February 10, 2011

NCAA Preview: No. 7 Notre Dame

by Matt DaSilva | Lacrosse Magazine Online Staff

The February issue of Lacrosse Magazine features an extensive NCAA lacrosse preview, from Division I through Division III, plus in-depth features on the top-ranked Syracuse men and the snake-bitten Cal women. Lacrosse Magazine Online (laxmagazine.com) examines the key players, strengths, weaknesses, best- and worst-case scenarios, sleepers, what's new, what's not and rival coaches' takes on each of the top 10-ranked teams in Division I men's and women's lacrosse.

MEN: 10 COR | 9 HOF | 8 DUKE | 7 UND | 6 PTON | 5 MD | 4 SB | 3 UNC | 2 UVA | 1 CUSE
WOMEN: 10 UND | 9 JMU | 8 PENN | 7 UVA | 6 GTOWN | 5 CUSE | 4 DUKE | 3 UNC | 2 NW | 1 MD

NO. 7 NOTRE DAME

Long-stick midfielder Andrew Irving's ability between the lines sparks Notre Dame's transition game.

© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com

Head Coach: Kevin Corrigan
Conference: Big East
2010 Records: 10-7, 2-4
2011 Opener: Sunday, Feb. 20 vs. Duke | Schedule

KEY PLAYERS

M Zach Brenneman (Sr.)
6-foot-3, 215-pound middie led Irish with 42 points (29g, 13a) and came of age in the final four with three goals each in the semifinal against Cornell and final against Duke.

M David Earl (Sr.)
Throwback middie plays offense, defense, faceoff wing, man-down and even man-up at times. “There’s not much he can’t do,” Corrigan said of Earl (22g, 49 GBs). “You have to drag him off the field.”

LSM Andrew Irving (Sr.)
Crafty long pole (76 GBs) has learned how to take calculated risks without sacrificing integrity of defense.

STRENGTHS

• Speed to burn at midfield, a great asset with crisp feeder in the cage
• Depth on defense with five All-American caliber long poles

WEAKNESSES

• Lack of playmakers on attack makes it easy for opponents to two-pole midfield
• Systems require patience; personnel perhaps better suited to run and gun

BEST CASE

Notre Dame snuffs out Duke’s rebuilding offense in the Feb. 20 opener, the defense giving John Kemp an opportunity to build confidence with some popcorn saves from the outside. The Irish roll from there behind their latest great find at goalie.

WORST CASE

Duke, out to prove its offense can still put up points in the post-Crotty and Quinzani era, throttles Notre Dame in the opener, picks apart Kemp and forces the Irish to get out of system going forward.

SLEEPER

D Jake Brems (Jr.)
Brems took advantage of Sam Barnes’ absence from fall ball (sports hernia) and has forced his way into the rotation, likely as a starter.  “Jake Brems is a guy you’ll never notice,” Corrigan said. “You won’t notice him for two reasons: his guy won’t be scoring, and he won’t be making any plays that make you go ‘Wow.’”

RIVAL COACH'S TAKE

"They'll find out if it was the goalie or if it was them. In the NCAA tournament they made a lot fewer mistakes."

WHAT'S NEW?

Notre Dame will have new lids in 2011, switching from the Riddell helmets to the sleek Cascade models. The Irish have also added North Carolina to their schedule.

WHAT'S NOT?

The defense. Don't expect new wrinkles from a staunch unit that allowed just 7.53 goals per game in 2010. "Scheme is one of those words I hate," defensive coordinator Gerry Byrne said. "We do what we do."

4

Consecutive seasons in which Notre Dame has ranked among the top five defenses in Division I for goals allowed per game.


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