Men’s Lacrosse: On their Heels
Tim Dougherty | Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Coming off a disappointing 9-6 loss to No. 6 Cornell last weekend, No. 13 Notre Dame looks to rebound against No. 20 North Carolina Saturday at the Loftus Center.
Though the game will be Notre Dame’s third consecutive against a ranked opponent, North Carolina (2-3) barely hangs onto the last spot in Inside Lacrosse’s Top-20 media poll. Pennsylvania knocked off the sliding Tar Heels 13-4 Tuesday in Chapel Hill, handing the Heels their third loss in a row after a 2-0 start.
In light of Carolina’s eye-opening home defeat, Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan expects to face a spirited squad Saturday.
“They are a very talented team that’s off to a rough start to their season,” Corrigan said. “We’ve going to get them at a tough time. We’re going to get them wounded and fighting. We’re going to see the best that they have.”
The Irish hope to increase an offensive output that has scored eight or fewer goals in both contests this year – a number they failed to exceed just once all of last season.
Though Corrigan acknowledged that stingy goaltenders like Cornell’s All-American Matt McMonagle have given the Irish offense a hard time, Notre Dame must demand a higher scoring output.
“Part of it is our decision making offensively has not been as good as it needs to be,” he said. “And we have to shoot the ball better when we get opportunities. … We’ve got to be better on our end with our decision making and putting the ball in the cage.”
If the Irish are to light up the scoreboard Saturday, they must do so against a North Carolina defense featuring senior preseason first-team All-America Stephen McElduff. McElduff, a nominee for the Tewaaraton Trophy for the country’s best lacrosse player, is tough to attack because of his versatility, Corrigan said.
“We’ve faced him every year of his career,” Corrigan said. “He’s an excellent defenseman – very solid. He’s able to guard different kinds on players.”
As Corrigan expects North Carolina to bring a sense of urgency to Saturday’s game, he said the Irish need to match that same aggressive attitude.
“We’ve been too willing to settle,” he said. “If we play with a little more determination, everything will fall into place.”
Other than a need for intensity, Corrigan’s game plan and confidence is unchanged.
“We’re not going to try to reinvent the wheel,” he said. “We’ve been a good offensive team for a number of years. We’re going to keep working hard and I think it will fall into place. We’ve had a good hard week in practice and we’re very focused.”
After Saturday’s game against the boys from Tobacco Road, the Irish hit the road for their next two contests. Notre Dame travels to Philadelphia to take on Villanova Tuesday and visits Louisville Saturday to face Bellarmine.