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Men’s Lacrosse: Rodgers waits his turn, then stars in senior year

Sam Werner | Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Scott Rodgers arrived at Notre Dame as one of the highest rated goalie recruits in the country. But when he got on campus, he had to wait, sitting behind All-American Joey Kemp for his first three years on the team.

“If you don’t play for a while, you kind of question yourself. I wouldn’t call it frustrating,” Rodgers said of his freshman through junior years. “It was definitely new for me, but I learned a lot of patience.”

This year, Rodgers has certainly made the most of his starting opportunity, playing in all 13 games for the Irish and compiling NCAA-best 6.26 goals against average. Rodgers said the experience of waiting made him appreciate this opportunity even more.

“Sitting for three years was kind of tough,” he said. “But at the same time I was kind of licking my chops for this season to show everyone what I was made of.”

Rodgers said he used his first three years to learn from Kemp, who earned All-American honors three times in his Notre Dame career.

“Over three years I learned a lot just from watching him,” Rodgers said. “He was such a great fundamental goalie, that I picked up just a lot of little things that have helped me this year.”

Initially, Rodgers said he was just trying to prove himself as a capable replacement, and asserted himself as a leader on the Irish defense.

“Between me and [senior defensive captain] Regis [McDermott], we kind of let the younger guys know that we had the tools to be just as good as we were last year,” Rodgers said. “Starting in the fall, we just wanted to prove a point that we’re not going to be pushed over as a defense.”

Opposing attacks are certainly having a tough time pushing over the Irish defense, which leads the league in fewest goals allowed at a stalwart 6.23 per game. Rodgers was recognized for his impressive play by being named a nominee for the Tewaarton Trophy, given annually to the top collegiate lacrosse in the country.

“I was mostly shocked that I was in that group of players,” Rodgers said. “That’s a great group of 21 [nominees].”

He added, though, that individual statistics and accolades are not as important to him as wins, which Notre Dame has also had plenty of this season. The Irish are currently 13-0, 5-0 in the Great Western Lacrosse League (GWLL), and ranked No. 2 in both major polls. Notre Dame begins play in the GWLL Tournament this weekend against Quinnipiac.

“I wanted to make sure our team was where we had to be,” Rodgers said. “If we had allowed 13 goals a game, that’s OK as long as we’re winning.”

All year, the one knock on the Irish has been a soft strength of schedule. Rodgers, though, said that the Notre Dame players haven’t worried about it, and think they still have what it takes to win a national championship.

“We don’t have the best schedule,” he said. “We don’t control that; we can only play the games that are on the schedule. We’re just going to beat every team in front of us.”

Rodgers pointed to Notre Dame’s March 8 win over then-No. 3 North Carolina as evidence that the Irish can go all the way.

“People are starting to understand that we’re for real, but we still have a long way to go,” he said. “We might be the underdog, but we kind of like being in that position.”