Feb. 13, 2013
NOTRE DAME MEN'S LACROSSE 2013 SEASON PREVIEW
Coming off the program's second NCAA Championship Weekend appearance in three seasons, the Notre Dame men's lacrosse team is primed to make it back to the big stage Memorial Day Weekend thanks to a deep and talented roster. The Fighting Irish welcome back eight starters, including five in the attack and midfield, from last season's squad that went 13-3, won the BIG EAST regular-season title and finished as national semifinalists.
"I like that we have a lot of different elements of what I think you need to be successful," Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan said. "We're athletic, we have a great work ethic and we have experience at every position. We're good where you need to be, in the goal. We have a lot of different guys who can make plays. That's a pretty good place to start when you're putting a team together."
First team All-American and 2012 BIG EAST Goalkeeper of the Year John Kemp is back in the cage for his senior season. Kemp ranked first nationally last season in both goals-against average (6.27) and save percentage (.637).
"John Kemp had a terrific year last year," Corrigan said. "He's probably as good as anyone out there, but he has to go back out there and do it again and he knows that. He has unbelievable poise and confidence in the cage and has the perfect mentality for a goalie. He has a short memory. He doesn't linger on the great saves and he doesn't linger on the goals. He just moves on to the next play every time."
Two starters - senior Matt Miller and junior Stephen O'Hara - are back in front of Kemp in the close defensive unit, but the Irish will have a key hole to fill with the loss of first team All-American and `12 BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year Kevin Randall, who was a three-year starter.
Miller and O'Hara started every game last season and helped the Fighting Irish rank first nationally in scoring defense (6.31 gpg) and man-down defense (.892). Notre Dame is the only team to finish in the top five nationally in scoring defense in each of the last six seasons. Miller earned honorable mention All-America accolades last season in addition to being second team all-BIG EAST.
"Defensively, we're still looking for a few answers," Corrigan said. "We lost some guys both up top and on close defense. We're looking for the answers and aren't quite sure yet who exactly will step in there or if it'll be by committee. We feel good that we have the experience of Matt Miller, Stephen O'Hara and (long-stick midfielder) Ty Andersen. So that's not a terrible place to be."
Three starters on attack, including `12 first team all-BIG EAST pick Sean Rogers, are back for the Fighting Irish. Rogers, a fifth-year senior, has posted a team-high goal total in each of the last two seasons, including a 22-goal effort in '12.
"Sean Rogers brings a lot of experience and he has always been a guy that has been poised," Corrigan said. "Sean has a lot of maturity to him beyond the fact that he's a fifth-year senior. He'll be the leader of our offense in a lot of ways."
Junior Westy Hopkins and sophomore Conor Doyle are the other returning starters in the attack. Hopkins registered 18 goals and seven assists last season, while Doyle compiled 13 goals and seven assists. In all, the Irish welcome back 83 percent of their goals scored from last season.
"Westy Hopkins has a knack for scoring big goals," Corrigan said. "We're able to put him in better situations now because of the people we have around him. I think he's getting more of the right kind of opportunities and that's going to be good for him."
The attack will also feature talented freshman Matt Kavanagh, who helped the United States win the Under-19 World Championship this past summer. Kavanagh was named tournament MVP and the most outstanding attackman of the event.
"Matt Kavanagh is terrific," Corrigan said. "He is different than a lot of freshman because he has a lot of skills. He's good inside and he's good outside. He's good with the ball and he's good without the ball. Matt can score and he can distribute."
A key cog in the midfield is junior Jim Marlatt, who made his college debut last season after missing his entire freshman campaign due to injury. Marlatt had an impressive first season with the Irish as he tallied 19 goals and a team-high 12 assists en route to honorable mention All-America accolades. He also was named first team all-BIG EAST.
"Jim Marlatt is probably our best shooter from the midfield," Corrigan said. "He stretches the defense and that puts a lot of pressure on the defense."
