Irish to start year with high hopes
Greg Hadley | Thursday, January 22, 2015
Coming off a national championship loss, No. 2 Notre Dame takes the field at Loftus Sports Center for the first time in 2015 this Sunday for an exhibition match against Bellarmine.
Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said he knows what the preseason polls predict for Notre Dame this season — second in the country, first in the ACC and five All-Americans — but he does not put any store by them. The only things that matter to Corrigan are the mindets of his players and staff, he said.
“You can’t completely ignore [the preseason hype] just because the guys are aware of it and everything,” Corrigan said. “But listen, what it means is that people think we should be competing at a really high level this year. That’s not anything new to us or anything that’s going to change our expectations of ourselves every day. We try to be demanding on a day-to-day basis because we don’t want our guys feeling any special pressure on game day. We’ll continue to have high standards … every day and we’re not too concerned with what other people’s expectations of us are.”
The Irish returned early from winter break to begin training Jan. 11, but in the weeks since, training has hit some snags, Corrigan said.
“Practice has been going well,” Corrigan said. “The guys have been doing a good job, but we’ve have had a bunch of injuries that have caused a variety of guys to miss practice. But the guys who have been out there have been doing a pretty great job. … We’ve probably had 10 different people miss time already, which is pretty unusual this early in the year. Guys are taking it as a challenge to take on a bigger role, but I think it hurts our overall competitiveness on a day-to-day basis.”
Corrigan said that the exhibition this weekend should help spark some of that fire, as well as give him an opportunity to see how his players compete in game situations.
“To get into the rhythm and pace of what an actual game is like is much different from practice,” he said. “In practice, when you’re working on, say, your half-field offense, it’s really hard to get a feeling for what the value of a possession is. Because if a ball goes out of bounds, you just restart, and in a game, that might be a ball you don’t see again for three or four minutes. So you have to play some whole-field game-type situations just to really get a feel for the tempo of real-action play.”
The Irish and the Knights are familiar foes, having played each other in several preseason matches and this fall in an exhibition. The two squads also have three programs — Michigan, Ohio State and Air Force — in common on their 2015 schedules.
“We know that they’re a good team that’s very well-coached,” Corrigan said. “They’ve brought a Canadian influence in the past two years. We don’t do a lot of scouting for a preseason game, but we expect to get tested in some areas like the two-man game, that will be very good for us. More than anything else, we just want to see someone else.”
Last season, the Irish won six straight games in the postseason before falling to Duke, 11-9, in the NCAA title game May 26. Of the 10 starters in that game, the Irish return eight, as well as another eight off the bench who played too. However, a good portion of the Irish bench graduated last spring, and Corrigan said he has used this winter practice to identify several players whom he expects to see the field often.
“[Junior defender] Edwin Glazener is playing very well for us defensively and is someone who hasn’t had a lot of [playing] time in the last couple years,” Corrigan said. “He could play a lot for us this year. [Junior midfielder] Cole Riccardi … has earned himself some playing time right now, and we’re anxious to see how he does. So there’s a couple of guys who have both been working very hard. They’re both juniors, they worked extremely hard to get to where they are right now, and we’re extremely excited to see both of them play this weekend.”
Notre Dame kicks off its exhibition schedule this Sunday at noon against Bellarmine at Loftus Sports Center.