Notre Dame, Tar Heels to meet
A.J. Godeaux | Friday, February 28, 2014
After having their frenetic second-half comeback thwarted by No. 10 Penn State last Saturday, the eleventh-ranked Irish look to rebound from the 8-7 defeat when they travel to Chapel Hill to take on No. 3 North Carolina.
Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said he was extremely proud of the way Notre Dame (1-1) rebounded from the loss, particularly this week in practice.
“I thought our guys did a great job of bouncing back this week,” Corrigan said. “We were very competitive in practice. The guys really played hard and I really liked our approach. … Our leadership did a great job of picking everyone up, which you need.
“[The captains and seniors] are extremely important after a loss, but it’s not just them. You need guys in every class to help pull each other up, and we have that leadership on this team.”Beginning with the matchup against Penn State, the Irish now find themselves in the middle of a scheduling gauntlet, which has them facing seven consecutive ranked opponents in a seven-week span. Some coaches might worry about their team fatiguing after consecutive games against top-of-the-line competition, but Corrigan said that is not on this team’s radar now or moving forward.
“That’s not an issue at all,” Corrigan said. “Our guys know how to compete and I think they do a good job of getting themselves back in the mindset that they need to be in on game day. … I won’t dispute that it’s a tough schedule, but at the end of the day, it’s only 12 games [in a season]. I’d hope we’d be able to prepare for that and more.”
After going head to head with the stalwart Nittany Lions defense last weekend, next up on the docket for the Irish is another marquee matchup, this time going against North Carolina’s high-octane offense.
The Heels’ offensive attack is led up front by attackman Joey Sankey. The 5-5 junior attackman andInside Lacrosse second-team preseason All-American has already scored nine goals and added six assists in just three games, including a seven-point performance against Dartmouth on Saturday, which tied his career high. Junior midfielder John Tutton, a first-team preseason All-American, has also already found the back of the net six times this season for the Heels (3-0), who have scored 58 goals in their three games, all blowout victories.
“They’re extremely prolific offensively,” Corrigan said. “They’re averaging 19 goals a game, and they have a deep, talented, offensive group with a lot of people you need to worry about. So for us, we’ll have to control the tempo, not allow any easy goals and get them into the six-on-six where we can defend them.”
In order for the Irish to get back in the win column, Corrigan said they’ll have to improve on the offensive end as well.
“We struggled against zone defense,” Corrigan said. “In the second half [against Penn State], we had a lot of missed opportunities on the offensive end, too. We had to clean that up this week, and I think we did.”
The Irish take on the Tar Heels at 12 p.m. Saturday at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, N.C.