April 24, 2014
#9 NOTRE DAME (6-5, 2-3 ACC)
ACC Championship Semifinals
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - If navigating through the stout Atlantic Coast Conference regular season wasn't difficult enough, the ninth-ranked Notre Dame men's lacrosse team now will have to contend with the three squads that handed them a league loss in order to win the ACC Championship in their inaugural appearance.
The first step is Friday's semifinal showdown with No. 5 Maryland, who topped the Fighting Irish 12-8 on Saturday at Arlotta Stadium. The Terrapins (10-2, 4-1 ACC) are the tournament's top seed, while the Irish (6-5, 2-3 ACC) are seeded fourth. Second-ranked Duke and No. 4 Syracuse are seeded second and third, respectively, and will meet in Friday's first semifinal.
"Trust me, we all know how important this game is to us. I don't think there's any thought in anybody's head other than preparing ourselves for Maryland on Friday night," Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan said.
That preparation is a bit different when facing a team you just saw.
"At this time of year it's kind of a nice advantage to not have to go through all of the new preparation that you have to do from a coach's standpoint and from the players," Corrigan said. "When you're looking at film going into the first game, you're looking at how they did against other people. Now, you can look at it specifically at how they did it against us; how their individual matchups were, how collectively they defend certain people or how we do and how effective that was. You get a chance to make direct changes that you know will affect things."
A tournament that features four of the top nine teams in the USILA poll would be fitting for Memorial Day Weekend in Baltimore, but fans in Philadelphia will be treated to the high-caliber lacrosse of the ACC a week before the NCAA pairings are announced.
A strong showing this weekend at PPL Park could go a long way in helping the Fighting Irish lock up an NCAA tournament bid. They might even be able to use some of the good karma left behind by the Notre Dame men's soccer team, who captured the national title at the stadium back in December. The Irish men's lacrosse program also has fond memories of PPL Park after downing Virginia, 12-10, at the stadium during the quarterfinals of the 2012 NCAA Championship.
"We're playing for the playoffs right now and every game matters," sophomore attackman Matt Kavanagh said. "Since we played them (Maryland) a few days ago, we're familiar with what they do on offense and defense so we just have to adjust a few things. Losing to them on Saturday really makes us want to get out there as quick as we can and luckily it's a quick turnaround to Friday. We're really looking forward to this game."
The Fighting Irish hope they will be faced with another quick turnaround and play on Sunday for the league title and its automatic bid to the NCAAs. Notre Dame doesn't have a long history of competing for automatic bids in a league playoff. This will be just the fifth conference tournament appearance for the program and the Irish are 4-2 all-time in such events.
Notre Dame won the only two Great Western Lacrosse League tournaments ever held (2008 & 2009). The Irish were the top seed for both of those tournaments and defeated Ohio State in the final each time.
The team didn't fair so well in the BIG EAST Championship. Notre Dame was the top seed for the league's inaugural tournament in 2012 and fell to St. John's, 8-7, in the semifinals. The Irish were the No. 3 seed for last season's tournament and were topped by No. 2 seed Syracuse, 9-3, in the semifinals.
Oddly enough, the rematch with Maryland is similar to what the Irish faced last season. Notre Dame suffered a setback to Syracuse in the regular-season finale before facing the Orange five days later in the BIG EAST Tournament.
Conference tournaments allow for second chances and the Fighting Irish hope to issue some payback at PPL Park.
-- 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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