May 21, 2015
Will the fifth time be the charm?
For the second straight season, the third time in four years, the fourth time in six seasons and the fifth time in history, the University of Notre Dame men's lacrosse program heads into Memorial Day weekend with dreams of an NCAA title.
This time the site is Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia where the top-seeded Irish (12-2) play in the first national semifinal at 1 p.m. Saturday against fourth-seeded Denver (15-2). That game is a rematch of a March 7 game at Denver that was won 12-11 in overtime by the Pioneers. The second semifinal features sixth-seeded Maryland versus Johns Hopkins. Winners return at 1 p.m. Monday to play for the national championship.
Here's what took place today as the Irish began their journey:
10:30 a.m. -- After bagels for breakfast, head coach Kevin Corrigan and his squad spend a little more than an hour on the field in their final home-field workout of the 2015 season.
12:15 p.m. -- The Irish traveling party heads to Atlantic Aviation in South Bend to board its charter flight to Philadelphia.
It's a big day from a pubic relations standpoint for the Notre Dame program as three players (junior attack man Matt Kavanagh, sophomore midfielder Sergio Perkovic and junior defenseman Matt Landis) merit first-team All-America honors from the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association. It's the first time the Irish have had three first-team picks, and maybe the best news is that all three will return for 2016.
1:38 p.m. -- It's wheels up for the Notre Dame group in their FalconAir iJet.
3:05 p.m. -- The Irish land in rainy and overcast Philadelphia after a smooth ride from South Bend and move via bus to their headquarter hotel, the Sheraton Society Hill just off Route 95 on the east side of the downtown area.
5:10 p.m. -- The Notre Dame team heads by bus to the nearby National Constitution Center for a casual media availability with the other three Division I men's teams (Philadelphia product P.J. Finley draws the requests) and the four remaining Division I women's teams. There's a proclamation from the mayor of Philadelphia (Corrigan and the other head coaches pose for photos) and then an hour-long buffet banquet for the competing teams. The after-dinner program includes highlight videos.
Before dinner, the teams view a 17-minute multi-media presentation titled "Freedom Rising" that captures the birth of the United States, the writing of the U.S. Constitution in 1787 and the spirit of "We the People."
Also presented are the NCAA Elite 89 Awards that go to the individual at each championship final site with the top grade-point average. Sergio Perkovic is Notre Dame's nominee.
7:45 p.m. -- The Irish players take their bus back to the hotel, while Corrigan and members of the Irish staff remain for an hour-long NCAA administrative to discuss details of the days to come.
For the fifth straight year, Westwood One will carry the semifinal and final games live on its network.
On Saturday against Denver, the Irish will be facing their 12th straight ranked opponent (eight of them ranked in the top 10)--a streak that started when Notre Dame played at fourth-rated Denver back in early March.
-- by John Heisler, senior associate athletics director