NOTRE DAME, Ind. – If you still need proof of the rapid growth of college lacrosse, look no further than Notre Dame’s 2014 schedule that has the Fighting Irish playing at least 13 games in eight different states.
Not only will the Irish rack up frequent flyer miles, they will do so while competing against some of the top programs in the nation. The slate features seven teams that qualified for last season’s NCAA tournament, including three Championship Weekend participants (Denver, Duke, Syracuse). The program is entering its inaugural Atlantic Coast Conference campaign and five of the six teams that comprise the league were in the NCAA tournament one season ago.
“Our schedule is going to be one of the most challenging in the country,” says Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan. “We’re going to have to manage our guys through a season that’s going to be a week-to-week challenge. We tried to address that in how we handled the offseason. We tried to figure out how much we were doing or how much we weren’t doing. We know that come the spring it’s going to be a mentally-taxing season in the sense of having the week-to-week competitiveness that we’re going to have.”
Notre Dame will open its slate Feb. 16 against Jacksonville University at EverBank Field, the home to the Jacksonville Jaguars. While this will be the first regular-season meeting between the two programs, it will be Notre Dame’s second trip to the stadium that hosted Super Bowl XXXIX. The Fighting Irish opened the 2011 season with a win over Duke at the venue.
The Fighting Irish will take on annual rival Penn State Feb. 22 in the home opener. Notre Dame’s first ACC contest is slated for March 1 at North Carolina. That will be the first of five league showdowns for the Irish.
A trip to the West Coast to face Denver will be next on the Notre Dame docket. The Irish and Pioneers will meet March 8 in the inaugural Pacific Coast Shootout at LeBard Stadium on the campus of Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Calif. It will be the second time Notre Dame has played in the Los Angeles area. Notre Dame defeated North Carolina during the 2005 season in Carson, Calif.
“We are thrilled to be playing in Southern California again this spring,” says Corrigan. “The Pacific Coast Shootout will be a great experience for all our guys, particularly the California kids on our roster. If the great Notre Dame/Denver games of the past few years are any indication, California lacrosse fans are in for a real treat.
“The opportunities to go to California and play at the pro stadium in Jacksonville are really cool for our program.”
Arlotta Stadium will host its first ACC matchup March 16 when Virginia pays its initial visit to South Bend. A two-game road swing commences March 25 at Ohio State. The Fighting Irish and Buckeyes have met every season since Notre Dame became a varsity program in 1981. Notre Dame will then head to the Carrier Dome for a showdown with ACC rival Syracuse on March 29.
While Notre Dame and Duke have developed one of the country’s top rivalries over the past few years, that contest now will have ACC implications. The Irish will play host to the Blue Devils on April 5.
Notre Dame will make its inaugural trip to Marquette April 8 and then the Fighting Irish will face Robert Morris for the first time ever on April 12 at Arlotta Stadium.
ACC regular-season play will conclude April 19 when Maryland travels to Arlotta Stadium. The ACC Championship is scheduled for April 25-27 at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. Since the league tournament takes place a week before the NCAA Championship pairings are announced, Notre Dame will wrap up its regular-season slate May 3 with a home showdown against Army.
The Fighting Irish posted an 11-5 record last season and earned the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Championship. Notre Dame defeated five top-10 teams and concluded the regular season with the nation’s top RPI before advancing to the NCAA quarterfinals for the fourth straight season. The Irish fell to Duke, 12-11, in the quarterfinal round.
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