Each week, The Baltimore Sun publishes a Q&A with a college lacrosse player or coach to get you more acquainted with the player and his/her team. Today's guest is Notre Dame junior midfielder Jim Marlatt, a Clarksville native and River Hill graduate who leads the team's midfielders in goals with 18 and assists with 10.
The Fighting Irish (11-4), who are the second seed in the NCAA tournament, will meet seventh-seeded Duke (13-5) in a quarterfinal Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Notre Dame is seeking its third trip to the national semifinals in the past four years.
Analysts are suggesting that for the Fighting Irish to win on Sunday, the midfield must produce. Does that put a lot of pressure on you?
I wouldn't say it's pressure. I don't think we focus too much about what other people are saying. We know the team that we have and what we have to do to be successful. We don't need anyone on our midfield to score five goals in order to win the game. We have players that have that ability. We'd obviously love for that to happen, but we just need to play really smart lacrosse, which, to be honest, we haven't been doing recently. There's a lot of talk about shooting percentages and things like that, but I really just think it's about us playing smarter, more disciplined lacrosse, which we haven't done the past three weeks. We've struggled against Syracuse and then had to make a big comeback last week. So I don't think any of us need to shoot harder or anything like that. It's just [about] playing smarter, taking better shots, being more disciplined. If we can have long, sustained possessions with the kind of lacrosse IQ that we all have, we're a tough team to defend.
Was rallying from a 7-3 deficit in the fourth quarter of an eventual 9-7 win against Detroit in last week's first-round game a wake-up call?
Yes and no. I think the second loss to Syracuse [in the semifinals of the Big East tournament on May 2] was a wake-up call and how we've played recently is a wake-up call. We all know that we need to continue to improve and play better. I think it was scary. When you're down 7-3 in the third quarter, you start having those thoughts of, 'Is this the last time I'm going to play with these seniors? Am I going to be home next week?' Once we were able to win, we all talked about it and just said, 'This team is not done yet.' That would have been really sad because we know we have a lot more lacrosse in us, and we weren't going to go down without a fight. That's why we went to a 10-man ride and got aggressive. It was scary, to be honest.
Because of the team's struggles against Detroit, Duke is considered the favorite for Sunday's game. Does that bother you?
I definitely think it's a little interesting. We beat them, 13-5, in the beginning of the year, and we are the No. 2 seed. But it certainly feels like we are the underdog. I don't think anyone would disagree with that statement, and I think it's justified. I don't think any of us would say that we're playing our best lacrosse right now. I think we know that we can play great lacrosse, and we know that we can beat them. We've done it before and hopefully, we'll do it again. Like I said, we're not too interested in what other people think, but at the same time, I think we understand where that is coming from.
In 2012, you finished with 31 points on 19 goals and 12 assists, and that is three more points than you have this season. How would you describe your season?
My season's been up and down — kind of like the team's has. Last season, I really just put points up. That was my only responsibility. I came onto the field as the third midfielder. I was the initiator on offense. I dodged hard and I was able to be on the receiving end of some offense. I was able to have a pleasantly good season. This year, I've been asked to do a lot more. I play more defense and I've taken the wings on faceoffs. So in that aspect of the game, I'm kind of proud of how my game has expanded with ground balls and defense. That being said, on the offensive end, I've definitely been disappointed. My shooting percentage is down, and I'm not capitalizing on all of the looks that I could.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun