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Men’s Lacrosse: Irish Ready for Brown

Tim Dougherty | Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Coming off their most lopsided loss in four years, the Irish are hungry for a win.

Notre Dame (4-2) will have its long sticks ready to go bear hunting as it invites the Brown Bears (2-4) to Moose Krause Stadium today for the first meeting between the two schools.

No. 11 Notre Dame returns from a three game road trip that started 2-0 but ended in a 13-5 route at No. 4 Hofstra – the worst defeat for the Irish since the Pride beat them 15-5 in 2002.

After playing in front of a hostile crowd of 4,363 at Hofstra, the Irish are refocused and eager to welcome the Bears to their neck of the woods.

“Hofstra is such an intense atmosphere,” senior defenseman and co-captain D.J. Driscoll said. “It’s definitely nice to sleep in your own bed, but now this is our field. They’re coming into our house.”

Notre Dame hopes its return to the Dome will help it prepare mentally for a team with a record that may conceal its talent.

“They’re a very good team,” Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said. “They haven’t gotten a lot of wins thus far, but they haven’t not been in any games this year. We’ve seen video of their games this year, and they’ve played very good games and stayed right with [their opponents].”

Three of the Bears’ four losses have come by four goals or fewer, including two-point losses to No. 18 University of Maryland-Baltimore County and last Saturday to Ohio State. They also lost to No. 7 Massachusetts 13-9 in a game in which they trailed by two midway through the fourth quarter.

“This is a statement game for us, coming off a bad loss, to come back and get back on our feet,” Driscoll said. “We’ve seen the type of offense they run all year in practice. We have to play a full game and play with the potential I know our team has, and we can run with anyone.”

If Notre Dame’s effort at practice Monday is indicative of how the team will respond in today’s game, Corrigan expects the Irish to be fully recovered from Saturday’s loss.

“[The] guys came out and had a great practice [Monday],” Corrigan said. “They came out and competed. That’s all you can ask – that’s how you get better. We have to take what we can learn from the last game and expect to come out and play better.”

Corrigan is confident his team can win at the highest level if it plays a mistake-free game and execute the bare fundamentals of lacrosse from start to finish.

“I don’t think we need to do anything differently,” Corrigan said. “We need to do things consistently. That’s been our biggest challenge this year. We haven’t continued to execute for 60 minutes the way we need to. We haven’t put together the 60 minutes on both sides of the ball.”

Driscoll believes the Irish are close to making that jump.

“We watched film and saw that we made some simple mistakes,” Driscoll said. “Coach has told us that Brown runs the same style of offense as us, and it’s all about execution.”

Though Corrigan said sophomore midfielder Mike Podgajny will not be ready to play a full game, he will see action as he continues to recover from mononucleosis.

The Irish will also be without sophomore face-off specialist Taylor Clagett, who is recovering from a shoulder injury.

Clagett’s absence Saturday critically hurt the Irish, as they lost 16 of the game’s 22 face-offs and struggled to gain possession of the ball all day, managing just five goals.

Senior backup Steve Panos will make his third straight start at face-off for the Irish. After winning 9-12 against Bellarmine, Panos managed 2-15 against Hofstra, as he split time with sophomore Sean Dougherty.

“We’ll continue to look for answers there,” Corrigan said. “Steve has had one real good game and one where he struggled. We’ll start with Steve and go from there.”