The Fighting Irish used three midfield lines last season and eight of those nine players are back. Senior Ryan Foley joins Marlatt as a returnee on the first midfield line. Foley posted 13 goals and eight assists last season.
"I think Ryan Foley is playing the most complete lacrosse of his career," Corrigan said. "He's doing a little bit of everything. He can invert, he can score, he can feed the ball and play off the ball."
Notre Dame also boasts a talented defensive midfield both at the short-stick and long-pole. Headlining the short-stick group is senior Quinn Cully, while fellow senior Tyler Andersen is the top returnee at the long-stick position. Notre Dame also welcomes Maryland transfer David Miller to the short-stick unit. David, the older brother of Matt Miller, graduated from Maryland and will use his final season of eligibility with the Fighting Irish.
"We have a lot of competition for spots in the midfield," Corrigan said. "We have depth and experience. We have to find out what roles we are going to play guys in. The new rules are going to make it a challenge too because we aren't quite sure yet if you can get your d-middies on and off effectively".
The Fighting Irish also welcome back both of their primary faceoff guys in junior Liam O'Connor and sophomore Nick Ossello. O'Connor went 94-for-189 (.497) last season, while Ossello was 53-for-102 (.520).
"Liam O'Connor has become not just our faceoff guy, but he's a better field player now than he's ever been", Corrigan said. "He can stay out there and play offense and defense. He's not a guy we're afraid to have out on the field like a lot of faceoff guys. He has all the skills for the game and that makes him valuable."
"Nick Ossello is another terrific athlete. He's strong, fast and physical. He brings that to the game along with a passion that's valuable to us as well."
Here's a further breakdown of the 2013 Notre Dame squad ...
The trio of Rogers, Hopkins and Doyle has combined for 82 starts during their college careers. They also have teamed up to post 103 goals in six combined seasons.
Along with the veterans, the Fighting Irish will rely on the rookie Kavanagh and juniors Ryan Mix and John Scioscia. Mix scored three goals last season and he gives the Irish a presence in the crease. Scioscia has not played significant minutes yet for the Irish, but the coaching staff thinks he will have an impact on this season's team.
"Each of these guys (Rogers, Hopkins and Doyle) does something different well and that's a good thing," Corrigan said. "Right now we have a bit of a logjam with about six guys that are really competing for the playing time (in the attack). However that plays out, it'll be good for us."
Junior Alex Eaton registered two goals and one assist last season as part of the team's man-up unit.
Sophomores Kyle Runyon and Logan Connolly bring good skills to the offensive end of the field and will provide quality depth. Corrigan also feels there is a chance Runyon could see time in the midfield. Freshman Eddy Lubowicki is another talented attackman that has a bright future at Notre Dame.
Just like the attack, Notre Dame's midfield also boasts talent, depth and experience. Last season, the Fighting Irish used three midfield lines, but Corrigan isn't sure if he will go that route this year.
"I don't know (if we'll use three midfield lines)," Corrigan said. "That's something that evolved in the early part of last season. We'll see if that same dynamic is in play. We haven't made a decision about that."
Sophomore Will Corrigan is likely to join Marlatt and Foley on the first midfield. Corrigan, the son of the Irish head coach, was a key factor on Notre Dame's third midfield line last season as he tallied five goals and one assist.
"Will Corrigan brings a variety of skills just like Ryan Foley," the Irish head coach said. "He can do a lot of different things. When you put a scorer like Jim (Marlatt) with two guys who do a lot of things on-ball and off-ball that can be an effective group. He can also go down and play good defense. He's just a good decision maker with the ball and that's always valuable."
Seniors Steve Murphy and Tyler Kimball will be the anchors of Notre Dame's second midfield once again this season. In `12, Murphy registered five goals and seven assists, while Kimball compiled two goals and two assists. Kimball was hurt during the fall season, but is back healthy and ready to go this spring.
"Steve Murphy is poised to have a big year," Corrigan said. "He's worked very hard. He's probably our most dynamic one-on-one dodger. That's a good thing to have because you need to have someone to get buy their guy and Steve is a guy that can consistently do that.
