If the first two weekends of men’s college lacrosse have taught us anything, it is that this 2023 season is going to be unpredictable and it may be one of the more wide open ones in a long time. We have already seen close games, upsets, surprising wins and Maryland, Georgetown and Duke all have a loss. By the way, note to the NCAA tournament selection committee: this season is going to be a good reminder that the tournament field needs to be expanded to at least 24 teams. There is too much talent at too many schools across the country to still be confined to a 16 team tournament. But that is a discussion for another day and now it’s time to preview our 2023 Fighting Irish (ranked #3 in the Inside Lacrosse Media poll) coaches and the players who will be taking the field this week on Wednesday as we get the season underway against Marquette.
Notre Dame Coaching Staff
The Irish are led by Coach Kevin Corrigan who is entering his 35th season as head coach. He is the longest tenured D-1 lacrosse head coach and he has built the Irish into what they are today. Could this be the year the Irish give Coach his first ever National Championship?
There are three assistant coaches on the Irish team with the defense led by Coach Ryan Wellner and the offense led by Coach Chris Wojcik and volunteer assistant Ryder Garnsey. It’s an impressive assistant coaching staff as across the three of them they bring years of experience spanning the head coaching ranks, the assistant ranks, running recruiting operations and PLL experience.
Notre Dame Attack
The name Kavanagh has become synonymous with Notre Dame lacrosse and 2023 is no different as the Irish attack unit will be led by brothers Pat and Chris Kavanagh. The brothers who hail from Rockville Center, NY are the younger brothers of Matt Kavanagh, one of the best players to ever come through the Notre Dame lacrosse program. It’s an exciting time as Pat will anchor the unit and was just included on the Tewaaraton watch list, college lacrosse’s version of the Heisman trophy. Pat burst onto the scene as a freshman, exploded as a sophomore and then came into his own as one of the best, most complete players in all of college lacrosse last year. Known for his quickness and his incredible ability to get ground balls, he will be the focal point of the offense and should get our opponent’s best defender each and every game. Chris, a sophomore this year, had an even better all around freshman season than his brother and is poised for a similar jump that his brother experienced as a second year starter. He has put on a lot of good weight, and from all reports he really came into his own during fall ball as Pat was out for a lot of the first semester with an injury. Being the focus of the Irish offense across those early season battles helped round out his overall game and we should all expect a lot from Chris this season, especially as defenses will have to pick their poison on the Kavanagh brothers.
As for the third attack spot, it will be interesting to see where the Irish go as Jake Taylor, who was a revelation last year in the last six games of the season, will miss the early part of the year as he is coming back from a knee injury. Having him ready to go would have provided one of the best attacks in all of college lacrosse, but with him out, we will see who lines up against Marquette in his spot before he comes back later this year. Names to keep an eye on will be Jeffery Ricciardelli, a heralded attackman who got a lot of run last year as a freshman and who was also big on the man up unit. Fulton Bayman is a senior from Atlanta who has not gotten much play over the years. Is it his time to shine? Emmett Barger is a quick and shifty senior attackman who has performed well in preseason games, but has not really broken through in the regular season. Will Griffin Westlin be the third attackman? He has had a good career at Notre Dame, but when the offense needed a spark last year Taylor came in for him. Westlin could also be primed to see more time at midfield with his overall game and experience. Bryce Walker is a junior who has gotten a lot of good run in the past, but the Irish have tended toward bringing him out of the box as the offense gets settled, so he plays a little more of that hybrid attack/midfield role as he tends to dodge with the ball from up top or the wings. Lastly, will a freshman burst onto the scene and take control? We will find out soon enough.
No matter what, it will be key for the Irish to get continuity in place with their third attackman as Georgetown and Maryland are waiting in the wings after the first two matchups.
Notre Dame Midfield
I am a firm believer that solid college lacrosse teams should be able to run at least three lines of offensive middies out onto the field, but as lacrosse has become more specialized, teams have been able to get away with two lines of offensive middies out there. It can come back to bite you as this was evident in the matchup against the Terps in the tournament in 2021 as the Irish ran out of gas toward the end of that game. This year, the Irish have solid depth across their offensive middies so a lot of how things run will be more from the standpoint of what is the best combination of players together. Here is how I would imagine we will see the middie lines shaping up:
Top six offensive middies (making assumptions here as I have not been at practice and not a lot of reports have come out): Eric Dobson, Brian Tevlin, Quinn McCahon, Will Angrick, Reilly Gray and Jack Simmons.
