Fall Snapshot: Notre Dame Fighting Irish

(Photo Courtesy of Notre Dame Athletics)

Welcome to the Fall Snapshot series. Throughout the fall I will be taking an early look at all 75 DI men’s college lacrosse teams and giving a snapshot of where each is heading into the 2023 season.

Head Coach: Kevin Corrigan (35th Season, 1988-Current)

Notre Dame 2022 Record: 8-4 (5-1 ACC)

Key Departures: Wheaton Jackobioce (M), Ryan Hallenbeck (SSDM), Arden Cohen (D), Jason Reynolds (D)

Key Returners: Pat Kavanagh (A), Chris Kavanagh (A), Eric Dobson (M), Will Lynch (FO), Liam Entenmann (G)

Transfer Additions: Jack Simmons (M, Virginia), Brian Tevlin (M, Yale), Chris Fake (D, Yale), Chris Conlin (D, Holy Cross)

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish were one of the most talked about teams at season’s end in 2022, but not because it made an improvable run in the NCAA Tournament. No, the Irish were talked about because of their notable omission from the NCAA Tournament.

As the calendar turned to April, Notre Dame sat with a 2-4 record that featured wins over Detroit Mercy and Michigan, and losses to Georgetown, Maryland, Ohio State, and Virginia. However, from April 2nd through the end of the year, Notre Dame wouldn’t lose again as it rattled off six consecutive victories to end the year. That included a two victories over Duke, which in part helped keep the Blue Devils out of the NCAAs as well. Despite its omission from the big dance, Notre Dame ended the year No. 6 in the Inside Lacrosse and No. 8 in the USA Lacrosse poll. The Irish were No.7 in the final USILA Coaches Poll, which came out prior to the NCAA Tournament.

Notre Dame was a good team last season. But in the eyes of the selection committee, the Irish didn’t have a resume that warranted putting them in the big dance. In 2023, this Notre Dame teams returns plenty of talent from last season and you can bet that the boys in South Bend are on a mission to make sure they are playing deep into May this spring. And this team certainly has the talent to do so.

Burning Questions

How Effective Will The Defense Be?

If there is one thing Notre Dame lacrosse is known for, it’s defense. The Irish have consistently put out great overall defenses and individual star defensemen for years now. Last season was no different as the Irish ended the season tied with Wagner as the 10th best scoring defense in college lacrosse as they allowed 10.08 goals per game. And they did so with an injury-impacted close unit.

Five-year starter Arden Cohen started at close alongside grad transfers Jason Reynolds and Matt Douglas for the better part of the year. Carson Cochran started the first five games at close before suffering a season-ending injury. All four of those aforementioned poles are gone and over the summer Kevin Corrigan went back into the transfer portal and grabbed a pair of grad transfers in Chris Fake (Yale) and Chris Conlin (Holy Cross) to help soften the blow. Two-way midfielder Brian Tevlin also comes in from Yale and could be an impact player at defensive midfield, where the Irish do lose Ryan Hallenbeck.

There will be a lot of new faces out in front for this historically strong Irish defense. But in cage, look to be the same with Liam Entenmann (160 saves, 57%) returning. Poles Ross Burgmaster and Jose Boyer also return to add more depth to this defense overall. It’s natural to expect Notre Dame to have a good defense, but with so many new faces it is certainly worth watching just how good it will be and how soon this unit gels, especially against top-end competition.

Who Fills The Holes on Offense?

Notre Dame ended last season with the eighth-best scoring offense in college lacrosse as they averaged 14.75 goals per game. From that unit, much talent returns. The Kavanagh brothers Pat (25G/39A) and Chris (22G/11A), will be back to lead the way at attack while Eric Dobson (22G/10A) and Quinn McCahon (12G/8A) will be headlining that midfield unit once again. However, there are some holes and serious personnel for this Irish offense.

Jake Taylor (27G/2A) emerged as the third attackman las season and was a key cog of the offense down the stretch. After an ACL tear this summer he won’t ready come February and will have to comeback into the lineup around midseason. At midfield, Wheaton Jackoboice (17G/2A) and Morrison Mirer (11G) have both moved on and take 30 points with them from last season.

Finding a suitable replacement at attack, until Taylor’s return, and at midfield to further pad a unit with a strong core will be very important for this Irish offense. This squad does return attackmen Bryce Walker (6G/1A) and Griffin Westlin (3G/3A), each of whom saw starting time last season, as well as sophomore Jeffrey Ricciardelli (5G/1A). At midfield, transfers Jack Simmons (Virginia) and the aforementioned Brian Tevlinn could take on big roles and make immediate impacts come February.

Can The Man-Down Continue Defense Improve?

Notre Dame had the best man-up offense in college lacrosse last season as the Irish cashed in on 21 of its 31 (67.7%) opportunities. However, when the roles were reversed the Irish weren’t so strong. Notre Dame only came up successful on 14 of its 36 such situations. That’s good for a 58.3% success rate, which put them at 55th nationally tied with Saint Joseph’s.

The Irish especially struggled in that realm earlier in the season with their opponents going 8-for-15 (53%) on the man-up through those first six games. In Notre Dame’s final six games, it held the opposition to 7-for-21 (33%) on man-up opportunities.

With a defense with many new faces, Notre Dame will be looking to keep that trend going in the positive direction as it concerns the Irish’s man-down defense unit.

Potential Breakout Player

Jeffrey Ricciardelli, Attack, Sophomore

A highly-rated recruit in the 2021 cycle, Ricciardelli made an impact in South Bend as a freshman last season with five goals and one assist while playing mostly on man-up. With that open spot on the attack for at least the early portion of the season, he is a guy who could slide in and help that offense maintain the success it had late last season.

Freshman Class

Notre Dame brings in a 13-man freshman class with its 2022 recruiting efforts. The class is headlined by goalie Thomas Ricciardelli (Taft, Conn.). The younger brother of Jeffrey, Ricciardelli arrives in South Bend as an Under Armour All-American and ranked as the No. 4 player in the class, per Inside Lacrosse. Ricciardelli is one of three Inside Lacrosse Top-50 recruits now in South Bend and one of five players in the class who were ranked as Top-100 players by IL.

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