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Pelham's Matt Landis Looks Back, Ahead As Notre Dame Plays In NCAA Tourney

Matt Landis, left.
Matt Landis, left. Photo Credit: University of Notre Dame

The following is a "Things I Know" feature with former Pelham Memorial High School star Matt Landis, Notre Dame’s men’s lacrosse captain and All-America defenseman, on the eve of the Irish NCAA quarterfinal matchup with North Carolina.

Landis is a two-time Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Year and in 2015 was the top defensive player in the nation according to the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association. He is one of the five finalists for the 2016 Tewaaraton Award presented to the top player in the country. Landis graduated earlier this month with a degree in finance from the Mendoza College of Business. He received an honorary postgraduate scholarship earlier this year from the ACC.

Notre Dame faces North Carolina noon Sunday at Ohio State with a trip to the NCAA Final Four on the line. The game will be televised by ESPN2.

I didn’t start playing lacrosse until I was in eighth grade. I played football, hockey and baseball—but baseball just seemed really boring so I switched to lacrosse. None of my friends played lacrosse, but there was another group that did play. A couple of kids I was close to started playing and we really fell in love with the sport. We played at our old elementary school and used garbage cans as nets. We threw the ball around all that summer and through the fall and then the next spring (as a freshman in high school) I really wanted to play.

I wanted to play midfield, I wanted to score some goals. But my high school coach thought my skills translated better on defense because I was a little more physically developed and taller than a lot of the other guys. There was kind of a shortage of guys on defense on our team so I just picked up a pole. It went on from there.

My high school coach played attack at Albany, so he mentored me from an offensive perspective. The summer going into my junior year I played in the Empire State Games and my coach was Tim Schurr. He was one of the best defensemen ever—he played for Team USA. He spent a lot of time showing me everything about footwork and positioning. He really helped me out a lot. (Notre Dame assistant) Coach (Gerry) Byrne saw me play and that was fortunate. It turned out to be a really great story, and I’m happy I’m here.

Football was an option at one point for me — I was looking at the Ivy League. I was a safety. But lacrosse became a reality that summer. I was getting recruiting letters and coaches were coming up to me. It was a fun, unique period of time. I’m happy I talked to Notre Dame.

I had to get myself physically ready to play at the college leve l and I did that in the summer before coming to Notre Dame. I was in the best shape of my life my freshman year. I really worked hard, especially strength-wise. The next part was learning all the defense, the defensive schemes, our language, the roles and the communication. Then it was about buying into the system and developing the trust and the accountability that is unique to our defense.

When I came here (to Notre Dame) on my first visit when I was a junior (in high school), I told Coach (Corrigan) I was going to be an All-American. I’m not sure what he thought about that. That was my individual goal, but our collective goal was to win a national championship. We’ve got one more thing to do.

I’m going to be working full-time at Jefferies Investment Banking in New York. I interned there last summer. And I’m going to keep playing lacrosse as long as I can (he was the number-three overall selection by the Florida Launch in the 2016 Major League Lacrosse Draft).

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