On Tuesday, January 25th, across both Instagram and Twitter, Notre Dame released their 2023 men’s lacrosse schedule. To no one’s surprise, as it always does, it contains a gauntlet of opponents across a twelve-game stretch from mid-February through early May. By all standards, it is one of the toughest schedules in the country as Notre Dame faces off against the Inside Lacrosse Media Poll’s Preseason #1, #2, and #3 ranked teams in Virginia (twice), Maryland, and Georgetown. The Fighting Irish start the season off ranked #5 (a little low in my opinion, but we can get into that when we do our season preview) as they look to make a deep run in this year’s NCAA tourney.
Let’s take a look at how the schedule lays out (TV/ESPN coverage will come out soon):
February 15th - Marquette (HOME)
February 19th - Cleveland State (HOME)
February 25th - Georgetown (AWAY)
March 4th - Maryland (AWAY)
March 11th - Ohio State (HOME)
March 18th - Michigan (AWAY)
March 25th - Virginia (HOME)
April 1st - Syracuse (AWAY)
April 8th - Duke (HOME)
April 22nd - North Carolina (HOME)
April 30th - Virginia (AWAY)
May 6th - North Carolina (AWAY)
Here is a more in depth look at the schedule:
We are looking at six home games and six away games. The first two matchups against Marquette and Cleveland State should allow the Irish to get their feet under them at home, giving them the opportunity to figure out some of their main rotations. Both games should be indoors in the Loftus Center as we all know what the weather in South Bend in February is like (yeah, it’s gross).
There is not a lot of time before the Irish face two of their toughest challenges in games three and four heading to Georgetown and then to Maryland. Must watch television will be those two as the Irish look to revenge two of their early season losses last year. Following that we have Ohio State at home and Michigan on the road, and while the Buckeyes have done well against the Irish the last couple of years, this will be a good opportunity to take one back. Michigan, a steadily improving squad since becoming a D1 team in the Big Ten not too long ago, will get the Irish in Ann Arbor the day after St. Patrick’s Day.
The final six games of the season will be the ACC portion of the schedule as we take on preseason #1 Virginia at home at Arlotta, then travel to the Dome to take on the Cuse and their talented freshmen. We follow that up with Duke at home, with the Blue Devils also looking to come back from not making the tourney in 2022. We then host North Carolina at Arlotta and finish the season in games eleven and twelve on the road against Virginia and then again against North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Look for the ACC (as a conference) to want to prove itself this year after only getting in one team into the tourney last year (Virginia). So you can bet that the matchups are going to be especially intense over the last six games of the season for the Irish.
My general thoughts:
We can get more into this when we do our season preview, but wish ND had scheduled maybe one or two Ivy League teams during the season. Would have been good to add two more games to the schedule to make fourteen total and it would have been a nice chance for ND to show that they are better than some of the Ivy League teams who made it into the tourney last year.
There is not a lot of room for mistakes with this schedule, and as our 8-4 finish last year showed (with six straight wins to end the season), the tourney committee, unless they change their way of thinking, is going to really value quality wins at every turn. So the Irish will have to win the games they should and also win games in their top matchups - Virginia (twice), Duke, Maryland and Georgetown. Early season victories over Maryland and Georgetown could do wonders for the Irish as we cannot count on teams like Syracuse and North Carolina to be considered tough, quality wins.
Really cannot stress enough how important those Georgetown and Maryland games are. 2-0 is amazing, 1-1 is good and 0-2 could spell trouble as we are losing the chance for those aforementioned quality victories. And that is why the Marquette and Cleveland State games will be so key to help the Irish figure out who their third attackman will be (with Jake Taylor expected to miss the first half of the season), who their third close defensemen will be (joining Fake and Conlin) and how they want to run their middie lines (always interesting to see who is running across those top three lines). In an ideal world the schedule would have seen games three through six go in this order: Michigan, Maryland, Ohio State, Georgetown.
While Duke is primed to get back into the tourney this year, it will be interesting to see what North Carolina and Syracuse do. Both have revamped rosters and will be looking to prove themselves in the ACC following down years. Can these two teams challenge and cause some havoc for the Irish?
Last and final thought:
Notre Dame has too talent and too much to prove after what happened last year, and while the schedule is daunting, I fully expect this team to play really well and with an increased intensity and internal fire to prove themselves. Come May 6th in Chapel Hill, the Irish won’t be playing their final game to see if they are in the tourney, they will be playing to solidify their spot as one of the top seeds in May and gunning for Memorial Day weekend.
Coming up next: Irish season preview