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Friday, March 1, 2024
The Observer

Irish men’s lacrosse falls to Georgetown in battle of top-five teams

In an early-season clash between two of the nation’s top teams, No. 4 Notre Dame was defeated 16-11 by No. 3 Georgetown in South Bend on Saturday afternoon. Georgetown (3-0) came out of the gate strong, jumping out to an 11-2 lead. Notre Dame (1-1) rallied in the second half to pull within one, but the Irish were never able to completely erase the deficit.

Georgetown struck first on Saturday, with senior midfielder Declan McDermott scoring the first of his four goals just minutes into the game. McDermott’s goal kicked off a prolific half for Georgetown offensively, as they led 6-1 after the first quarter and 11-4 at halftime.

The Hoyas got a major boost from faceoff specialist James Reilly, who won 20 out of 29 faceoffs during the game. Notre Dame found it difficult to gain momentum as Georgetown played “make it, take it” in the second quarter, the Hoyas scored four goals in just 1:41 of game time.

When the Irish were able to gain possession, they were stifled by Georgetown goalie Owen McElroy. McElroy was tabbed as a Preseason First Team All-American, and he lived up to that billing with a 24-save performance, several of which were on shots from point-blank range. Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan said that the Irish’s limited first-half offense was not due to a lack of quality shots, but rather to a combination of McElroy’s strong play and Notre Dame’s poor execution when shooting.

“Shots look a lot better when they go in the goal,” Corrigan said after the game. “We had plenty of good shots in the first half. Their goalie played extremely well and we shot poorly. We just weren’t putting balls in the goal.”

Georgetown entered the game battle-tested, having already earned wins against No. 16 Johns Hopkins and No. 10 Penn. Meanwhile, Notre Dame’s only prior game was a dominant 24-2 win against an overmatched Detroit Mercy squad. Corrigan was quick to praise Georgetown’s preparation while noting this discrepancy in experience against top competition likely played a role in his team’s comparatively slow start.

“[Georgetown] came in well-prepared,” Corrigan said. “They’ve played two top-20 teams before us and we haven’t played anybody of that caliber. It took us a little time to adjust to the challenge of their athleticism.”

Eventually, though, the Irish were able to settle in and play up to their expectations, as they mounted a furious comeback during the third quarter.

“I think in the second half we were adjusted,” Corrigan said. “We put balls in good spots on the goal.”

Notre Dame began an 8-0 run late in the second quarter with a highlight-reel behind-the-back goal from junior All-American attackman Pat Kavanagh. Kavanagh’s goal seemed to spark the Irish bench as well as the crowd, and the energy in the stadium shifted Notre Dame’s way for the first time all game.

In the second half, the Irish were able to maintain that energy, led by graduate student Morrison Mirer. Mirer scored four goals after halftime, including three consecutively during the third quarter. On the defensive end, Notre Dame goalie Liam Entenmann recovered from a difficult first half to make several impressive saves, and he played a critical role in the Irish shutting out Georgetown in the quarter.

Notre Dame opened the fourth with a Mirer goal to cut the Hoyas’ lead to just one at 11-10, but a miraculous comeback was ultimately not in the cards as Georgetown scored five of the next six goals to seal the win. The Irish put multiple shots on goal with about five minutes left in an effort to trim the lead back down to one, but McElroy once again stepped up to make several crucial saves.

In a notable twist, it was Connor Morin, a graduate transfer originally from Notre Dame, who effectively put the game away, scoring back-to-back goals in the final minutes to give Georgetown an insurmountable 15-11 lead. Those goals came as part of a hat trick for Morin in his return to South Bend.

While Corrigan was pleased with how his team responded in the second half, he emphasized the importance of maintaining that level of play on a consistent basis. This is especially important given that Notre Dame’s next opponent is No. 1 Maryland, with that game coming as part of a gauntlet in which the Irish face ten teams currently ranked in the top 20 during their remaining 11 games.

“We play the best schedule in the country, so every game is big and every game is meaningful,” Corrigan said. “We found out today that, at our best, we can be very good, but that we need to get better. We need to play [like in the second half] for 60 minutes to beat the teams on our schedule.”

The Irish will host the Terrapins at 2 p.m. on Saturday at Arlotta Stadium.