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Alphabetical 2014 NCAA D1 Preview: Notre Dame

The NCAA D1 season is now underway! During the first couple of weeks of lacrosse season we’ll be finishing up the Alphabetical 2014 NCAA D1 Previews! Like last year, we are going through all of the D1 men’s teams for 2014 (there are 67 this year!) and we are now moving on to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, located in South Bend, IN.

ND/Cuse Game Photos by Tommy Gilligan

Photo Credit: Tommy Gilligan

Notre Dame put together another solid season in 2013, and was so close to making it back to the title game, losing to eventual champ Duke, 12-11. Close games were a theme for the Irish last year, and nine of their 16 games were decided by 2 goals or less. In those games ND went 6-3. Notre Dame got early wins over Penn State (OT), UNC (3 OT), Denver (OT), and Ohio State. Losses to Hofstra and St. John’s showed the crowd that the Irish were beatable. With a move to the ACC this year, and another slate of challenging games, can the Irish finally take home the hardware?

Matt Kavanaugh will need to take charge a bit more this year as the Irish lost Sean Rogers, Tyler Kimball, Steve Murphy, and Ryan Foley from last year’s team. Connor Doyle, Jim Marlatt, John Scioscia, Westy Hopkins, Will Corrigan, and Nick Osello all have plenty of skill and experience, and the trend of Notre Dame putting up more goals than expected could continue. Last year they had some down games, but you could see sparks of offensive fire brewing at times. Hopefully it really comes out in full force this year.

I’m interested to see what role Tyler Brenneman will play for the Irish this year. He could fit in a couple different places. Logan Connolly interests me at attack. I like Pat Cotter to step back in and be a difference maker. Will Bobby Gray or Quinn Cully continue to evolve into the players that Notre Dame hopes? There are lots of guys like this on the Irish roster, and many could make the jump to prime time performer. Liam O’Connor and Osello should continue to do well facing off.

The big question mark for Notre Dame is on the other end of the field, in goal. John Kemp is gone, and last year’s back up, Conor Kelly, only saw 12 minutes of action all year. There are two other goalies on the roster, a freshman and senior. Whoever ends up in net, they’ll need a solid defense in front of them.

Stephen O’Hara returns as a starter on defense, as does Brian Bugliione. Matt Landis adds a good deal of experience and size to the unit and can play close or LSM. Chris Prevoznik is another guy who could see more time in 2014 and provide solid base for the Irish D. Michael Shepardson and Ryan Smith are back with the team, and if guys like them can evolve, and guys like Henry Williams have improved, ND could be pretty stacked defensively, even with an untested goalie.

This is a good Notre Dame team, and I think they will see some success no matter what approach they take. If they go conservative, I don’t see this team making a real run at the title, but I do see them being competitive throughout the Spring. If Notre Dame takes some risks, and tries to pour in goals, I think they become a total wild card, capable of winning it all if they’re clicking in May. There is a good collection of players in South Bend, and a smart coaching staff. Expect them to be there no matter what I say.

For more NCAA D1 Lacrosse coverage, check out Alphabetical 2013 NCAA D1 Preview: Air ForceAlbanyArmyBellarmineBinghamtonBostonBrownBryantBucknellCanisius,
Colgate,  CornellDartmouthDelawareDetroitDrexelDukeFairfieldFurman,
GeorgetownHartfordHarvardHigh PointHobartHofstraHoly CrossJacksonvilleJohns_HopkinsLafayetteLehighLoyolaManhattanMaristMarquette,
MarylandMassachusettsMercerMichiganMonmouth, Navy, and North Carolina.