Notre Dame has made two Final Fours in the last three years, including reaching the national title game where they fell to Duke in overtime in 2010. Last season, the program lost to eventual NCAA champion Loyola in the national semifinals.
Those trips were nice, but coach Kevin Corrigan said he doesn't want his players banking on the past.
"I want them to be completely present in the now, and that means for each of them, they need to bring their experiences and everything they've done until now to the present time," he said. "I don't want them worrying about what happened last year and bringing baggage from a team that no longer exists. That team played its last game in May of last year and will never be heard from again. To me, it's counterproductive to be focused on anything like that and even looking at it as a motivational thing. We know what our goal is. Our goal is to win the national championship."
Over the last five years, the Fighting Irish have a combined record of 63-17 and have emerged as a contender for the national title, joining perennial powerhouses Johns Hopkins, Virginia and Duke in the annual conversation. Being a part of that discussion is an honor, but Corrigan said the team needs to turn potential into reality.
"We've got a team that can compete for the national championship. I think that's the bar," he said. "When you're in the tournament, things have to go your way. One player, one play, one save, one shot can make all the difference in the world. So I'm not going to sit here and say it's a failure of a season if we're not in the Final Four or the championship game. But year in and year out, what we think is the standard of our program that we'd like it to be and what we think it should be is that we're a team that's competing for a national championship."
Notre Dame graduated two starters and a starting long-stick midfielder and a starting short-stick defensive midfielder. But the team is headlined by a first-team All American in goalkeeper John Kemp and a 20-goal scorer in attackman Sean Rogers, and Corrigan agreed that the Fighting Irish have the pieces to go deep into the postseason again.
"We've got some guys with the ability to play at a high level, and I feel good about it," he said. "I feel good that they've been very focused, they're working very hard, and we're all trying to figure out how we can all get a little better."