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Why Notre Dame men’s lacrosse embraces Georgetown rematch after early season loss

IMG_7504by:Jack Soble05/17/24


Notre Dame men’s lacrosse remembers Feb. 25 well.

The Irish remember playing what they suspected then and definitely know now was not their best game, as the Hoyas pushed them to overtime in South Bend. They remember the rocket from senior attackman Aidan Carroll that gave them their first and only loss so far this season. And they remember Georgetown head coach Kevin Warne being so thrilled to beat the No. 1 team in the country that he lost his bearings and fell over in disbelief.

With that 11-10 loss still fresh in their minds, the No. 1 Irish aren’t complaining about drawing the No. 8 Hoyas in the NCAA quarterfinals at noon ET on Saturday at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. Far from it.

“They’re the team we want to get back at,” freshman defenseman Shawn Lyght said Wednesday. “That’s our motivation this entire week.”

That game served as a wake-up call for Notre Dame, whose last loss came on April 30, 2023 and who hasn’t been defeated since. It was not unlike, as Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan said Sunday, Notre Dame’s first-round scare against UAlbany.

After the Irish entered the season as defending national champions (Georgetown) and steamrolled through the No. 2 team in the country in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship (UAlbany), they needed a reminder that they weren’t invincible.

Notre Dame used the Georgetown hiccup to fix their issues and start playing closer to their potential. It expects to do the same this time around.

“Our mindset is positive,” graduate student attackman Jake Taylor said. “Obviously, we learned a lot after that game the first time, and we get to learn a little bit more going into playing them again, especially coming off a little bit of a rougher game.

“But it’s definitely a positive mindset. Everybody’s really excited. The energy’s high and we’re feeling good going into it.”

The first time around, Georgetown attacked Notre Dame’s offense by pressing its top scorers and forcing them into quick decisions. The Irish did not respond well, taking the first shot instead of the best shot. It was a defensive strategy that, again, Corrigan said was similar to what UAlbany did Sunday.

Notre Dame hadn’t prepared for Georgetown’s defense at the time. It believes it’s done a better job entering Saturday’s game.

“After seeing them play all year and having played against them once, we have a few different ideas in terms of how we’re gonna execute,” Taylor said.

Defensively, Lyght said Notre Dame needed to be better at guarding the ball. Too often, a Georgetown attackman beat one-on-one defense and broke free for a scoring opportunity. That happened to junior midfielder Ben Ramsey — who otherwise had a terrific season, earning first-team All-ACC honors — on the overtime winner.

Lyght has become quite good at that since losing to the Hoyas, largely shutting down Tewaaraton Award finalists Connor Shellenberger (Virginia) and Brennan O’Neill (Duke) in the ACC Tournament. He’ll need to come up big Saturday afternoon, and he knows it.

“When we guard the ball, it’s hard to beat us,” Lyght said.

Notre Dame and Georgetown were two of the eight teams to earn a seed in the NCAA Tournament. All eight of them — Duke, Johns Hopkins, Syracuse, Denver, Virginia and Maryland, respectively, being the other six — advanced to the quarterfinal round. It’s the first time that’s happened since 2004, according to ESPN play-by-play announcer Anish Shroff.

The Irish knew they’d draw a good team Saturday. But if they had to pick one opponent, there’s a good chance they’d pick the one they got.

“Everybody’s playing well who survives to the second round,” Corrigan said after Sunday’s win over UAlbany. “But are we disappointed that we’re playing Georgetown this time? No. For a team that’s 13-1 with one loss to Georgetown, we’re excited to have a chance to rectify that.”

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