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Tuesday, May 21, 2024
The Observer

Despite tournament snub, Irish lacrosse displays resiliency throughout season

The Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team concluded their 2022 season on Saturday, May 7, against Duke. They beat the Blue Devils 16-14 to claim a share of the ACC championship. The Irish endured a demanding yet fruitful season, finishing 8-4 and on a six-game winning streak. They ended the year as the first team out of the NCAA Tournament. 

Schedule causes adversity

The Irish faced one of the most challenging schedules in the division this season, causing a slow start to their success as they took most of their losses within their first few games. This challenge did not discourage the team, however, and after gathering their strength and confidence they quickly turned the season around.

When asked how the Irish handled their strenuous schedule, Coach Corrigan said, “We didn’t handle it as well as we would’ve liked to earlier in the year and it took us a little time to right the ship. But the good news is we did. The guys deserve all the credit for that by individually improving.”

Along with the work and individual development by the players, Corrigan attributes their comeback to changes made in the lineup that gave players new opportunities for individual progress in their play and facilitated improvement for the team as a whole. 

Turning it around

The Irish changed the course of their season in a momentous game against the Syracuse Orange on April 2. That game sparked their current streak. When asked about his most memorable game of the season, Coach Corrigan further solidified the crucial nature of this game. 

“I gotta say the first quarter of our Syracuse game," he said. "We felt like we’d been playing well but hadn't been getting good results so to come out against a team that we certainly have great respect for and score ten goals in the first quarter gave our guys the confidence that they need.” The Irish blasted the Orange 22-6 with immaculate offensive numbers. 

While this game delivered the team the necessary confidence to promote their continued success for the rest of the season, it also held an abundance of individual victories for the players. Junior Jake Taylor made his first career start, notching a first-quarter hat trick. Ultimately, he set a program record with eight goals, pushing his career total to eleven goals. Pat Kavanagh dominated as usual, posting nine points off six assists and three goals. He finished one point shy of the program record that he set against Syracuse last year. Junior Liam Entenmann made thirteen saves and only allowing five goals. The Irish defense also caused 12 turnovers over the course of the game. 

Offense, goaltending among standouts

When asked which players stood out the most this season, Corrigan commended several athletes. “Liam Entenmann in the goal has been playing as well as anyone in the country. Pat Kavanagh on attack. [Senior] Quinn McCahon has started to play more of a two-way midfield road. His play has allowed [graduate student Wheaton] Jackoboice and [sophomore Eric] Dobson to both improve their play. Jake Taylor coming in on the attack and putting the ball on the back of the net.”

Corrigan also  said that “nobody has improved more than our freshman faceoff man Will Lynch.” This improvement will be imperative for next season, as Corrigan will be looking for more depth and consistency at the faceoff position. Most importantly, Corrigan asserts that “it takes a village” and it's hard to mention just one or two players because everyone has been putting in work and making improvements that have contributed to the team’s success. 

Looking forward

Looking ahead to next year, the Irish will take the summer to recover and focus on the educational side of being student-athletes. They'll work on internships and continue their training individually. The team will also graduate three fifth-year defensemen.

"We need people to step up in those roles," Corrigan said.

In terms of people who can step up, the team is taking on thirteen new players in their 2022 recruiting class. That includes five-star recruit Thomas Ricciardelli from The Taft school. The class will introduce three defensemen, one goalkeeper, five midfielders, two attacks, one faceoff player and one long-stick midfielder. Corrigan says that he doesn’t start with expectations for the freshman because it's impossible to know how they will react to their new environment and compete at a higher level. However, looking at their impressive statistics and the elite skills that they hold, it seems that the new class will make great contributions to an already strong team. 

The Irish have had a strong season of individual and collective growth. Despite the difficult start, the team proved their resilience and persevered to achieve consistent wins for the second half of their year. The team will take their time to recover and return ready to work towards another impressive run in Spring of 2023. Corrigan concluded, “We’ll sort that out in the fall.”