Corrigan, Irish plan for home opener against Detroit Mercy
Tobias Hoonhout | Friday, February 15, 2019
Facing the customary February wintery conditions in South Bend, No. 9 Notre Dame will open its season Saturday night inside, as the Irish host MAAC-foe Detroit Mercy in a nonconference bout to open the 2019 season.
Under head coach Kevin Corrigan, Notre Dame has consistently played one of the toughest schedules in the country, and this year it is no different — the Irish will face nine opponents currently ranked in the top-20. Last year’s Irish squad battled injuries and bad luck to finish 9-6 overall and 1-3 in the ACC, but bounced back to win the ACC tournament with a dominant 17-5 victory over Virginia. As Notre Dame heads into another challenging campaign, for Corrigan, a major takeaway from 2018 was the way the team’s health mirrored its success.
“Quite honestly, last year when we were healthy, I didn’t think there were many games that we didn’t play very well when we were healthy,” he said. “Unfortunately, we had some guys that got hurt in the middle of the year, and that’s part of the game too, but we weren’t at our best at those points. For the most part, when we were healthy, we played some really good lacrosse last year, and I think that proved itself in a lot of situations, but that’s something that we’ve got to take note of and make sure that we’ve got enough depth this year that we can handle those kinds of things that happen to you in the course of the year, and not any steps backwards. We have a lot of guys that are working really hard right now, and I feel good about where we are.”
One of those individuals who battled injuries was junior midfielder Bryan Costabile, who led the team with 30 goals on the season — including a career-high five in a 10-7 win over Detroit Mercy last season — and earned second-team All American honors, all while playing with a broken jaw. Corrigan said the junior is fully healthy and focused on the team’s success this year, regardless of the outside noise.
“Bryan comes every day and works hard, and he cares very much about what he’s doing, he cares very much about what our team is doing, and so I don’t have any great concerns about him, about what other people’s expectations are of him, because his expectations of himself are very high,” Corrigan said. “That’s the only thing that I want to make sure, that he understands that he’s gotta do the things he is capable of doing, and not worry about what other people think about it. What he’s doing for our team is important, and I know he feels the same way, but it’s easy to say that and harder to go through it as that guy that’s getting a lot of people’s attention and everything.
“But he also knows that he’ll get that attention from the media and whatever, but he’s going to get that attention from other people’s game plans, and that’s what he’s gotta be ready to deal with.”
Opening the season for the second-straight year against the Titans (1-0), the Irish will be hoping to have smoother sailing than last season, in which Detroit led 6-5 heading into the fourth quarter only for the Irish to rally with a 5-1 run to close the game and win 10-7.
Corrigan said as long as Notre Dame stays focused on itself, the result should take care of itself.
“It’s the first game of the year, so we’re not really getting overly concerned in terms of what they do and that kind of thing, as much as what we do — the first game is very much about yourself and how you play,” he said. “We do have the advantage of having seen them play Jacksonville last week, so we understand what they are trying to do from a scheme standpoint and all that, but the first game is about us and how good is our preparation, how ready are we in every way. Last year, we came in and they kind of punched us in the face, and it took us a while to recover from that, and we can’t have that happen, we can’t have them be more mentally and emotionally prepared to play than we are, so that’s the challenge that I want to make sure we meet. As a first game, it’s about us and our preparation.”
This won’t be the first opponent the Irish have faced, however, as the team scrimmaged Air Force on Jan. 26 as part of an effort to gear up for the season. With Detroit Mercy posing the first real challenge, Corrigan said the early preparation was a good step in the right direction.
“That was after two weeks of practice, and you’re certainly going to continue to make a lot of progress three weeks after that, so that was great, that was good for us to get better,” he said. “It wasn’t a great day in terms of our performance, but I’m not worried about our performance on Jan. 26, I’m worried about our progress, and where are we in the process of becoming the team we want to become.
“We weren’t satisfied with that day, but it’s almost impossible to be satisfied on Jan. 26 — I’m not even sure there is any circumstance that I would be satisfied. It’s just another day in our preparation in being ready for Saturday and being ready for our season.”
The Irish are set to open their account at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday night in Loftus Sports Center.