The season has started off with a bang for the Fighting Irish lacrosse team. First it was All-American Wil Yeatman indefinitely suspended from action after being arrested for DUI, and then beating nemesis # 17 Loyola (MD) 7-6 in Baltimore last Saturday. Notre Dame, one of the preseason Great Western Lacrosse League (GWLL) favorites, looks to make some noise on the national scene despite the loss of Yeatman.
Inside Lacrosse staff writers think Notre Dame will be among the nation's elite and possibly surprise come May in the NCAA Tournament. Here's an early look at what the writers are saying about the Irish:
Except for Princeton, most of the southern and western teams are placed in the lower bracket while the Northern teams face off in upper bracket.
Of the four brackets, I think Notre Dame has the best chance, in this scenario, to break through to Championship Weekend. It all depends on Duke, and I'll trust them to be dominant once I see what they can do this spring.
I don't see Ohio State getting in. I think the Buckeyes are much-improved this year from last season, but there's too many good dark horse teams ahead of OSU. And the GWLL will come down to Notre Dame and Denver. If the GWLL gets two teams in, the Pioneers will snag the second spot.
The Irish are considered one of the best defensive teams in the nation. According to Inside Lacrosse Magazine, "Notre Dame Goalie Joey Kemp is one of the best, as are seniors Sean Dougherty and Ross Zimmerman. They are the 8th best in Division I, hands down!"
Notre Dame has also one of the best face off specialists and teams in the country as well.
"Taylor Clagett (57%) is extremely athletic, which has impressed Irish coach Kevin Corrigan.
He does things I've never seen other people do," Corrigan said. "He'll forward roll to get the ball out forward and come up running into the ball he pushed out. So he's very creative. That kind of thing makes you not only a tough match-up but an unpredictable one as well."
The DeMatha (Hyattsville, MD) graduate has become a student of the face-off. If he can stay healthy (he's had two shoulder surgeries while at Notre Dame) the Irish should be able to control 60% of their draws.
Their top wing players are midfielders Michael Podgajny, Davey Leach, Kelly McKenna and poles Sean Dougherty and Mike Creighton."
Notre Dame also has some top individuals that will help the Irish garner more national attention. Here are a few Irish players that are near the top at their respected positions.
Top Division I Defensemen:
9. Sean Dougherty, Notre Dame
Dougherty had a good showing down the stretch last season and the buzz is that he’ll ick up right where he left off in ’08.
20. Ross Zimmerman, Notre Dame
The junior has started since arriving on campus in South Bend and is poised for a breakout season in 2008.
Top 20 Freshmen:
16. Zach Brenneman, M, Notre Dame
The Irish are talented at the midfeild, but Brenneman is precisely the kind of player that becomes integral in providing depth down the stretch of the season.
Top 20 Middies:
6. Mike Podgajny, Notre Dame
Another viable offensive weapon, Podgajny shoots with velocity and brings a vital outside dodging element to the Irish attack.
Top 15 Goalies:
2. Joey Kemp, Notre Dame
What happens when a highly touted high school recruit sees a boatload of time as a starter and then becomes a senior? He is one of the best goalies in the country.
Top 20 Attackmen:
9. Will Yeatman, Notre Dame
Not quite the LeBron James of college lacrosse for the hype he had to live up to, Yeatman’s versatility impressed everyone as he kicked off his career in fine fashion.
11. Ryan Hoff, Notre Dame
Every source contacted loves his ability to score around the net and wondered why he didn’t get more press.
The #10th ranked Irish will try and make it two in a row when they host #23 Penn State at 1:00 on Sunday at the Loftus Indoor Field.
Nike/Inside Lacrosse Men's DI Media Poll
(Records through February 17, 2008)
TEAM PTS PVS
---- --- ---
1. JOHNS HOPKINS (11) (0-0) 258 1
2. DUKE (2) (1-0) 247 2
3. VIRGINIA (1-0) 232 3
4. GEORGETOWN (0-0) 218 4
5. PRINCETON (0-0) 196 5
6. CORNELL (0-0) 192 6
7. MARYLAND (0-0) 184 7
8. SYRACUSE (1-0) 167 9
9. NORTH CAROLINA (0-0) 162 8
10. (tie) NOTRE DAME (1-0) 132 10
10. (tie) NAVY (2-0) 132 11
12. ALBANY (0-0) 126 12
13. DELAWARE (2-0) 113 13
14. TOWSON (0-0) 81 13
15. HOFSTRA (0-0) 72 15
16. DENVER (1-0) 62 NR
17. LOYOLA MD (0-1) 41 17
18. DREXEL (0-1) 38 19
19. UMBC (0-1) 17 18
20. MASSACHUSETTS (0-0)