On Tuesday, January 23rd, Notre Dame released their 2024 men’s lacrosse schedule. The defending national champions will get things underway with a midweek matchup on Valentine’s Day against Cleveland State on Wednesday, February 14th. And barring some unforeseen heat wave that is set to hit South Bend, the first game of the season will be in the Loftus Center as the Irish set out to make another trip back to Philadelphia over Memorial Day weekend.
We have already covered off on the early season scrimmage against Air Force and before the game against the Vikings on the 14th, the Irish will host Utah for a scrimmage on Saturday the 27th and then meet Detroit on Sunday the 4th for our final warmup.
With regards to this year’s schedule, it is once again one of the more difficult ones in the country as the Irish will play six home games and five road games for a total of eleven overall matchups. The ACC tournament is back on this year and as long as you finish in the top four within the ACC regular season scheduling, you will book a trip to Charlotte over May 3rd - 5th. The Irish expect to finish within that top four so that would then add on game twelve and then possibly game thirteen to the overall schedule. To note, there is no automatic bid into the NCAA tournament for the winning team of the ACC tournament as you need to have a minimum of six teams within your conference for that to happen.
The schedule is a who’s who of college lacrosse and if you take a look at the Inside Lacrosse preseason media poll, the Irish will have matchups against the #2, #3, #6, #7, #9, #11, #12 and #17 ranked teams. That’s eight matchups against teams that are ranked in the preseason Top 20.
Let’s take a look at how the schedule lays out (TV/ESPN coverage will come out soon):
February 14th - Cleveland State (HOME)
February 18th - Marquette (AWAY)
February 25th - Georgetown (HOME)
March 3rd - Maryland (HOME)
March 9th - Ohio State (AWAY)
March 16th - Michigan (HOME)
March 30th - Syracuse (HOME)
April 7th - Duke (AWAY)
April 14th - Cornell (AWAY - possible neutral site matchup)
April 20th - North Carolina (HOME)
April 27th - Virginia (AWAY)
May 3rd - 5th - ACC Tournament (Charlotte, NC)
Here is a more in depth look at the schedule:
From a strategic standpoint, similar to years past, the Irish are playing just about once a week with the exception of the first two games and then the two week break in between Michigan and Syracuse (have to imagine this coincides with Notre Dame’s spring break). The turnaround from the Cleveland State to the Marquette game will be quick with three days rest in between, but not the worst thing to get that first game under our belts and then turn around and get that second game going. Get the legs moving and then keep them moving early in the season (and thinking it will be a bus ride to Milwaukee for that game).
The home matchups are front loaded with the Irish playing five of their six home games by March 30th, so there will be only one chance to see the boys play in South Bend across the month of April. And if last year’s weather is replicated, hopefully by the February 25th matchup against Georgetown we will be outside in Arlotta, but as we all know, we can never count on the weather in South Bend and what might be coming in February.
From a “how the schedule lays out” standpoint, I think it has a really good mix and flow to it. We should see two indoor matchups against Cleveland State and Marquette and then follow that up with two tough home matchups against Georgetown and Maryland. The Terps and Hoyas will have revenge on their minds as both of these teams fell to Notre Dame early in the 2023 season. And I am not discounting anything that the Vikings and Golden Eagles bring to the table, but those first two matchups of the season should give us the chance to get the groupings fully set and also see how some of our younger / newer players perform in real game situations.
Following Georgetown and Maryland we have Ohio State and Michigan who will both be looking to make statements against the Irish. Michigan was close to making the Final Four last year while Ohio State had a tough season, but they have brought in a lot of transfers to see if they can right the ship. It’s a crowded Big Ten, but both these teams are looking to get in the NCAA tournament field come May. Side note: it will be neat to see ND play in Ohio State’s new lacrosse stadium as it looks really cool. And anything is better than playing in that cavernous football stadium.
After Michigan we start our ACC matchups with Syracuse coming to town and then Duke on the road. This is the first time in a while that I can remember that the Irish only place each ACC team once, as usually there is at least one home and home mixed in. The Cuse are an upstart team with lots of folks picking them as a team that can contend for Memorial Day weekend. They bring in probably the top transfer class and have young talent all throughout their squad (namely Joey Spallina). Don’t be shocked in they come into this game at Arlotta with a really good ranking and record. Duke, not much needs to be said about the preseason #2 ranked team. They have talent everywhere and with this being Brennan O’Neill’s final season, he will be doing everything he can to get a ring for himself and his teammates.
The regular season closes with a mid April matchup against Cornell and great to see the Ivy League back on the Irish’s schedule. We did not play any Ivies last year and Cornell will be a formidable foe coming in at preseason #7 (and CJ Kirst is one of the best players in the country). Finally we finish up with North Carolina at home and then a road matchup at Virginia. If years past have told us anything, that Tar Heel tilt will be chippy and physical, it will be a must watch game. When it comes to Virginia, they are literally the ONLY team that has beaten Notre Dame in our last twenty three games. Notre Dame is 20-3 since the midpoint of 2022 with all three losses coming to the Cavaliers. That is it. Don’t think that Virginia (and star player Connor Shellenberger) has what happened in OT on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend ingrained in their minds.
Lastly, the ACC Tournament will take place in Charlotte over that first weekend in May with the top four ACC teams making it. If you asked me who we will see in North Carolina that weekend, I would put my money on Notre Dame, Duke, Virginia and Syracuse.
My general thoughts:
As I laid out earlier, this schedule flows very well for the Irish and it is one that will have a high RPI at the end of the year, while also allowing our Irish to prove themselves every single week. We are now the hunted, every single team that we play this year will be looking to dethrone the defending national champions. Ten teams (out of eleven teams) on our schedule this year will be looking to avenge a loss to the Irish from last year. We cannot take any matchup for granted, we know what it feels like to be staring at a tough road as we look to secure our spot over Memorial Day weekend.
Last and final thought:
We have covered off on this throughout our preseason articles, but this Irish team is loaded at every position, and while there are still some things to figure out and some final rotations to be set, Notre Dame has the talent to win each and every game this year. With that, the opportunity is there to get one of the top seeds in the NCAA tournament to then defend our 2023 national championship.
Last year was last year. This is 2024 and making sure this team is focused and that they have a new determination is on the coaching staff and on the captains of our squad. There is too much senior leadership on this team and I fully expect this 2024 team to be ready and to come out with the same hunter mentality we have had in years past.
It’s going to be an exciting year and looking forward to Irish fans coming out and supporting the boys. This is a Memorial Day weekend team and my call to action to the Notre Dame fanbase is BE THERE IN PERSON. Make your presence felt and watch our Irish prove things out on the field.
Let’s Go Irish!