Nov. 12, 2000
by Bernie Cafarelli
There is a sense of quiet confidence for 13th-year Notre Dame men's lacrosse coach Kevin Corrigan when he contemplates the 2001 season. While the start of the campaign may be more than four months away, Corrigan and his coaching staff can't help but think about the unlimited potential for success this season.
Last year's dramatic 15-13 upset of Loyola in the first round of the NCAA tournament surprised everyone but those who had a part in the Irish reaching the NCAA quarterfinals for the second time in five years. Winners of 10 games last season for the fourth time in nine years, Notre Dame returns eight starters and seven of its top eight scorers from last year's squad which finished with a 10-4 record.
Although there is a wealth of potential this season in what may arguably be the most balanced and talented squad in school history, Corrigan is careful when evaluating the upcoming campaign.
"There is always a fine line between winning and losing," Corrigan says.
"This is a team that is going to take nothing for granted. This group of players, especially the seniors, has worked extremely hard to position themselves for accomplishing some special things this season, but they also know what it takes to reach those goals."
Notre Dame's attack unit could be regarded as one of the most potent in the country as the Irish return all three of its starters. The trio of seniors - Tom Glatzel, David Ulrich and Jon Harvey - were the top three scorers for the Irish a year ago as they combined for 82 goals and 51 assists.
Glatzel and Ulrich, high school teammates at Boys' Latin in Baltimore, Md., were USILA (United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association) honorable mention All-America selections in 2000. Glatzel scored 38 goals (the third most by a Notre Dame player in a single season) and dished off 18 assists for 56 points, while Ulrich (David) tallied 17 goals and tied the Irish single-season assist mark with 38 assists for 49 points. Harvey, who had scored just one goal in his two previous seasons, had one of the most dramatic scoring turnarounds in school history, as he netted 28 goals in his junior season.
"With the return of Tom, David and Jon at attack, we are blessed with tremendous scoring ability up top," Corrigan says.
"Collectively, this is the most talented group of attack players Notre Dame has ever had. Tom (Glatzel) and David (Ulrich) have distinguished themselves as two of the nation's premier players, while Jon (Harvey) has made unbelievable strides."
Notre Dame's midfield unit also boasts considerable scoring potential as the Irish lose just one starter and return several key players who also have displayed a great ability to find the net.
Todd Ulrich, a mainstay in the midfield starting unit, returns for his final season along with another fourth-year player, Steve Bishko. Ulrich (Todd) scored nine goals and dished off nine assists last season, while Bishko had 17 goals and six assists. Junior Chris Young, a 12-game starter, finished the season with 12 goals and two assists, while junior John Flandina, scored eight goals and six assists.
"We are extremely balanced offensively and, once again will have a number of individuals who are going to score goals for us. Our scoring balance proved to be very beneficial for us a year ago," Corrigan says.
Defensively, the Irish again will be strong with the loss of just one starter and the return of goalie Kirk Howell. Senior Mike Adams and junior A.J. Wright, both 14-game starters, helped anchor a defense that registered a 9.07 goals against average in 2000.
The unit also is strengthened by the return of junior Chad DeBolt in the defensive midfield. DeBolt, who played football in the fall, saw action in all 14 games and ranked as one of the nation's leaders in face-off percentage as he won more than 60 percent of his opportunities. The Irish were one of the most efficient teams in the nation in that category a year ago, ranking sixth overall with a face-off winning percentage of 58.7.
After two years as a starter, Howell, a fifth-year player, is poised to make a run at All-America honors. He registered an 8.70 goals-against average and .563 save percentage in his second season as a full-time starter.
"Last year, we began the season untested and inexperienced on defense, but I think that group and the rest of our defensive corps really rose to the occasion. Having Kirk back is certainly a bonus for us. He's developed into one of the finest goalies in the country," Corrigan says.
Notre Dame once again will face a demanding schedule that is highlighted by a visit to Charlottesville, Va., in March to take on perennial powerhouse Virginia, Corrigan's alma mater. The matchup will be the third ever for the two schools, but the first during the regular season.
"Our schedule is extremely challenging," Corrigan says.
"The Great Western Lacrosse League is greatly improved and our non-league games give us the chance to compete with the top teams from around the country."