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Men’s Lacrosse: Irish prepare for GWLL tourney opener vs. Quinnipiac

Mike Gotimer | Wednesday, April 29, 2009

After completing its first ever undefeated regular season in program history, No. 2 Notre Dame remains the lone unbeaten team in Division I lacrosse. With the Irish’s postseason set to kick off this weekend at the Great Western Lacrosse League tournament in Birmingham, Mich., Notre Dame (13-0, 5-0) could be poised to make its deepest tournament run since advancing to the National Semifinals in 2001.

The Irish formula for success this season has come as a result of its balanced offensive attack and stifling defense. On the offensive side of the ball, seven Irish players have combined for a total of 19 hat tricks. On the other side, the Irish defense is anchored by senior goalie Scott Rodgers, who leads the nation with a 6.26 goals against average and was recently named a finalist for the Tewaarton Trophy, which is awarded annually to the nation’s top college lacrosse player.

Despite the potential deep postseason run for Notre Dame, Irish coach Kevin Corrigan insists that his team is focusing solely on Quinnipiac, who Notre Dame plays in the first round of the GWLL tournament and defeated 10-2 on April 18.

“I think right now we’re simply not talking about anything but Quinnipiac on Friday,” Corrigan said. “This team has done a great job all year of focusing on the task at hand.”

Although the Irish finished undefeated in their final season of play in the GWLL, there is still a lot at stake for Notre Dame in the tournament. Despite their strong record, Notre Dame’s seeding for the national tournament remains somewhat of a mystery. Many analysts believe that Notre Dame’s strength of schedule could harm the Irish when the selection committee announces the 16-team NCAA Tournament Field next week.

However, Corrigan believes that Notre Dame’s performance in the GWLL tournament could have a significant effect on their seed.

“I think that’s true and the converse is true as well,” Corrigan said. “If we don’t play well and we don’t do what we think we should do, we leave our fate in the hands of the committee and I don’t think we want to do that. I think we want to take care of our side of things. We’re really just focused on playing better lacrosse.”

Throughout the season, the Irish have done a good job of remaining focused on playing better lacrosse, which has helped them improve since the season began. Corrigan believes that this focus on improvement has helped the Irish succeed this year and that continued improvement will be key for Notre Dame to make a deep postseason run.

“There’s nothing besides continuing to improve,” Corrigan said. “We need to go to practice everyday to continue to improve. There’s no magic formula for success. We have nobody coming back from injuries, we can’t make any trades, so we have the guys we have and we need to keep working and keep improving. When we come back every Monday and when we watch video, no matter what happens, we continue to look at what we can do to improve. Hopefully we’ll have another three to four weeks to continue to do that.”

The Irish face off against Quinnipiac and begin their quest for a second straight GWLL title at 5 p.m. on Friday.