Detroit should continue to improve in its fifth year as a program, but, uh, Notre Dame is really good at the lacrosse. THey’ll be a tough opponent in the Catholic Lacrosse Showcase.
11:30 a.m. CST Oct. 6, 2012
Franciscan Hale High School, Chicago
13-3 (6-0 Big East). #8 Laxpower, #6 Tempo-Free.
Raw numbers from last year and the strength-of-schedule adjusted numbers come from the Tempo-Free database.
|Notre Dame 2012|
|Faceoff Wins||148||Faceoff Wins||148|
|Offensive Efficiency||.283||Offensive Efficiency||.211|
It should come as no surprise to people who follow college lacrosse: the Irish boasted the best defense in the country last year. On the other side of the ball, however, they were actually below-average. That’s not simply a product of playing slowly (which they very much did), but also because they weren’t finishing many opportunities.
They weren’t great in the possession game – after losing Detroit Catholic Central alum Jake Marmul on faceoffs from the 2011 team, they were just 50% on draws in 2012 – but they were above average.
With the defense they had, simply being “good enough” will win them all but the toughest games. Their three losses in 2012 were low-scoring, low-possession games, even though two of their three losses (St. John’s and Penn State) weren’t particularly good teams. Not bad, but not that good. Their style of play, while it will win a lot of games, can clearly be a liability at times.
The full profile, via TempoFreeLax.com:
Though the Notre Dame offense was mediocre or worse last year, there is a lot of room for upside. Their five leading scorers a season ago were attack Sean Rogers (now a senior), midfielder Jim Marlatt (now a junior), attack Westy Hopkins (now a junior), attack Conor Doyle (now a sophomore), and midfielder Ryan Foley (now a senior). It takes until you get to No. 6 – midfielder Max Pfeifer – that a player from last year’s leading scorers doesn’t return.
Based on the statistics from last year, the midfield was heavily feed-oriented, and the attack was made up of a ruthless bunch of finishers. The likely replacement for Pfeifer in the starting lineup, 6-3, 205-pound senior Pat Cotter, seems to be more of a shooting type, which could, if anything, help balance the scoring between the two positions a bit more.
Of course, with the offense’s mediocrity last year, it’s likely that the scheme isn’t quite the same. That’s especially true given that the Irish have a new offensive coordinator in Matt Karweck, who held the same position at UDM two years ago, prior to the one-year Bill Tully disaster. Was Karweck that good for UDM, or was Tully that bad? If it’s the former, Notre Dame could be fielding an elite offense this year to go along with their standard suffocating defense.
Half of the starting defensive unit returns. Senior Matt Miller led the team in caused turnovers last year with 18, a pretty impressive number in the Irish’s slow-paced, zone-heavy scheme. Junior Stephen O’Hara also returns.
The losses are Kevin Randall and LSM Bobby Smith, who also drew into the starting lineup at close defense when Randall sat out a game. Senior LSM Kevin Andersen got pretty good run last year, and should step into that role, with significant playing time for freshman Matt Landis (IL‘s No. 18 incoming defenseman).
None of the other returning defenseman had more than very limited duty in blowouts last year, so either a junior (all three are juniors) will have to step up, or there’s an opportunity for other freshmen from the Irish’s impressive recruiting class. Edwin Glazener is the most touted of those, ranked in the top 39 incomers at the position.
In goal, it was the John Kemp show last year, and expect to see more of the same in his senior campaign. Kemp was one of the nation’s best last year, with far and away the best save percentage in Division-1 at .637. Part of that is attributable to defense and scheme, but he did a lot of it himself, too. Though the D in front of him might take a small step back, it shouldn’t hurt Kemp too much. Neither of his backups this season have played yet.
As mentioned above, the faceoff game was uncharacteristically unimpressive for the Fighting Irish last year. Liam O’Connor took a step back in his sophomore year, and finished just below .500 (as demonstrated in the past, all but the biggest changes in FO percentage for an individual can be chalked up to chance). Freshman Nick Ossello came on during the course of the year though, and performed very well. Now that he’s a sophomore, expect about a 50/50 split.
Notre Dame’s clear was very good last year – no surprise, given the amount of skill the Irish have recruited in reent years – and the ride was very poor – again, no surprise, since their defensive style isn’t predicated on forcing turnovers. Expect more of the same this year. With an inexperienced defense, there’s a chance they either step up the ride (protect the young D) or even scale it back (let them concentrate on their No. 1 job in the half-field).
The penalties between Notre Dame and opponents were dead even last year. though the Irish didn’t do a great job capitalizing on opportunities, opponents did even worse, hardly scoring at all. That’s no surprise given Notre Dame’s defensive quality and zone scheme (which allows them to make only minor changes going into the man-down, instead of switching from a base man).
Notre Dame is really, really good. I think the defense should take only a small step back (if at all) while the offense leaps forward. That’s a scary proposition for the rest of the Big East in what should be one of its final couple years of existence as a power conference.
This contest is not about trying to win for UDM – just like it won’t be for the Irish, who are bound to run sub-heavy – and it’s more about working skills against top competition, getting some depth in, and simply getting the chance to practice against the best, in hopes that it makes the MAAC slate easier by comparison.
As mentioned above, both teams will treat this scrimmage as little more than that. Still, I’m willing to wager that there are more than a couple Notre Dame backups who could see a whole lot of playing time for UDM, and this one could get ugly. Just keep telling yourself “they’re here to play better, not to win.” That’s most important because win they won’t. Notre Dame takes this one, 13-4.