With the 2011 lacrosse season nearly upon us, the Notre Dame men's lacrosse program looks to build on its momentum from last year's championship run. If you recall, Notre Dame had an unforgettable run through the post-season, handling perennial powers like Princeton, Maryland, and Cornell en route to their second final four appearance in school history, and their first title game appearance. The Irish ultimately fell 6-5 in OT to Duke.
No one thought the Irish would be in a position to even make the tournament last year, as they finished the regular season with a modest 7-6 record. They persevered and fought their way to heights never before seen in program history.
Talent was clearly not lacking on last year's team. Further proof was given last Friday when a school-record five Irish players were drafted in the Major League Lacrosse (MLL) Collegiate Draft.
In fact, the Long Island Lizards made midfielder Zach Brenneman the highest drafted player in school history with the fifth overall pick. Midfielder David Earl (13th overall) and defensemen Kevin Ridgway (18th overall) were both selected by the Hamilton Nationals. Sam Barnes (29th overall) followed Brenneman to Long Island and longstick midfielder Andrew Irving (33rd overall) headed west to the Denver Outlaws.
All five aforementioned Irish players will finish their senior seasons this year though, and have garnered preseason All-America honors from Inside Lacrosse. Barnes was the only of the bunch not to be named a 2011 captain.
Of the representation from the NCAA teams only Syracuse, with seven draftees, had more players selected in the this year's draft.
Seven might be a lucky number this season for the Irish, as they are ranked seventh in both Inside Lacrosse and Lacrosse Magazine preseason rankings. Additionally, the Irish play seven ranked opponents on their schedule, including a title game rematch against the Blue Devils in Jacksonville, FL on Sunday, February 20, 2011.
Before the season officially gets underway, though, the Irish will square off against the US National Team in an exhibition match a month before the Duke matchup. The game will be telecast live on ESPNU on Sunday, January 30 at 1:30p EST.