Some notes on this group: Dobson has an outside rocket both righty and lefty, he is a newer version of Sergio Perkovic. Tevlin is a grad transfer from Yale who brings experience, confidence and was elected a captain. He was a HUGE addition to the team this offseason and we could probably write a whole article on what his presence means to this years team (here is a good write up on what Tevlin brings from Inside Lacrosse). McCahon is one of the better two way middies in all of college lacrosse. Simmons is a grad transfer from UVA and will bring really good depth to the table. Angrick and Gray bring a lot of size and dodging ability from up top to round out the top six.
Others that will be vying for time this year could come across any of the following: Westlin (as mentioned earlier), Fisher Finley, Kevin Lynch, Michael Lynch, Ben Ramsey, Jalen Seymour (could be a sleeper), Michael Ridgway and Logan Gutzwiller. And of course any of the freshman that have impressed the coaching staff.
Once again, there are a lot of middies on the Irish and until we actually see the team play we will not know what the rotations will look like, but would love to have three lines that the Irish can confidently run out.
Notre Dame Faceoff
Will Lynch will be the #1 faceoff specialist for the Irish, but he can do more than just faceoff and he can stay on the field whether the draw is won or lost. He will challenge this year to be one of the best faceoff players in the whole country. Colin Hagstrom, freshman Christian Gallaher and Pat Eilers will be vying for time to give Lynch a break.
Notre Dame Defensive Middies
Nick Harris and Carter Parlette will be leading this group, but not sure who else will be helping on this front as the Irish probably need one more player that they can rely on here. Love Harris’ speed, he is one of the faster players in college lacrosse and sometimes it is best to just give him the ball and watch him clear it on his own (#HumanClear).
Notre Dame Long Stick Middies (LSM)
Listed on the roster as our LSMs are Jose Boyer, Will Donovan and Ronan Doherty. It is always interesting to see this position with the Irish as Notre Dame has been known to have some of the best LSMs in the country, most recently Jack Kielty and John Sexton. Boyer is going to be the rock of this unit, Doherty played in five games last year as a freshman and Donovan is a heralded freshman. Does one of the close defenders move up to LSM? Does a middie play with a longpole? We will find out soon enough.
Notre Dame Close Defense and Goalie
Let’s start with Goalie as the Irish return pre-season first team All-American, Liam Entenmann. He is the best goalie in the country, hands down, and similar to Pat Kavanagh he is on the Tewaaraton watch list. Enough said. Backing up Liam is anyone’s guess, but the Irish have the #1 incoming freshman goalie in Thomas Ricciardelli (brother of attackman Jeffery) ready to go.
At Close Defense, the Irish will be relying on two grad transfers in Chris Fake (Yale) and Chris Conlin (Holy Cross). The Irish have done an amazing job in the transfer portal and this past summer was no different as the Irish picked up two of the better defenders available. Fake and Conlin both come to the Irish with a ton of experience and starts under their belt. Fake has multiple All-American recognitions and Conlin is one of the better defenders in the country when it comes to causing turnovers. They will anchor the unit and then the last piece of the puzzle will be who Coach Wellner puts in that third spot. From the Detroit Mercy scrimmage, Ross Burgmaster held down the last spot and it will be exciting to see what Ross can do this year. He has been a solid contributor at LSM over the last two seasons and will be moving back down to his normal position as he played close defense in high school.
Once again, not a lot has come out during pre-season so will be interesting to see if there are others that come to the forefront as we get the season underway. Names to keep an eye on will be Maximus Schalit, Marco Napolitano, Conrad Delgado, and of course any of the freshmen.
Some final notes on the team
Here is a great video piece on senior and captain Max Manyak who has created Pedriatic Pep Talk which helps kids with cancer get connected to varsity teams at Notre Dame (and other schools) to lift their spirits.
AWESOME job, truly going above and beyond.
The Fighting Irish get the season underway this week on Wednesday the 15th at 5 PM EST (more than likely indoors in the Loftus Center). Let’s go, time to be great!! Go Irish!!