Notre Dame looks to finish regular season conference play on a high note
Benjamin Padanilam | Friday, April 21, 2017
The ACC tournament is a week away, but No. 6 Notre Dame will first play host to No. 16 North Carolina on Saturday in its penultimate regular season game of the season.
The Irish (6-3, 1-2 ACC) last played April 11, when they squeaked by Marquette following a game-winning goal by captain and senior midfielder Sergio Perkovic in the 11-10 win. The 11-day hiatus between that win and the contest with the Tar Heels (6-6, 1-2), however, represents the longest break between games of the season for the Irish. Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan said he believes the extended time between contests is an advantage for his team at this point of the season.
“At this time of the year, a little bit of a break, I think, will do great things for us,” Corrigan said. “ … I’m really looking at it as a nice advantage to be able to kind of get everybody excited and geared up for the rest of the year.”
The Irish took advantage of the break in a big way, Corrigan said. With Easter taking place during the hiatus, the players had Friday and Monday off from classes, so Corrigan was able to give the team two days off and still put them through an entirely different practice routine. He said the team treated the week’s practices as if it were training camp, as the emphasis was placed on fundamentals as opposed to game planning for Saturday’s game.
“[The break] absolutely changed our routine,” Corrigan said. “We told our guys we were going back to camp — we did a bunch of fundamental work over the course of three days where we didn’t talk about anybody, any opponent or anything else. We just worried about ourselves and getting fundamentally better. We were still able to take two full days off over the weekend and let the guys get mentally recharged. I think it’s a terrific thing to have that kind of break at this point in the season, and I think it will only benefit us this weekend.”
The hope is that the increased emphasis on fundamentals will help the team with its execution and efficiency, Corrigan said. One area he felt the team struggled in its win over Marquette was in being efficient on a consistent basis on the offensive end. After scoring eight goals in the first 16 minutes, the offense only managed three goals in the final 44 minutes of game action, and that inconsistency put a lot of pressure on the defense as the Irish struggled to win the time-of-possession battle.
“We just have to be a little bit more efficient — more consistently efficient — offensively,” Corrigan said. “The Marquette game was another game where we had a run of terrific possessions. We were very, very efficient. … Then, we became less so. … We need to be a little bit more consistent than that, and if we had done that, then we would have been able to balance out that offense-defense time of possession that’s such as an important part of our game.”
That offensive efficiency will particularly be key against North Carolina because the Tar Heels excel in taking advantage of unsettled situations and creating transition opportunities as a result, Corrigan said.
“They’re a very good team in transition and unsettled situations,” Corrigan said. “They’ve got some excellent scorers, and they’re just a long, athletic team that can really get out and make you play full field.”
The Irish and Tar Heels will face off in the last ACC regular season game of the year at noon Saturday at Arlotta Stadium.