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Men’s Lacrosse: ND moves up to No. 3 with wins over UNC, Bucknell

Sam Werner | Tuesday, March 17, 2009

When Notre Dame took the field last Sunday, Mar. 8, against North Carolina, the Irish were ranked No. 7 in the country. Now? Notre Dame has moved up to No. 3 after wins over the then-No. 3 Tar Heels and Bucknell during spring break.

While Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan said he was pleased with the week, he didn’t want to blow the North Carolina win out of proportion, and that it was too early in the season to take rankings very seriously.

“It’s a nice win,” he said. “Whether Carolina’s a top-three team or not, I don’t know. They were No. 3 in the country at that time, and that’s great, but right now it’s a little bit more of a beauty contest than a true test of who’s No. 3”

The win over the Tar Heels (6-2) tied for the highest-ranked team Notre Dame (5-0) has ever defeated. The Irish beat No. 3 Johns Hopkins in the 2001 NCAA quarterfinals.

Defense was the story of the day for Notre Dame. Despite trailing 4-3 at halftime, the Irish held the Tar Heels scoreless during the third quarter, and goals from junior attack Neal Hicks and senior attack Ryan Hoff gave Notre Dame a 5-4 which lead that it would not relinquish. Hoff would score two more goals on the day, good for his first hat trick of the season.

“I thought we played pretty good team defense the whole day,” Corrigan said.

Senior Scott Rodgers made 16 saves between the pipes, and was named Great Western Lacrosse League player of the week.

“Scott’s been terrific,” Corrigan said. “He really has been. No surprise for us, but I couldn’t be happier for him because of how hard he’s worked and how patient he’s been playing behind Joey Kemp for three years, and I couldn’t be happier for our team because there’s no position more important than your goal.”

Despite the win, Corrigan said his squad still had room to improve on offense.

“Offensively, we didn’t play as well,” he said. “We made some plays, which is always important, but we didn’t play well.”

There wasn’t much time for the Irish to celebrate the win, as the squad had to travel to Bethesda, Md. to take on Bucknell. Corrigan, however, was confident in his team’s ability to focus.

“By the time we got to the Bucknell game, I knew our guys would be ready to play,” he said. “I was concerned because Bucknell’s a very good lacrosse team, but I wasn’t concerned that we were going to overlook them or that our guys would still be celebrating the win from Sunday. We had moved on pretty well, the guys were pretty focused.”

The Irish, though, started slow, trailing 4-2 midway through the third quarter. Four straight goals gave Notre Dame the lead for good, though. This time, sophomore midfielder Scott Brenneman notched a hat trick, the first of his career.

Corrigan said that, while he thinks his offense still has room to grow, he was happy with the balanced scoring. So far this year, six Irish players have tallied hat tricks.

“If they take away one thing, it should give us something else,” Corrigan said. “So, if as you go through the season they defend one guy or one particular action, it gives you something else on the other side of the field.”