NCAA men’s college lacrosse officially got underway this past weekend as teams across the country faced off in both outdoor and indoor games. The season is has started, it’s an exciting time and the Irish kick everything off next week with an evening matchup against Marquette at Notre Dame on Wednesday, February 15th at 5 PM EST.
As part of our 2023 Notre Dame lacrosse preview, feel it is necessary to look at one of the major storylines for ND this year: how the 2022 season finished for the Irish.
2022 - A truly lost season and opportunity:
For those who closely follow the Irish lacrosse program, they know we could write multiple columns on the end to the 2022 season, but instead we will try to summarize here in one read to get everyone else up to speed as we get 2023 underway:
The Irish started off the season slowly and after six games their record was 2-4, highlighted by two close losses to eventual National Champion Maryland and Ohio State and two other losses to Georgetown and UVA where one could tell that ND was just not as complete a team as they could or should be. Something needed to change and the season turned on April 2nd in their seventh game when the Irish took on Syracuse at home at Arlotta. The coaching staff made the move to bring in Jake Taylor as the third attackman to complement brothers Pat and Chris Kavanagh. All Taylor did that day was score eight goals, setting the ND single game record and start a six game winning streak that turned the season completely around. On May 7th in South Bend, in the final game of the regular season, the Irish took on Duke in what many were saying was a play in game for the NCAA tournament. The Irish won a back and forth matchup with a final score of 16-14 and for all those who watched, it reinforced that ND was one of the hottest and most complete teams in the country and one of a few teams that could challenge for a spot in the Final Four over Memorial Day weekend. The Irish had just won their last six games (most of them in dominant fashion) to finish the season at 8-4.
At the conclusion of the regular season, the Irish were ranked 4th and really we were all just waiting to see where they were going to be seeded, what their path looked like, where they would be playing and who they would be playing.
The selection show happened and it was all for naught due to an outdated tournament selection system, an over-infatuation with Ivy League teams (who beat up on each other all year) and a selection committee that is not made up of people who fully follow the lacrosse season. The Irish were not selected during the show and for the first time in fifteen years, the Irish were forced to watch the NCAA tournament from home.
It was truly tough to watch and the news was heartbreaking for the players, coaches and families of the ND lacrosse program. It was hard to believe that a team, considered to be the 4th best in the county, would not be selected as part of the 16 team field. They would not get to prove things out over the month of May and finish the season in the tournament. Furthermore, for those who follow the college game deeply, there were truly a handful of teams last year that folks considered complete enough to win it all - and those four were Maryland, UVA, Georgetown and Notre Dame. It was shameful that the Irish did not get their chance to play more games and have a chance to win their first national championship in lacrosse.
How 2022’s finish will influence 2023:
As part of their 2023 preview last week, Inside Lacrosse had Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan on their show and he talked about how the season ended and what that means for this year. And in true Coach Corrigan fashion, he did not want to focus on the previous year, but rather look ahead to this year. He said that really the worst part of everything was how things ended for the Notre Dame seniors who played their last game in an Irish uniform. As a program they always talk about having their last game as a Notre Dame player being a win, they just never thought that that win would be in the regular season and not on Memorial Day. You could tell how hurt Coach Corrigan truly was for players like Arden Cohen, Mo Mirer, Ryan Hallenbeck, Wheaton Jackoboice, David Lipka and Jason Reynolds who had all played their last games for the Fighting Irish.
And while Coach Corrigan did not want to talk about how much last season’s finish is the fuel to the mindset of this year’s team, here is now fifth year senior Quinn McCahon’s tweet from May 9th after finding out the Irish did not make the tournament:
“Life can be challenging at times. It does not always go the way you think it will. The way that everyone on our @NDlacrosse team handled themselves this season, the passion, the grit, the emotion… it all makes your experience as a college lacrosse player so special”
“The unfortunate result of not having the opportunity to compete in the tournament is truly heartbreaking. It is out of our control, but I can say with complete confidence, we will back back next season with the same passion, grit, and emotion that fueled us all season.”
“It’s a vengeance tour next year for @NDlacrosse We will be back even better than before. That all stems from the people in the locker room and the relationships we made. It’s going to be a scary sight and I can’t wait to be apart of it.”
On a personal note, my junior year in high school, we were the favorite to win the state lacrosse championship, but in the state semifinals we lost to a team that we had beaten twice in the regular season (both times by ten goals). It was devastating, but that loss created a mindset for those of us who were still a part of the team, especially those of us who were going to be seniors. We did not want to experience that feeling again as we headed into in our last year of high school lacrosse, and the next year we came back with a vengeance and beat our rival in the state championship to end our season as champions and finish our last game, as a team, with a dominant win.
Whether folks want to look at this way or not, the 2023 Notre Dame men’s lacrosse season is going to be a revenge / vengeance tour. Nothing more needs to be said and it is just about time to get things underway.
Next up: Our 2023 preview continues as we look at the coaches and players on the 2023 Irish team.