The University of Notre Dame's campus was alive this past weekend. Pep rallies, tailgates, and fight songs echoed throughout the campus in preparation for the highly anticipated football season opener between the No. 11 Fighting Irish and the Longhorns of Texas. Notre Dame rewarded its fans for its cheers with a 38-3 victory. That dominating Irish performance was the culmination of a long journey of preparation, training, and above all else practice. Another Notre Dame team started that journey of preparation this weekend.
The Notre Dame men's lacrosse team held their first practice on Friday afternoon followed by their first Blue/Gold Intrasquad scrimmage at noon on Saturday. Last season the Irish made a second consecutive appearance in the national semifinals before losing to Denver in an 11-10 overtime thriller to end their season.
This past weekend was the start to a road sophomore attacker Mikey Wynne and the Irish hope ends in May with a National Championship. Every year the makeup and look of the team changes and with that the coaching staff uses these fall practices as an instructional period to teach them the language, the pace and the style at which they will play this upcoming spring.
"We did lose some good players from last year and need to work hard to become a solid team this year," said Wynne. "With that being said, all the guys on the team get along so well it's easy to pick up right where we left off last season."
Friday's practice really was an instructional period. Not only did the coaching come from Coach Corrigan and the rest of the coaching staff, but it also came from the upper classmen.
Despite leaders like Jim Marlatt, Jack Near, Nick Ossello, and Conor Doyle graduating, Wynne believes this roster still has all the necessary leadership needed to be successful.
"I believe everyone on the team is a leader in some sort of way... From starters to scout team players, everyone has a responsibility," Wynne said. "I would love to help step up and assist the younger guys when they need guidance."
Seen here, upperclass defensemen Garrett Epple and Thomas Stephen help freshman Charlie Trense get his footwork and stick handling skills down with this defensive drill.
The Irish have 12 new freshmen on the roster at the moment. Of those freshmen, three of them were named Under Armour All-Americans. This incoming class has a lot of talent and that talent was put on display on Saturday during the Blue/Gold Intrasquad scrimmage.
Although the scrimmage had to be delayed an hour due to thunder storms in the area, the Irish "shook down the thunder" (Notre Dame Fight Song shout out!) and played incredibly well.
Sophomore midfielder Brendan Collins had an "ESPN Top 10"-worthy play in the scrimmage when he juked out two defenders on his way to a goal for the Gold squad. Meanwhile, freshman UA All-American Timmy Phillips impressed when he sprinted down the field with a man on him and rocketed one in for a goal.
Junior midfielder Sergio Perkovic performed well as always with two goals in the scrimmage.
Meanwhile, defensemen Michael Langdon, Alex Hurdle, and William Young frustrated the Blue squad in the first 25 minutes of the scrimmage. They crowded the middle of the field, fielded ground balls well and just overall played a good, physical game together.
Wynne, he was really impressed with freshman midfielder Drew Schantz over the
weekend. "I really think he [Schantz] is a very athletic and smart lacrosse
player. That class has a lot of talent but Schantz was the one who stuck out
the most to me."
At the moment there are four goalies on the roster for the Fighting Irish. Upperclassmen keepers Conor Kelly and Shane Doss performed at a high level and Michael Marchese stepped up and made some big saves during the scrimmage.
However, it was the freshman from Basking Ridge, New Jersey that really stood out to me. Owen Molloy has great stick work in the crease, displayed super quick hands and never got fazed while he was out there competing. As the biggest goalie the Irish have on the roster weighing in at 182 lbs and standing 6'0'' tall, it would not surprise me if we hear more about No. 54 as the season approaches.
Overall, everyone on both the Blue and the Gold squads played well on Saturday during the Intrasquad scrimmage. They passed the ball well, were in the right position to get good shots on goal, were physical on defense and, above all else, communicated well all over the field. The Irish will continue to train, improve, and, most importantly, gel as a cohesive unit long through the offseason months of the fall and winter and into the 2016 season.