April 17, 2014
#5 MARYLAND (9-2, 3-1 ACC)
Saturday, April 19 Noon (ET)
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - It will be a short-lived run as conference rivals for ACC newcomer Notre Dame and Big Ten-bound Maryland, but the two programs will make the most of it by meeting twice in a seven-day span.
Saturday's showdown at Arlotta Stadium (noon ET on ESPNU) will be the only regular-season encounter between the Fighting Irish (6-4, 2-2) and Terrapins (9-2, 3-1) as ACC counterparts, yet they will clash again next Friday in the semifinals of the ACC Championship at PPL Park in Chester, Pa.
Last week, the Fighting Irish notched wins over Marquette (12-7) and Robert Morris (15-5) and a victory on Saturday would give them their first three-game winning streak of the season. Topping the fifth-ranked Terrapins won't be easy, but it provides another opportunity for the Irish to bolster their postseason resume.
Maryland will be the sixth team in the top nine of this week's United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) poll that the eighth-ranked Fighting Irish will have played this season. Notre Dame is 2-3 against those other top-tier teams and both wins came against ACC foes (North Carolina and Virginia). The Irish still have No. 16 Army on their slate (May 3).
"Maryland is a big game for us; we want to win the ACC and we want to win the national championship and Maryland is one of the teams you have to go through to do that," Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan said. "We're excited about that challenge and we're excited about having them here."
Speaking of marquee showdowns, a matchup to watch on Saturday will be at the faceoff X. The Fighting Irish boast the nation's second-best faceoff unit (.641) and the Terrapins are ninth in that category (.606). Individually, Notre Dame's Liam O'Connor ranks third nationally (.644) and Maryland's Charlie Raffa is seventh (.640).
After winning faceoffs, O'Connor has been effective with the ball. The senior has three goals and four assists this season and he registered a career-high three assists against Robert Morris on Saturday. O'Connor was part of an offensive barrage that saw the Irish score 14 goals in the first 40 minutes versus the Colonials.
The Fighting Irish maximized their depth early and often against Robert Morris. Notre Dame had a season-high 11 goal scorers and saw a season-high 46 players take to the field. That kind of depth could be crucial down the final stretch of the season as the Irish look to make some noise in May.
"At this time of year you're looking for one more little piece to the puzzle so getting the chance to see a lot of guys out there in game action was important," Corrigan said.
You never know who's going to step up during any given game for the Fighting Irish. Twenty-one different players have scored a goal this season and Notre Dame is averaging 9.2 goal scorers in its six victories. In those wins, the Irish are averaging 14.7 goals, while they have been limited to a 7.8 mark in their four setbacks.
The Irish offense, which ranks 14th nationally, will be put to the test against a Terrapin defense that ranks third in the country by surrendering just seven goals per contest. Seven has been an unkind number to the Irish this season as that has been their final tally in three of their four setbacks.
The Fighting Irish hope it'll be lucky No. 7 on Saturday as they look to secure their seventh victory of the season in their first of two against the Terps.
-- Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director
The University of Notre Dame men's lacrosse team pursues excellence on and off the field through the three pillars in which the program is built: Character, Culture & Community. These three foundational values guide the promise of the program, which is to provide its student-athletes with the most compelling and enriching experience in all of college athletics. Through academics, competition, service and travel, the program aims to immerse its players in situations that enhance their student-athlete experience to help them become the people, students and teammates they aspire to be.
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