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Men’s Lacrosse

Notre Dame prepares for showdown with DU

| Thursday, March 5, 2015

After winning handily in its last performance against Dartmouth, 20-5, No. 2 Notre Dame will travel to take on No. 4 Denver in a top-five matchup Saturday.

The Irish (3-0, ACC 0-0) are no strangers to battling Denver (3-1) in close games, as Notre Dame had beaten the Pioneers six seasons in a row until last year, when the Irish fell at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium, 10-7. In 2013, Notre Dame and DU went into overtime, a game the Irish ended up winning, 13-12. In 2012, the teams went into triple overtime before a winner was decided — Notre Dame walked away with the 10-9 win.

This season Notre Dame has benefited from having multiple players contribute offensively. Through three games thus far, three Irish players have scored at least six goals, led by freshman attack Mikey Wynne’s 13. In the Irish’s win over Dartmouth, Wynne, sophomore midfield Sergio Perkovic and junior midfield Cole Riccardi all produced hat tricks. Junior attack Matt Kavanagh, who led the Irish in scoring last season, also contributed two goals along with a career-high five assists.

“I think we’ve seen so far that some guys who had more of a contributing role last year have been able to make the leap to becoming a real difference maker on the field, and when you combine that with the established play makers it looks like there’s going to be a lot of balance on our team this year,” sophomore goalie Shane Doss said.

While Notre Dame has seen the development of younger players, Denver has also seen its team become a national force this season. It’s lone loss this season was against No. 2 North Carolina in a 12-10 contest. Despite the loss, the Pioneers are still statistically similar to Notre Dame. Both teams have scored just over 50 total goals this season. The Irish are averaging 17.0 goals per game while allowing just 8.3, and the Pioneers are averaging 13.25 goals per game and allowing 9.0.

“We’ve been watching a lot of film on Denver because they run a very efficient and multi-faceted offense, so defensively we’ve been trying to get a feel for what they like to do,” Doss said. “They have a couple guys with pretty unique play styles so guys on our scout team have been great about mimicking each one and letting our defense get more comfortable before Saturday.”

The Pioneers have six players that have scored at least four goals in this season. They have been led by sophomore attack Connor Cannizzaro, who has scored 12 goals along with 12 assists this season. In addition to Cannizzaro’s fast start offensively, the Pioneers still have senior attack Wesley Berg, junior attack Jack Bobzien, senior midfielder Erik Adamson and sophomore attack Zach Miller on their roster, all of who scored at least 38 goals last season.

Doss said that Notre Dame understands all the different offensive looks that the Pioneers provide, so its preparation so far has been honed in on studying their versatility. Offensively and defensively, the Irish know they still have a lot to improve upon before getting back into national championship conversations.

“We definitely have room to improve in all aspects and we still have a ways to go as far as being the team we need to be in order to play for a national title,” Doss said. “This early in the season we’re more focused on finding an identity and just getting better in small ways every day.”

Notre Dame will travel Saturday to face Denver at Peter Barton Lacrosse Stadium in Denver at 1 p.m.

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About Manuel De Jesus

Manuel De Jesus is a junior from Chicago, Illinois. He is an American Studies major with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He is currently covering ND Volleyball, Men's Soccer and Men's Basketball.

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