Feb. 21, 2014
#12 PENN STATE (1-1)
#4 NOTRE DAME (1-0)
Saturday, Feb. 22 3 p.m. (ET)
Arlotta Stadium Notre Dame, Ind.
WatchND.tv (free live broadcast)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The weather in South Bend this week has included snow, rain, fog, sun, thunderstorms and ever-changing temperatures. While the February climate in Northern Indiana is unpredictable, one thing a little more certain in the second month of the calendar year is that Notre Dame will win lacrosse games.
The Fighting Irish men's squad is 18-1 in its last 19 February contests and before you start thinking that they are feasting on easy early-season opponents, 11 of those 19 squads were ranked, including five top-10 teams. The latest ranked February foe for No. 4 Notre Dame will be No. 12 Penn State on Saturday in the home opener at Arlotta Stadium (3 p.m. ET). The Fighting Irish and Nittany Lions will be meeting for the 18th consecutive season and Notre Dame leads the all-time series 15-5.
The lone Irish loss in their recent run of February success was a 4-3 overtime setback to Penn State two years ago at Arlotta Stadium. Notre Dame returned the favor last season with a 10-9 overtime triumph over the eighth-ranked Nittany Lions in University Park, Pa.
That was one of Notre Dame's five victories over top-10 foes last season and two of those wins came in February. Early-season wins against quality competition builds equity that can mean big things come NCAA Championship selection time in May.
When his gaudy 23-4 February record at Notre Dame was brought to Kevin Corrigan's attention by the NBC Sports Network announcers following Sunday's 19-7 season-opening win at Jacksonville, the Fighting Irish head coach responded jokingly with, "The crazy thing is that I hate February lacrosse. I think we should start the season April 1 and play in some warm weather. But maybe I'm wrong."
Someone who agrees with that sentiment is former Fighting Irish defenseman and current ESPN broadcaster Eamon McAnaney, who has made it known that he would like to #pushtheseasonback, but it would serve his alma mater well to try to expand the year's shortest month and make it the longest.
However, Notre Dame is far from a one-month wonder. The Fighting Irish have compiled enough wins in the other three months of the season to rank third nationally in winning percentage (.773) since the beginning of the 2008 campaign.
So whether it's the complicated climate of late winter or the sunny days of spring, the Fighting Irish have treated losses like they are the crater-sized potholes that arrive this time of year ... they tend to avoid them.
-- Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director
SETTING THE STAGE
No. 4 Notre Dame (1-0) will open the home portion of its slate Saturday against No. 12 Penn State (1-1). Face-off is slated for 3 p.m. (ET) at Arlotta Stadium.
A free live broadcast will be streamed on WatchND.tv. Live stats are available via Gametracker on UND.com.
The Fighting Irish opened the season Sunday with a 19-7 win at Jacksonville.
Notre Dame used 13 different goal scorers in Sunday's 19-7 season-opening victory at Jacksonville. Leading the way was sophomore attackman Matt Kavanagh, who posted three goals and four assists. Fellow attackman Conor Doyle, a junior, joined Kavanagh with a hat trick.
The 19 goals were the most for the Fighting Irish since a 19-7 win over Dartmouth on Feb. 28, 2009. That game also was the last time the Irish netted eight goals in a quarter until an eight-goal first period versus Jacksonville.
Those were the most goals scored in a season-opener for the Fighting Irish since a 21-5 triumph over Canisius in the 1993 opener.
FANTASTIC FEBRUARYS FOR THE FIGHTING IRISH
Notre Dame is 18-1 in its last 19 games played in February. Eleven of those wins have come against a ranked opponent. Fighting Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan is 23-4 in the month of February during his Notre Dame tenure.
PLAYING PENN STATE
Saturday will be the 21st meeting all-time between Notre Dame and Penn State. The Fighting Irish lead the series 15-5, including wins in 10 of the last 11 showdowns. This is the 18th consecutive season the two teams have squared off.
The last two encounters have been decided in overtime. Last season, Notre Dame claimed a 10-9 overtime victory at Penn State. The Nittany Lions won 4-3 in overtime during the 2012 season at Arlotta Stadium. Penn State is 2-7 all-time at Notre Dame.
