What We Learned About Notre Dame

PHOTO BY SCOTT MCCALL

Don't call Drew Schantz a d-middie. The Notre Dame short stick stuck two goals against Team USA.


Notre Dame men’s lacrosse started its preseason with five days in paradise. The Irish made the trip down to Bradenton, Fla. on Tuesday last week, met with notable alum like ESPN announcer Dick Vitale, hung out by the beach and created a leadership program.

Oh, and they got the chance to face Team USA on Sunday at IMG Academy. Notre Dame’s preseason is a week old and they won’t face a tougher opponent.

“Those guys are so good, and they’re bigger, stronger, faster and more confident than anybody you play against all year.” coach Kevin Corrigan said. “It was a terrific start and a great way to get off the mark focused and have a chance to compete against guys as smart as that team.”

In the end, Notre Dame gave Team USA a test, outscoring the hosts 7-6 in the second half en route to a 16-11 loss. It was an up-and-down game for the Irish, who gave some new faces crucial playing time on a beautiful day in Florida.

The result: Corrigan said his team has a long way to go, but he’s happy to get started. Here are five takeaways from Notre Dame’s matchup with Team USA.

1. Tale of Two Halves

It came as no surprise that Team USA took control of the game as soon as the whistle blew. Notre Dame’s young, somewhat inexperienced roster had to deal with facing the top players in the world just five days into their preseason.

Mistakes were bound to happen, and they did in the first half. The Irish had eight first-quarter turnovers and 13 in the first half, leading to Team USA jumping out to a 10-4 halftime lead.

“We are five days into preseason and I thought the first quarter and a half, we looked like it,” Corrigan said. “You’re not going to beat anybody playing like that. As it went on, we settled down and started getting good possessions and were handling the ball a little better, making better decisions all over the field. That second half was even.”

Notre Dame seemed to take a collective breath, knowing that if it could slow the offense down, more opportunities could arise. It scored four third-quarter goals to go with just four turnovers.

“In the first half, we had a lot of turnovers,” senior midfielder Sergio Perkovic said. “That’s to be expected because of people being nervous, especially the younger kids. In the second half, we did a better job of slowing down our flow and getting into sets and really having some type of possessions instead of trying to make the play right away and then turn the ball over.”

2. Drew Schantz in Transition

Among the bright spots for the Irish was sophomore midfielder Drew Schantz, who scored two transition goals in the loss. Both goals came off of clears, and Schantz’s speed was evident as sprinted up the field and into the offensive zone.

In just his second year, Schantz showed some real offensive potential. He played mostly defensive midfield last season, but Corrigan said he sees Schantz becoming a multi-faceted player capable of helping Notre Dame on both ends of the field.

“Drew was an extremely valuable guy for us all of last year and a guy that we felt like was going to continue to grow into the role [on offense],” Corrigan said. “Right now, he’s a two-way middie, but he’s a defense-first guy who can make plays in transition and on the offensive end. It’s just a sign of his growth as a player, but nothing that we didn’t expect.”

Schantz said his coach allows him to be aggressive when he feels it’s necessary. He said he’s already developing some chemistry with attackmen Ryder Garnsey and Mikey Wynne.

“Coach Corrigan told me last year, ‘You have the green light to go,’” Schantz said. “That kind of stuck in my head more and more. I have a lot more confidence going to goal than I did last year. It’s going to be a huge part of my game and, in addition to that, opening up opportunities to play off of Ryder and Mikey and all those guys down below.”







3. Law Offices of Garnsey and Wynne

It has a nice ring to it. And if Sunday was any indication, we’ll be hearing their names together often in the next few months. Both Garnsey and Wynne broke onto the scene as underclassmen last season, combining for 83 points.

Now, they’re back with a year of experience together, and it showed. The duo combined for five goals and three assists to lead the Irish attack, culminating with a Wynne low-to-high goal that was set up by Garnsey, who came from X to flick the ball to his teammate.

Corrigan was happy with what he saw out of Garnsey and Wynne, who will be looked to provide much of Notre Dame’s offense in 2017, given the graduation of initiator Matt Kavanagh.

“Those two guys are going to have to carry a load for us,” Corrigan said. “Whatever we do, those two guys will be central to it.”

The development of Notre Dame’s top two attackmen — along with Perkovic — could coincide with the progress of the team as a whole.

“They are both great players and they complement each other well,” Perkovic said. “Mikey always knows how to find space as a crease attackman and can play on the wing and behind X. Ryder is a great ball carrier and can make plays and has great vision. That combination will be great for us in this coming year.”

4. Doss Steadying Force on Defense

Notre Dame played two goalies on Sunday — Owen Molloy in the first half and Shane Doss in the second. It’s tough to attribute the Irish’s big second half to one player, but Doss’ presence in the cage certainly helped.

Doss finished with seven saves, allowing just six Team USA goals. With senior Garrett Epple still working his way back from an injury – he played Sunday but is not yet 100 percent – Doss’ responsibility to hold his ground became even more vital.

“Shane Doss came in and I thought he was very good in the goal,” Corrigan said. “There were a number of times that I looked out on the field the other day, and we had three freshmen on the field defensively, between our d-middies and our close guys. [Doss] handles himself very well at this point, and I think he can have a huge impact on a young defensive group.”

Doss held opponents to 7.67 goals per game and tallied a 56.2 save percentage last season. If he can post similar or better numbers, he should be able to lead the Notre Dame defense.

5. Early, But Good to be Back

We’re dealing with a five-day sample size, so it’s tough to draw any concrete conclusions (yet here we are five points later). Still, Corrigan and his team are happy to be back on the field — and being in 80-degree weather for a week didn’t hurt.

Notre Dame will have a few goals for this preseason, but most notably, finding its identity. With key losses from last year (Kavanagh and defenseman Matt Landis), Corrigan will have a few weeks to work new faces into the lineup.

“We’ve still got to put together the vision of what this team is going to look like,” Corrigan said. “That’s a work in progress, because we’re so young and do have a lot of guys in some new spots. Sometimes when you have an older team, you take some of that stuff for granted. That’s not the situation we’re in this year.”

With players like Perkovic, Doss, Garnsey, Wynne and Shantz, Notre Dame should be in contention for a national title again in 2017. The Irish are ranked No. 5 in the Nike/US Lacrosse Preseason Top 20.

But there’s much to do before the season rolls around.

“If we can come together, I see us improving in a steady upward climb as the season goes forward,” Schantz said. “I’m excited for what this team has, a bunch of potential. We’ve got a bunch of returners and a bunch of guys that have to step up. This preseason is huge for us to find out who we are as a team and what we want to accomplish this year.”

Editor's note An earlier version of this story described Notre Dame defenseman Garrett Epple as injured. Epple played in Sunday's game, after which Irish coach Kevin Corrigan acknowledged Epple is still working his way back from an injury.

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