South Bend The Notre Dame men's lacrosse team is in the NCAA Quarterfinals for the 9th time in the last ten seasons. Thursday they left for Long Island where they'll take on Duke on Saturday.
The Irish handled Johns Hopkins on Sunday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to advance to this stage.
After having an up-and-down regular season, they are turning it on at the right time. They ran through the ACC Tournament, before falling to Virginia in the conference championship, and now hope to make it to the Final Four.
This is a team on the ascent, and the scary thing for the rest of the lacrosse world, is they don't believe they've even hit their peak.
"We're definitely moving in the right direction," Irish senior defenseman Hugh Crance said. "Coach preaches every day that we just want to get better each and every day, and so I think we haven't played our best lacrosse yet. Our best lacrosse is in front of us. If we keep coming to practice every day and keep working really hard, and pushing each other and holding each other accountable, then we can definitely obtain that goal of being the best team that we can be, hopefully at the end of May."
The team standing in the way of a trip to the Final Four, is Duke. The Irish have played the Blue Devils twice this season, splitting the season series.
Most recently, Notre Dame knocked off Duke in the ACC semifinals 12-10, derailing Duke's bid for a conference championship.
Just as Notre Dame sent the Blue Devils home in the ACC Tournament, the Irish know Duke would love to return the favor on an even bigger stage.
"It's definitely a rivalry," Crance said. "It's a very competitive series between us. We've played each other I think nine times in my career here, so we see them a lot, and I think there's no animosity towards them, they're a great program. There are guys that we know on that team, but we know when the whistle blows, we're coming. We're coming for them, and we're going to do our best to win at the end of the game."
Notre Dame will take on Duke in the NCAA Quarterfinals on Saturday from Hofstra University on Long Island. The game will be at 2:30pm and will air on ESPNU.