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Men’s Lacrosse: Drexel provides new opportunity after overtime loss

Mike Monaco | Thursday, March 1, 2012

Coming off Sunday’s overtime loss to Penn State, the No. 9 Irish look to get back on track Saturday when they hit the road to take on No. 20 Drexel in Philadelphia.

Notre Dame (1-1) opened up the 2012 campaign with a convincing win over then-No. 2 Duke on Feb. 18 before falling to the Nittany Lions.

Saturday’s matchup against Drexel (1-2) provides the Irish with an opportunity to get back to playing the way they did in the season opener, Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said.

“I think we have got to get back to what we did going into the Duke game,” Corrigan said. “That was playing with an intensity level and a focus that allowed us to compete so well and so hard. I don’t think we brought all that to the Penn State game.”

That focus and intensity will be necessary against the Dragons, who are similar to the Nittany Lions in multiple facets of the game, Corrigan said.

“[The Dragons] are a very good team,” Corrigan said. “They’re probably a team that compares to Penn State. They have excellent goalie play and they have a few offensive guys who are extremely dangerous — and they’re a well coached team.”

Manning the cage for Drexel is senior goalie Mark Manos, a two-time all-American. Though his team has a losing record, Manos has kept the Dragons close throughout the early part of the season. In the season opener against No. 1 Virginia, Manos helped keep the Cavaliers in check in a 9-8 Drexel loss.

Even with a talented goalie like Manos standing in their way, the Irish know they need to improve on their offensive output from the Penn State game, Corrigan said. In the loss to the Nittany Lions, the Irishonly netted three goals on 21 shots.

“We have just got to shoot the ball better,” Corrigan said. “You cannot make three out of 21 shots on the cage. You’re just not going to win many games doing that so we need to shoot the ball better.”

The Irish hope to get back to the offense that found success against Duke, when Notre Dame reeled off seven unanswered goals from a variety of goal scorers.

On the other end of the field, Notre Dame’s defense will attempt to continue its strong play. The Irish, led by junior goalie John Kemp, have held their first two opponents to three and four goals, respectively. The netminder, a preseason member of the Tewaaraton Award watch list, has set career highs in saves in both games thus far, with 14 in the opener and 18 on Sunday.

Stopping the Drexel offense will be a tough task, though, as the Dragons feature a capable crew of scorers, Corrigan said. That being said, the Irish are confident in how they match up.

“We stack up fine against them but we just need to defend some of their guys,” Corrigan said. “They have some very nifty offensive guys who are very skilled around the goal. So we have to keep them out of those opportunities in front of the cage where they can be dangerous.”

One of Notre Dame’s keys to stopping the Drexel attack will be to limit transition chances. The Irish learned the importance of doing so the hard way against Penn State, when the Nittany Lions capitalized on their open field chances.

“I think [defending Drexel] starts at the other end of the field,” Corrigan said. “We need to be smart and not let them get out in transition. We gave [Penn State] some transition opportunities that really came back to bite us.”

Despite those few breakdowns, Corrigan said he knows his defense has been tremendous in the early going. The Irish hope such stout performances continue Saturday.

“Our six-on-six defense has been tremendous so far in the season,” Corrigan said. “I think if we control the transition game against Drexel we should be fine.”

Notre Dame looks to get back to its winning ways when it takes on the Dragons at Vidas Field at 1:00 p.m on Saturday.