Notre Dame set to kick off season
Kit Loughran | Thursday, February 13, 2014
This weekend the Irish will pick up their sticks, put their helmets on and take the field for the start of the 2014 season.
The No. 5 Irish open up their regular season against Jacksonville on Sunday at 7 p.m., in Jacksonville, Fla. After a successful preseason campaign, the Irish landed a consensus top-five ranking across national polls and now look to a strong debut of their regular season.“It’s our first game so our focus is really just on us,” Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said. “Our main focus is on our execution and getting a good aggressive start to the season.”
Notre Dame’s execution and aggressive start to the season will rely on team cohesion, an element the Irish hope to solidify in their opener against Jacksonville (0-1).
“It’s really early in the season, and we’ve been spending all of preseason figuring out ourselves, who’s playing where and what plays we are doing,” sophomore defenseman Edwin Glazener said. “We haven’t thought about what other teams are doing, and in this game, we are just looking for everything we have been working on to all fall into place as we begin to play.”
Although the Irish have yet to play in a regular-season game, Jacksonville is preparing to face its second highly-ranked foe of the season. The Dolphins battled No. 3 Duke on Saturday to open their season and fell 16-10 to the Blue Devils.
“The biggest challenge that Jacksonville gives us is that they have a game under their belt,” Corrigan said. “They have a better sense of self and how they react to the opposing team. They had a good chance to not only get better but really see their own strengths and weaknesses, so that makes them more of challenge to us.”
The Dolphins might have had the extra opportunity to evaluate themselves, but the Irish bring their own advantages to the match. Even with new underclassmen faces joining the squad, the Irish have substantial on-field experience. Notre Dame returns two prominent defensive starters, seniors Stephen O’Hara and Brian Buglione, and two starters on attack, sophomore Matt Kavanagh and junior Conor Doyle.
O’Hara, who helped head an Irish defense that ranked 10th nationally with an average of 8.31 goals against last season and was recently drafted to Major League Lacrosse, earned preseason first-team All-American honors at the end of January. Kavanagh’s exceptional rookie campaign included a team-high 32 goals and 16 assists earned him third-team All-American honors for this preseason.
“Heading into this game against Jacksonville, we know that we need to start strong in the first game of the season because it will probably will dictate how a lot of the rest of the season will go,” Glazener said.
“I really think we are going to be pretty good this year.”
With well-founded confidence, Notre Dame opens its season against Jacksonville on Sunday in Jacksonville, Fla., at 7 p.m.
Contact Kit Loughran at [email protected]