Get your sticks strung, work in your gloves and hit the wall Notre Dame lacrosse fanatics, we have hit 2024 and the start of the new season is almost upon us.
For those of you who are not familiar with me, Drew Brennan here, class of 2000 graduate from Notre Dame and a huge, die-hard ND lacrosse fan for over twenty-four years. I was lucky enough to cover the team last year for One Foot Down and things could not have gone better with the Irish’s victory over Duke on Memorial Day. It had been a long time coming, but nothing sweeter than finally winning our first ever national championship, and doing it in front of fans, family members and alumni who gathered in Philadelphia, PA over the holiday weekend.
My goal this spring will be similar to last year in that I will keep you all as updated as possible around Notre Dame lacrosse, the storylines, the game outcomes, the news, the players, the coaches, etc. I am also going to follow that up with podcast episodes throughout the season as I am the host of the Exit 77 podcast. I normally cover ND football, but did a couple of episodes last year on the lacrosse team (here is one of my episodes) and have a plan to make it more of a regular occurrence this year. Be on the lookout for my preseason podcast on the team which I will look to get up the week of January 8th. Additionally, I will try to see as many games in person as I can, but in general I will be watching most of the games on TV and delayed (you know, my kids and their sports / activities will be my first priority).
Latest News on the Irish:
Earlier this week, USA Lacrosse Magazine came out with their preseason top 20 with the Irish coming in at #1. As we laid out in our article from November 17th, the Irish are the hunted this year and there will be no shortage of teams looking to knock the Irish off the thrown. Every single game will be a beast of a contest as every team across the country will be gunning to take down Notre Dame and make our reign a short one.
Chris Conlin is back for another season:
In some surprising, but really welcome news, Chris Conlin will be coming back to man the close defense for our Irish this year. Having Conlin at longpole is a huge addition to the team as he was one of our three starting defensemen last year and gives the Irish two returning starters at that position this year (Marco Napolitano being the other with Chris Fake moving on since graduation). I am not entirely sure what happened here as I thought Conlin had exhausted his eligibility, but really awesome news as this only helps to solidify the backend for ND and gives Coach Ryan Wellner a starter and a veteran with which to build his defensive rotation around. Who will be that third close defenseman is still to be determined as far as we know, but there is no shortage of talent (new faces and old ones) and we can imagine Coach Wellner has a good decision on his hands. I think one of the big questions will be if Ross Burgmaster gets that spot or if the staff values him too much at LSM to go along with Will Donovan.
.@NDlacrosse gets a boost on the defensive end as Chris Conlin will return to the ☘️ this season.— Matt Chandik (@MChandik26) January 3, 2024
Conlin, a @LeadingEdgeLax product by way of Chatham (N.J) has started every game in his collegiate career at Holy Cross and ND. Had 16 CT and 34 GB in ND’s run to a national title. pic.twitter.com/KXpXRRQPLG
What the schedule looks like:
The schedule is starting to trickle out as other teams have been releasing their slate of games, but we are still awaiting the verified, final schedule for our Irish. We do know that we will be starting the season off with three scrimmages across the following dates:
Air Force at Notre Dame on Sunday, January 21st
Utah at Notre Dame on Saturday, January 27th
Detroit at Notre Dame on Sunday, February 4th
If these scrimmages are anything like what we have seen in the past, lots of players and lots of different groupings will see the field as the coaching staff looks to lock in their top groups for the year. Additionally, it is a chance for younger players to show what they can do against competition that is not their own. The Irish know what they have in a lot of players, this will be an opportunity to see if others can step up and are ready to make a name for themselves.
Three football players join the squad:
Missing in the fall for practices were Sam Assaf and Jordan Faison as they were a part of the Notre Dame football team. Sam brings leadership and will be a part of the dijonnaise team to help get the team ready for our opponents. Jordan comes in as a top 40 national recruit and all he did this year was win the Sun Bowl MVP and establish himself as one of the best WRs on our team. He will certainly challenge for time at the midfield although it will probably take him a few weeks to get back up to lacrosse speed. And finally, Tyler Buchner joins the team as a midfielder after a semester at Alabama where he was their backup QB. Intriguing is the word as here as no one quite knows what to expect here from Tyler, but I don’t think any of us would be surprised if he gets playing time this spring at the midfield position.
Final Thoughts and Notes:
We will get more into individual players / analysis as we get our preseason articles and podcasts up and running.
And here is what I wrote in my November article on ND lacrosse:
I have been following Notre Dame lacrosse for a really long time and it is always exciting to get the season underway. The anticipation for last year, coming off what happened at the end of 2022, was absolutely huge. This year, however, things might be off the charts with the Irish coming back as the defending national champions. The team is stacked and never before has there been so many prominent players that fans of lacrosse across the country know and are familiar with: Liam Entenmann, Pat Kavanagh, Chris Kavanagh and Eric Dobson just to name a few. Add in the Jordan Faison and Tyler Buchner football factor and the hype / buzz could get even higher if that is even possible.
The buzz and the hype is there folks. You can feel it, it is palpable. This year is different as we are finally starting the season as the defending national champions. And with this being said, this season might be the hardest coaching job in Coach Kevin Corrigan’s career. Never before has the pressure on his squad been greater and never before has he started the year with the bullseye on his back. And that, like we just said, is D-I-F-F-E-R-E-N-T.
But if there is one thing we have learned over the years about our Irish lacrosse team, they will be ready to go and this team will be prepared when the whistle blows and the faceoff gets things underway.
I am excited and if you have read this far, I know you are too. Warm up the bagpipes everyone, we are getting even closer. Let’s Go Irish!