Irish, Wolverines to meet for first time
Brian Plamondon | Friday, February 20, 2015
Who said the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry was over?
The No. 2 Irish and Wolverines will clash for the first time ever on the lacrosse field Saturday in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Michigan (2-0) is in the midst of its fourth full season as an NCAA Division I member in lacrosse. Over that span, the Wolverines are 0-16 against ranked opponents.
Despite Michigan’s struggles to adapt to the highest level of college lacrosse, Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said the Irish will not look past the Wolverines.
“We don’t know as much about Michigan … [but] they have very high expectations for this year,” Corrigan said. “They’re off to a good start, have scored a lot of goals their first two games. I think they’re going to be a very dangerous team.”
Despite the lack of familiarity with the Wolverines, the Irish need to focus on their own game first and foremost, Corrigan said.
“We’re really excited to focus on ourselves as much as possible,” Corrigan said. “It’s early in the year, and you don’t want to get too focused on your opponents before you really have enough information to know them well.”
Notre Dame (1-0) enters the tilt coming off a season-opening 14-12 victory over Georgetown last Saturday. In that win, freshman attack Mikey Wynne burst onto the scene with six goals to lead the Irish.
“It doesn’t surprise me that he had a big game early,” Corrigan said of Wynne. “He’s playing with a senior [attack Conor Doyle] and a junior [attack Matt Kavanagh] that everybody in the country knows about. So [Georgetown] came into the game preparing for those two guys, not for Mikey Wynne, and that gives Mikey Wynne an opportunity.”
Notre Dame will look to Kavanagh to play an expanded role against Michigan, Corrigan said. Kavanagh, who was named a preseason All-American this year after setting a Notre Dame record with 75 points last season, was nursing an injury that forced him to miss practices leading up to the Georgetown game.
“He’ll continue to get stronger and better,” Corrigan said of Kavanagh. “It’s hard to take off the better part of two weeks from practice and come back and be at your best.”
On the other end of the field, Corrigan is still deciding whether to start senior Conor Kelly or sophomore Shane Doss in goal. Kelly played the first 36 minutes against Georgetown but was pulled in favor of Doss. Corrigan said he has confidence in both players and will not hesitate to make a switch if the starter is not on his game.
“Consistently good goaltending is a pretty essential part of a team — and particularly a team that builds itself the way we do,” Corrigan said.
No matter who starts Saturday, he will have to face Wolverines sophomore attack Ian King, who scored six goals and added two assists in a win against Detroit last weekend. King was voted the Inside Lacrosse Player of the Week on Tuesday.
Even if King or any other Wolverines player starts to take control of the game, Corrigan said he will not be worried about his team’s response.
“We’ve got a high, competitive motor on our team, and our guys don’t waste a lot of time worrying about the [previous] play,” Corrigan said.
Notre Dame and Michigan face off this Saturday at 1 p.m. at Oosterbaan Field House in Ann Arbor, Michigan.