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Irish set to defend title streak

Brendan Corsones | Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Irish will try for a sixth straight Big East title Saturday in New Jersey.

Irish coach Martin Stone said he does not want to be surprised this year and pointed to several teams such as Georgetown, No. 19 Louisville and Syracuse that could upset the Irish this weekend.

“All of the Big East has been showing speed,” he said. “I would not count anybody out.”

Stone demands excellence in practice, which may be why the Irish have been constantly improving all season.

Louisville enters the tournament with the No. 1 varsity eight seed, while Notre Dame is seeded second.

Notre Dame last competed April 11 at Ohio State. There it won two races and improved its times in five of six.

Now it looks to a bigger stage.

“[The Big East championship] has been our goal all year, and our success would be a manifestation of everything we’ve worked hard for all year,” senior captain Lauren Buck said.

Though the Irish are no strangers to the Big East championship, many new members will be experiencing it for the first time.

This year’s team has “lots of new faces, but an outstanding attitude,” Buck said. “We’re ready for any new challenges.”

Coach Stone said he has confidence that this year’s team had the stuff it takes to add another trophy to the mantle.

“I think we should win this,” he said, “but it will take a great performance from everyone.”

The first preliminary races begin at 7:00 a.m. Saturday at Cooper River Park in Pennsauken, N.J. The day’s first grand final will begin at 9:40 a.m.