We are a month into the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Lacrosse season and even though there has been chaos so far, we are starting to see the cream of the crop rise to the top. One of the biggest storylines of the NCAA Tournament last year was the fact that No.6 Notre Dame was left out of the field. It’s obvious that the Fighting Irish are on a mission to leave no doubt that they are tournament worthy this year, but with the way they are playing, the Irish aren’t just tourney worthy, they are proving to be a championship contender.
The way the 2022 season ended has been on the minds of Irish fans and players all offseason, and it is definitely been their main motivation heading into this season. Fifth year senior Quinn McCahon’s tweet after missing the tournament last year sums up the team’s focus perfectly.
While all the talk has been about Virginia dominating their early season schedule, Notre Dame is quietly flying under the national lacrosse radar. The No.2 team in the nation is currently tied for the largest scoring margin in the country beating their opponents by 9.33 goals per game. They are also the second highest scoring team in the country behind Virginia, averaging 18 goals per game. They are also second in the nation with 11.33 assists per game. While most of the attention has been on the Kavanaugh brothers, they currently have three other players with 7 points this season (through three games).
While the offense has been dominant, the defense has done well enough to shut teams down. They are currently causing 10+ turnovers a game, which is 12th best in the country, and have only allowed one extra man goal so far this season. Their biggest flaw right now is at the faceoff, where they are currently winning only .489 of faceoffs, but with sophomores at the faceoff position, the Irish could see improvement in that category as the position group gets more comfortable as the season progresses. Notre Dame is not afraid to get dirty and find other ways to create chances for their offense by battling for ground balls, grabbing an average of 38.67 per game.
Their play has definitely something that their opponents have noticed early on this season. Georgetown Head Coach Kevin Warne said “That team is playing with a purpose this year…that is a Final Four, Memorial Day roster. They play hard, their lacrosse IQ is through the roof. They make so many little plays. …they are very, very, very good. …they have rallied around something that is allowing them to play at a different speed.”
While it’s still early in the season, and we have seen a lot of parity in the first month, its clear that there are two teams who are looking like championship contenders. While there is still a ton of time between now and Memorial Day, including playing No.1 Virginia twice (at the very least), Notre Dame is motivated to prove to everyone that not only were they worthy of a tournament bid last season, but that they are definitely in the conversation as the best lacrosse team in the country.