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Men’s Lacrosse: Sophomore succeeds in special role

Tim Dougherty | Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Notre Dame has one of the best and most underrated talents in the country – due more to the position than the man who occupies it.

As a freshman last season, Notre Dame’s Taylor Clagett was the sixth best face-off man in Division I lacrosse, winning .612 percent of the face-offs he took.

“After every goal and at the beginning of every quarter, there is a possession up for grabs,” Corrigan said Monday. “If you can dominate the face-off, you can dominate the possessions. … It’s an uphill battle when you’re not getting face-offs.”

But face-off men, who contribute a crucial role to their team’s momentum, ironically receive fewer playing time when they win a drop.

“If I win, I’ll be in for about 30 seconds on offense,” Clagett said Monday. “If I lose, I stay in on defense for maybe five minutes.”

The Irish roster lists Clagett as a midfielder – the position his older brother Steve played for Notre Dame from 2001-04. He mainly takes face-offs and hops off the field shortly thereafter if he wins, though, in favor of an offensive midfielder.

“We recruited Taylor as a face-off guy,” Corrigan said. “We got very lucky with him. He’s going to be terrific.”

But that’s not to say Clagett’s only talent is winning face-offs – he can play defense, too. Corrigan is confident in the sophomore’s abilities at midfield but mindful of his specific duties – especially after reserve face-off man senior Steve Panos was unavailable for last Saturday’s 9-6 loss to Cornell due to injury.

“He’s a good defensive player,” Corrigan said of Panos, the Irish’s groundball leader (64) for 2005. “But we don’t want to wear him out playing too much defense.”

Opponents can not overlook Clagett’s offensive abilities, as well.

Last season, in addition to one assist, he scored two goals, the second in a 14-13 overtime triumph over Air Force.

The lack of a title for Clagett’s face-off role is representative of the blue collar, lunch-pail attitude required for the position, Corrigan said.

“Every good face-off guy is very tough,” the coach said. “It’s a position where you get bounced around and hit, and you’ve got to concentrate on getting the ball.”

Toughness wasn’t exactly what drew Clagett to the position.

Before going on to captain athletic powerhouse DeMatha Catholic High School in Maryland to a national lacrosse ranking, Clagett was just a sophomore high school lacrosse player looking for a way out of grueling drills.

“[My high school] coach said that everyone who wanted to try facing-off didn’t have to do sprints,” Clagett said.

Turns out he was just the tough guy his coach was looking for.

“I guess it kind of worked out for me,” Clagett said.

Now that he’s at Notre Dame, though, the break from workouts is over.

“I run with the rest of the team and do all the same lifts,” he said. “I also do a lot of lift curls and forearm curls. You need strong forearms to face-off.”

And Corrigan and Clagett both believe the sophomore’s diligence before the game separates him from his opponents during the game.

“I watch film to see my opponent to see what move they’re doing, to see what I can do to counter,” he said. “You’ve got to make sure you’re familiar with the move, perfecting technique.”

That kind of work ethic makes Clagett one of the best face-off men in the country.