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MEN’S LACROSSE: Team faces off against Greyhounds

Pat R. O'Brien | Friday, February 16, 2007

Notre Dame starts the 2007 regular season by hosting Loyola (Md.) at 1 p.m. Saturday. This is the first of six home games for the No. 11 Irish as the team faces off against the No. 13 Greyhounds.

The Irish finished last season 10-5 (3-2 GWLL) and earned an NCAA Tournament bid. Six returning starters, including preseason honorable mention Inside Lacrosse All-America picks – goalie Joey Kemp and attack Brian Hubschmann – lead the team entering the season.

The Irish open with two new assistant coaches – defensive specialist and Notre Dame MBA graduate Gerry Byrne and face-off specialist Brian Fisher.

“I love the experience that both coaches bring,” Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan said. “Brian [Fisher] is a graduate from Rutgers and he has talent. Gerry [Byrne] is professionally developed and highly motivated.”

The players also had good reviews of the additions to the coaching staff.

“Coach Byrne has come in and done a great job,” Irish defender Ross Zimmerman said. “It is the first time that I’ve had a defensive specialist as a coach.”

Kemp thought the combination of offensive and defensive expertise had benefited the team as well.

“Coach Fisher is an expert on faceoffs, and Coach Byrne adds a different dynamic on defense for our team,” Kemp said.

The match against highly-touted Loyola will be a good indicator of how far this team has worked during the off-season. Although the Greyhounds finished 6-6 last season, they are 5-0 all-time against the Irish.

“We’re ready to play,” Corrigan said. “We’ve had five weeks of preparation. [Loyola] has a lot of juniors and seniors. It’s a building process, where they have most of their guys back.”

Loyola returns nine starters and 29 letter winners from last season’s squad. Midfielder Andrew Spack, attack Dan Bauers, midfielder Steven Hess and faceoff specialist Dan Kallaugher were 2007 preseason All-America picks by Inside Lacrosse.

“[Saturday’s game] should set the tone for the beginning of the season,” Kemp added. “The first four games are tough, and they will tell us a lot about our team. I play each game as a must win.”

Zimmerman also felt the excitement of the opening match.

“I’m pumped,” he said.

Corrigan also said that he looks to his senior and junior classes for leadership this year.

“The entire senior class has done a tremendous job. I look for them along with the junior class to set the tone and be in important roles this season,” Corrigan said. “We also have many great underclassmen.”