Mar 27, 2013, 8:33 AM EDT
For the second time in school history, the Irish have risen to the top of the nation with a first overall ranking in both the USILA Coaches Poll and the media poll. Coach Kevin Corrigan, now in his 25th season, has seen his program reach the pinnacle of regular season success for the second time in three seasons. Nobody is doubting Notre Dame’s resume in the early season made up of mostly non-conference play, with six wins and only a single loss in early April against Hofstra by a goal. The Irish have a perfect road record at 4-0. Five of the teams that Notre Dame has defeated are in the Top 25, including three currently in the Top 10.
The Irish received eight out of the total of eleven first place votes in the coaches poll. Notre Dame last held the number one ranking in April of 2011, a season following Notre Dame’s loss to Duke in the NCAA championship game 6-5 in overtime. This team is now battle tested enough to back up a preseason ranking of third in the nation, giving it the ability to move up to the top spot yesterday when the rankings were released. The Irish proved enough to move up in the polls after a win against Rutgers 7-6 in New Jersey on Sunday behind a hat trick from Jim Marlatt and two goals netted by Matt Kavanagh. A difficult 10-8 loss to North Carolina left the Maryland Terrapins vulnerable, and the coaches and media felt Notre Dame deserved to lead the pack and surpass the team previously ranked first for a large chunk of the season.
Notre Dame has begun its BIG EAST conference slate for the final time in its history because the program will pack its bags for the ACC next year. The ability to persevere despite facing teams hungry for an upset has allowed the Irish to keep a consistent streak of winning over the first half of the schedule. The next test will be against yet another ranked opponent as the heart of BIG EAST conference play comes to fruition. St. John’s has climbed into the Top 25 at twenty-fifth after not being ranked. The Red Storm are 6-2 and will have to travel to South Bend where they face the red-hot Irish inside Arlotta Stadium. The Irish will continue to rely on Marlatt and Kavanagh to generate offensive output. Each player has 20 points and 14 goals. Matt Miller and goalie John Kemp will lead the way for the Notre Dame defense, coming off of its best two games of the season where it has allowed four and six goals, respectively. The Notre Dame campus is fully supporting this team in its quest for a national championship, and a number one overall ranking is a major step along the way.
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