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ND Men’s Lacrosse: No. 3 Notre Dame ready for new Big East opponents

Meaghan Veselik | Tuesday, February 23, 2010

With the beginning of the 2010 season comes a number of firsts for the No. 3 Irish. Not only did they take down now-No. 8 Duke in the season opener, the first time the Irish have defeated a team that was ranked in the top two of the national polls in program history, but Notre Dame is also one of seven teams in the newly-formed and highly competitive Big East men’s lacrosse league.

“One of the good things is the quality of the teams,” Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said. “At the top of this league is excellence with Syracuse and Georgetown, and I think that Villanova and Rutgers are moving up as well.”

A member of the recently dissolved Great Western Lacrosse League from 1994 to 2009, the Irish (1-0) will join Georgetown, Providence, Rutgers, St. John’s, Syracuse and Villanova as the 11th men’s team sponsored by the Big East conference. Notre Dame earned 12 GWLL regular-season titles and won two back-to-back league tournaments in 2008 and 2009.

“To be involved in such a big conference is great for our team,” Corrigan said. “Syracuse has five national championships. No one in the Great Western Lacrosse League had been in the Final Four except us.”

As part of the new conference, the teams will play a six-game single round-robin regular season schedule. Notre Dame’s first conference match will take place March 27 when it plays host to Rutgers.

“It’s a very competitive group of schools,” Corrigan said. “The league’s teams are in all areas of the country in which we recruit. It’ll be great for recruiting and playing in front of the kids we’re trying to attract.”

The Irish grabbed the preseason No. 2 spot in the Big East by the conference’s head coaches. Syracuse was chosen in front of the Irish with six-first place votes to Notre Dame’s one; Georgetown was ranked third.

One of the challenges the Irish will face in their new conference is the number of top-ranked teams. Syracuse sits in first in the most recent USILA Coaches Poll as Georgetown moves to No. 13.

“The Big East gives us a great national profile and name recognition in the lacrosse world,” Corrigan said. “Not many people really know about a team from Denver, but they know teams like Syracuse and Georgetown. I think that having them come out here every other year will really attract attention and help us build rivals in all the sports we play in.”

Despite the challenges set by the other teams in the conference, Corrigan believes playing in the Big East will aid is team in the long run.

“We need the challenge of Big East play to prepare for the NCAA Tournament,” he said.

Without playing a conference match, the Irish have already made a name for themselves on the Big East stage. Senior goalie Scott Rodgers was named the first-ever Big East defensive player of the week and junior midfielder Zach Brenneman was named to the weekly honor roll as a result of their performances at Duke.

“Scottie Rodgers isn’t any secret, he’s one of the best goalies in the country,” Corrigan said. “He benefitted from a great defensive effort from the whole team. It’s a great honor to him, but it’s something not only he should take pride in, but also the whole team.”

Although Corrigan has previously said he and his team don’t set many long-term season goals, he has already stated some for Notre Dame in this new conference.

“We want to win it,” Corrigan said. “We don’t talk much about season goals, we talk about today, but there’s only one goal when you’re in a conference like this: to win the Big East. It’s going to be quite a challenge and an accomplishment.”