Jan 23, 2013, 11:25 AM EST
After reaching the NCAA semifinals in 2012, the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team once again has high expectations as it prepares for the 2013 season.
On Tuesday, the Fighting Irish were selected as the preseason favorite to win the BIG EAST conference. Notre Dame received five first-place votes and was chosen ahead of Syracuse (two first-place votes) and St. John’s, the squad that knocked the Irish out of last year’s BIG EAST tournament.
Led by senior goalie and 2012 Tewaaraton Award nominee John Kemp, five Irish players were chosen for the All-BIG EAST Preseason Team. Rounding out the group are junior midfielder Jim Marlatt, senior defenseman Matt Miller, senior attack Sean Rogers and junior attack Westy Hopkins.
The hopeful journey to Philadelphia (the site of this year’s Final Four) begins on Saturday in the Champion Challenge at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida. Notre Dame will face the U.S. National Team (10 am) and Jacksonville University (5 pm) in a pair of scrimmages.
The regular season kicks off on Feb. 16 at Duke, the team the Irish upset in last year’s opener.
In addition to games against the six other BIG EAST programs, the 2013 slate includes contests at Penn State and Denver, home versus North Carolina, Hofstra and Ohio State, and in Chicago against Marquette, who will be playing its inaugural season.
Four games will be featured on ESPN networks, beginning March 16 at Denver (ESPN3). ESPNU will carry the BIG EAST match-ups against Georgetown (April 14) and Villanova (April 20) at Arlotta Stadium.
Finally, ESPNU will also broadcast the Big City Classic in East Rutherford, N.J., featuring Notre Dame and Syracuse on April 27.
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