LOOKING AT THE NITTANY LIONS
Penn State is 1-1 this season following a 22-7 season-opening win over Michigan and a 12-11 overtime setback to Loyola.
Senior attackman Shane Sturgis has a team-high nine goals, while sophomore attackman TJ Sanders has seven goals.
Senior Austin Kaut has started both games in goal and has an 8.99 goals-against average and a .444 save percentage.
Penn State went 12-5 last season and posted a 6-0 mark in the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). The Nittany Lions were seeded eighth in the 2013 NCAA Championship and fell to Yale, 10-7, in the first round.
Head coach Jeff Tambroni is in his fourth season at Penn State.
THE LAST TIME
Notre Dame captured a 10-9 overtime victory last season at Penn State. Irish attackman Matt Kavanagh produced the game winner with 1:34 left in the first overtime period.
A late flurry from both teams sent the game into the extra session. Notre Dame tied the contest (8-8) with 24 seconds left on a Conor Doyle goal, which was his third of the day. The Irish took a 9-8 lead with just 18 seconds remaining when Liam O'Connor won the faceoff and scored his second goal of the game. A tally from Penn State's Tom LaCrosse with one second left knotted the contest at nine.
The game featured seven ties and four lead changes.
IRISH AGAINST THE CAA
Notre Dame is 28-18 all-time against current members of the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). The Fighting Irish went 1-1 versus the CAA last season. The Irish topped Penn State (10-9 OT) and fell to Hofstra (8-7).
KAVANAGH PICKS UP WHERE HE LEFT OFF
After leading the Irish in goals (32) and assists (16) last season, sophomore attackman Matt Kavanagh registered a career-high seven points on three goals and a career-best four assists in Sunday's season opener at Jacksonville.
The seven points were the most for a Notre Dame player since current senior attackman John Scioscia posted seven (6g, 1a) last season against Marquette. Kavanagh became the first Irish player to have four assists in a game since Neal Hicks did so versus Ohio State on May 3, 2009.
Kavanagh has scored two or more goals in 12 of his 17 career games with the Irish. He has netted three or more goals on five occasions.
Four Notre Dame players netted their first career goal in Sunday's season-opening win at Jacksonville. Sophomores Eddy Lubowicki (2 goals) and Trevor Brosco (1 goal) along with freshmen Sergio Perkovic (2 goals) and Robert Collins (1 goal) all found the back of the net for the first time.
FACE OFF SUCCESS
Notre Dame dominated the faceoff X in the season opener versus Jacksonville. The Fighting Irish won 23 of the 30 attempts (.767) and senior Liam O'Connor led the way with 19 wins in 25 chances (.760). Junior Nick Ossello was 3-for-3 and freshman P.J. Finley was 1-for-2.
IRISH SUPER IN SEASON OPENERS
Sunday's win at Jacksonville improved Notre Dame to 27-7 all-time in season openers, including a 21-5 record in the Kevin Corrigan era.
The Irish have won a program-record 12 straight season openers.
FIGHTING IRISH RETURN OFFENSE
Notre Dame returned 111 of its 159 goals (.698) from last season. The Fighting Irish welcomed back four of their top five goal scorers from the 2013 campaign (Matt Kavanagh 32, Conor Doyle 20, Jim Marlatt 20, John Scioscia 14).
A LOOK BACK
Notre Dame went 11-5 overall last season and finished third in the BIG EAST with a 4-2 mark. The Fighting Irish finished the 2013 regular season with the nation's top RPI and earned a program-best No. 2 seed for the NCAA Championship before advancing to the NCAA quarterfinals for the fourth straight season.
Attackman Matt Kavanagh led the Irish in goals (32) and assists (16). The 32 goals established a program record for a freshman. Jim Marlatt was the leading midfielder scorer with 20 goals to go along with 12 assists.
Notre Dame returns two starting close defensemen in seniors Brian Buglione and Stephen O'Hara. The Fighting Irish finished the 2013 season ranked 10th nationally in scoring defense with an 8.31 goals-against average.
HOME SWEET HOME
Notre Dame is 45-6 (.882) at home since the beginning of the 2006 season.
