Corrigan optimistic, proud of senior class after season is cut short
Colin Capece | Friday, May 15, 2020
Amidst all of the uncertainty that had built up during the second week of March due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Notre Dame men’s lacrosse head coach Kevin Corrigan had a bad feeling about where the 2020 season was headed.
“We had just played Ohio State on Tuesday [March 10] and were preparing to play Michigan over the weekend, but I had a feeling we wouldn’t get that far,” Corrigan said in a phone interview.
Corrigan’s fears, unfortunately, proved to be justified March 12 when the NCAA canceled the remainder of winter and spring sports seasons.
“When we finally told the players, it was tremendously disappointing for everybody,” Corrigan said. “These guys work awfully hard for years and years and throughout the course of the spring, and to find out that there wasn’t going to be a season this year was certainly difficult. One thing you learn as a college athlete is that, while the program remains, a team only exists for one year. For these guys, this team will never exist again, and that’s a huge disappointment.”
After dominating its first two games of the year against Cleveland State and Richmond, Notre Dame had fallen into a three-game slide leading up to the season’s cancellation, falling to beat ranked teams Maryland, Denver and Ohio State. Despite the losing streak, Corrigan felt his team could have another successful season in 2020.
“The results had been disappointing to that point,” he said. “We had a lot of areas like the faceoff and on defense where we needed to get better, but I really think we would have. I really liked this team’s competitiveness and their attitude. We had great leadership. I have no doubt we would have been fine as the season progressed.”
Corrigan also said he believed a number of players were going to improve over the course of the season, some building upon their play in 2019 while others made new contributions to the team.
“I think [sophomore attack/midfielder] Griffin Westlin and [freshman attack] Pat Kavanagh were two guys on attack that were going to continue to get better every game,” Corrigan said. “[Junior long-stick midfielder] Carson Cochran was a guy that was getting his first real significant playing time on defense and [freshman goalie] Liam Entenmann in the cage is another guy we feel like has a lot of upsides. There are guys across the roster we feel that would have had great seasons and will continue to improve in the future.”
After the NCAA canceled spring sports in 2020, the governing body also decided to grant spring athletes an extra year of eligibility to make up for their lost season. This has created a number of roster questions for teams, with coaches having to balance seniors who will now be returning with incoming recruits. Corrigan expects a number of seniors from this year’s team to return. He also said there will be graduate transfers that will join the team next year, and the coaching staff continues to stay in contact with Notre Dame’s 2020 recruiting class.
Regardless of what happens with the roster next year, Corrigan said he is confident there will be underclassmen who step up next year to fill the leadership void left by those seniors who will not be returning.
“We have a really good junior class, and I think that a lot of them will step into leadership roles,” Corrigan said. “I hate to name specific guys because I feel like the whole class takes leadership as a collective responsibility. I think they learned from this year’s senior class that it’s not just one guy’s job to lead; it’s really everyone’s job.”
Corrigan also explained that, despite not being able to finish the 2020 season, this year’s group of seniors has meant a great deal to the men’s lacrosse program.
“This is a great group of kids, and there’s no one in the country that has played a tougher schedule than those guys in the last four years,” Corrigan said. “Nobody has played in more top-20 games, and that ability to compete day-in and day-out is something that they should be very proud of. They did it as young guys when they first started with the program, but they also became the leaders of our team in the last couple of years. And for the guys that aren’t coming back, it’s because they took full advantage of the education offered at Notre Dame and are moving on to have great jobs and build great lives for themselves. I am as proud of this group as people as I am for what they did on the field.”