NOTRE DAME, IN – Almost exactly 24 hours before their NCAA Men's Lacrosse first-round face-off, Notre Dame and Yale warmed up at Arlotta Stadium on a cool, cloudy day to prepare for the battle of nationally ranked teams that airs on ESPNU at 5:15 p.m. Sunday.
"It's an awesome opportunity to play a team like Notre Dame," said Yale senior Matt Gibson. It's also incredible to have come this far in my years here, and I know it means a lot to all of the guys who've gone through the program."
The Fighting Irish's artificially surfaced lacrosse venue, which is very similar to Reese Stadium, is nestled between the baseball, soccer and tennis facilities – just a few hundred yards from Notre Dame Stadium – and surrounded by plush, real grass playing surfaces, many of which have yellow football goalposts.
The No. 11 ranked Bulldogs jumped on a bus at 3 a.m. on Friday to catch a pair of flights out of New York to Chicago, where a bus was waiting to drive them two and half hours south to Notre Dame. The team, staying in a South Bend hotel across the street from the College Football Hall of Fame, was in Arlotta Stadium for a 2 p.m. practice that afternoon to shake out the cobwebs from the early excursion.
"We've been on the cusp [of the NCAAs] for a while, so it's really special to make the tournament. That being said, we're going to take the same underdog approach that has gotten us where we are now," said Gibson, a first-team All-Ivy League pick who leads the team with 56 points.
Yale, looking for a 10th straight win, is coming off an Ivy Tournament Championship last weekend. The No. 4 Irish, who fell to St. John's in the Big East Tournament, has won four consecutive home games since falling to Penn State, 4-3, on Feb. 26.
In other first-round play on Saturday afternoon, Colgate upset sixth seed Massachusetts, 13-11, No. 3 Duke got past Syracuse, 12-9, Denver knocked off No. 8 North Carolina, 16-14, and No. 1 Loyola smashed Canisius, 17-5.
Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director