FIGHTING IRISH ENTER THE ACC Notre Dame is entering its first season of Atlantic Coast Conference play. The Fighting Irish have defeated every other ACC member at least once in the last four seasons and the Irish have an 8-8 record against its ACC counterparts (including Syracuse) since the beginning of the 2010 campaign. The ACC will be Notre Dame's third different league in the last six seasons. The Irish left the Great Western Lacrosse League following the 2009 campaign to join the BIG EAST.
Nearly every Notre Dame game this season can be seen on TV or the Internet. The Fighting Irish will have five contests on ESPNU (vs. Virginia, at Syracuse, vs. Duke, vs. Maryland, vs. Army), one game on ESPN3 (at North Carolina) and Sunday's season opener at Jacksonville aired on the NBC Sports Network.
WatchND.tv will air the remainder of Notre Dame's home games that are played outside at Arlotta Stadium. Those streaming broadcasts are free of charge. Notre Dame's showdown at Ohio State (March 25, 4 p.m.) also will be streamed online (fee required).
A QUARTET OF PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS
Four Fighting Irish players received preseason All-America honors from Inside Lacrosse. Stephen O'Hara (Sr./D) was a first-team pick, while Jim Marlatt (Sr./M) appeared on the second team and Matt Kavanagh (So./A) was a third-team selection. Matt Landis (So./D) garnered honorable mention accolades.
Notre Dame is ranked fourth in the latest USILA coaches poll and eight Fighting Irish opponents also appear in the rankings, including six in the top seven.
The Fighting Irish are entering their first season of ACC play and all six of the league members can be found in the top seven. Syracuse, Duke and North Carolina occupy the top three spots, respectively, while Virginia is tied for fifth and Maryland is seventh.
Notre Dame's non-conference ledger features three other ranked foes - No. 5 Denver, No. 12 Penn State and No. 17 Ohio State.
O'HARA PICKED IN MLL DRAFT
Senior defenseman Stephen O'Hara was selected by the Ohio Machine with the first pick of the sixth round (41st overall) of January's 2014 Major League Lacrosse (MLL) Draft.
O'Hara has started every game over the last two seasons in Notre Dame's close defense, which has been one of the best in the nation over that time. The Fighting Irish allowed just 8.31 goals per game last season. That mark ranked 10th nationally and the Irish were first in 2012 after notching a 6.31 goals-against average. O'Hara, a Fighting Irish team captain, was named to the All-BIG EAST Second Team last season.
Junior attackman Conor Doyle is joined by his older brother Jack Doyle on this season's roster. Jack, a midfielder, graduated from Harvard and was on the Crimson squad for four seasons. He combined to play in 28 games during his freshman and sophomore seasons, but was limited to just one contest over the last two years due to injury. He tallied 14 goals and eight assists at Harvard.
Conor Kelly LOOKS TO KEEP CAGE CONSISTENCY GOING FOR IRISH
Junior goalie Conor Kelly made his first career start in the Jacksonville contest and made four saves and allowed four goals in 45 minutes of action.
Entering this season, Kelly had played a total of 12:35. All of those minutes came in last season's 17-5 win over Marquette. He made one save and allowed two goals in that contest.
Kelly is looking to become the latest in a long line of outstanding goalies for the Fighting Irish. Kelly is taking over for John Kemp, who earned All-America honors three times with the Irish. Kemp was named to the USILA All-America First Team in 2012 and earned honorable mention citations in 2011 and 2013.
Kemp was the third straight Notre Dame goalie to receive All-America honors. Scott Rodgers earned third team All-America honors in 2009 and was an honorable mention pick in 2010. He also was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2010 NCAA Championship.
Joey Kemp, John's older brother, was a three-time All-America honoree at Notre Dame. He copped first-team honors in 2008 in addition to honorable mention accolades in 2006 and 2007.
Two other Notre Dame goalies have garnered All-America honors. Alex Cade was an honorable mention pick in 1996 and Kirk Howell was on the USILA Second Team in 2001.
Notre Dame and Maryland are the only two programs to earn a spot in the NCAA Championship field in each of the last eight seasons.
Notre Dame and Duke are the only two schools to advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship in each of the last four seasons.