"I'd love to see Ty Kimball have the breakout year that I think he's capable of having. It's just a matter of him finding that poise in the moment and finishing that shot or that play that he puts himself in the position to make. He does a good job of putting himself in a position to make plays now it's just matter of finishing those plays. If he does, he can be a very impactful guy for us."
Fellow senior Pat Cotter produced six goals and two assists from the third midfield last season.
Jack Near, a sophomore, played in every game during his rookie season as part of Notre Dame's talented defensive midfield. Corrigan will use Near as a two-way midfielder this season and thinks he has a bright future in that role.
"Jack Near is a terrific athlete," Corrigan said. "He's going to play on a regular midfield and get some two-way run. That's going to allow him to expand his game offensively. He's probably our best athlete in the midfield. His speed and athleticism are valuable to us in a lot of ways."
Even with Near moving to a two-way midfielder role, Corrigan really likes what he has at the short-stick defensive midfielder position.
"I don't know if there will be a better group of short-stick d-middies as those two (Quinn Cully and David Miller)," Corrigan said. "David Miller's attitude and work ethic have been terrific. He is really committed to making this a big year for him and the team.
"Quinn Cully has been a great leader this year. He has been working hard. He has played major minutes for us in that role. We feel really good about where we are there."
Cully, Foley, Rogers and Matt Miller will captain the Irish this season.
Junior Tyler Brenneman has played significant minutes during his first two seasons at Notre Dame. He was on the third line last season and Corrigan likes the way he makes others around him better. Another veteran in the midfield group is senior Andy Will.
Sophomores Connor McCollough and Will Gilmartin figure to be factors in the midfield rotation this season.
Notre Dame features five freshman midfielders. Trevor Brosco brings a variety of skills to the field, including the ability to faceoff. Cole Riccardi is a big, physical athlete that has shown a lot of improvement already in his college career.
Bobby Gray has switched from attack to midfield. Corrigan is not sure if this will be a permanent move or one just for his rookie season, but he feels it will help with Gray's development.
Fellow freshmen Kyle Trolley and Adam Goins have been hampered by injuries, but bring athleticism and skill to the midfield position. Trolley is Notre Dame's first-ever Canadian player.
The main question for the Fighting Irish defense will be who will occupy the third spot down low. Juniors Brian Buglione, Michael Shepardson and Chris Prevoznik all are candidates for that job.
"Brian Buglione is another big, physical player and he brings an intelligence and a discipline to the field," Corrigan said. "Chris Prevoznik is probably the most dynamic player up for the spot. He flies around the field and looks to make plays. He brings a lot of passion to the game. Michael Shepardson is physically gifted. He is big, strong and fast. He is starting to figure out how we need him to play and work as a unit."
Sophomore Henry Williams will back up Andersen at the long-stick midfielder position. Williams can also shift down to close defense if needed. Juniors Matthew Collins and Ryan Smith also add depth to the long-pole group. However, Collins will most likely see time as a short-stick defensive midfielder this season.
The Fighting Irish welcome four freshmen to the defensive unit. Matt Landis can play either up top or down low and could very well see significant minutes during his rookie campaign. Jack Sheridan, Thomas Stephan and Edwin Glazener are the other newcomers in the defense.
Backing up John Kemp will be sophomore Conor Kelly, who did not play in a game during his rookie season.
"Conor Kelly keeps getting better," Corrigan said. "He's had some absolutely brilliant days in the preseason. We have a lot of confidence in Conor as he backs up John. We know he'll be able to step up whether it's now, if something should happen, or next year."
Freshman Andrew Larrabee adds further depth to the goalie position. Corrigan has been very pleased with what he's seen out of Larrabee.
"Andrew Larrabee has been a pleasant addition to our team," the Notre Dame head coach said. "He can really save the ball and that's the first job for the goalie. He's learning to do everything that it takes to be a goalie. He does the main job very, very well."