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Sunday, March 3, 2024
The Observer

From Gainesville to South Bend: Irish lacrosse teams dominate in NCAA first round

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Senior attacker Jane McAvoy and freshman defender Ellie Noto run onto the field before Notre Dame's 15-9 win against Louisville on April 20, 2023 at Arlotta Stadium.
Senior attacker Jane McAvoy and freshman defender Ellie Noto run on to the field before Notre Dame’s 15-9 win against Louisville on April 20, 2023 at Arlotta Stadium.


The Notre Dame men’s and women’s lacrosse teams played this weekend in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The women’s team started off the weekend with a dominating 21-6 win against Mercer. Less than 24 hours later, the men’s team finished a dominant weekend with a 20-7 win over Utah.

Women’s team ousts the Bears with a triple hat trick

Within the first few minutes of both games, it was clear that the Irish would be progressing to the next round. The women’s team started the weekend Friday night in Gainesville, Florida. Seven different players scored in the victory. Notre Dame’s top scorers each scored a hat trick, with senior midfielder Kasey Choma and senior attackers Jackie Wolak and Madison Ahern accounting for 15 of the 21 goals. The trio scored six, six and three goals, respectively.

Junior midfielder Kelly Denes started out the scoring, and only 12 seconds later, Choma added on. Junior midfielder Mary Kelly Doherty assisted both goals. Choma was not even close to being done, however, notching the next two goals to put Notre Dame up 4-0. It was then Wolak’s turn to score, and she would find the net twice within a minute. Choma remained a key factor, assisting on both goals. The Irish continued to control possession for the remainder of the quarter. Anytime the ball would move to the defensive end, the Irish leveraged quick pressure to reclaim the ball. 

Within the first quarter alone, five Irish players notched a point, while the Bears remained scoreless. Wolak opened the scoring in the second within the first two minutes of play. However, it would take another 10 minutes for a change on the scoreboard, this time with Doherty on a free position shot. The second quarter was the lowest-scoring frame and Mercer was able to notch two goals to get on the board. The Bears’ second goal came after an Irish yellow card, and with just 26 seconds left in the half.

That goal did not deter the Irish. Although Mercer scored first in the second half, the Irish outscored the Bears 6-2 in the third quarter. The fourth quarter again saw Irish possession after possession. The fourth also saw more diversity in Irish scoring, although some familiar faces found the net too. Choma started the quarter with her sixth of the night. Junior attacker Abby Maichin scored her 11th goal of the season, assisted by Doherty. Finally, freshman attack Fran Frieri scored her fourth career goal with seconds left in the game to seal the 21-6 victory over Mercer. 

Irish men’s lacrosse trounces Utah 20-7

The following day, the Utes marched into Arlotta Stadium to take on the men’s team. Again, within minutes of the game it was clear that the Irish would dominate. After a back-and-forth first few minutes, the Irish got on a roll where they looked all but unstoppable. Senior midfielder Reilly Gray started the scoring at the 3:27 mark. Sophomore attacker Chris Kavanagh and senior attacker Jake Taylor quickly struck the net, giving Notre Dame a 3-0 lead in a 91-second burst.

Just like the women’s team, the men’s team built up a quite comfortable lead before the end of the first quarter. Although Utah’s attack is a force to be reckoned with, Notre Dame silenced the threat by keeping the ball in their hands for the majority of the quarter. Taylor tallied two more goals for the first quarter hat trick as part of eight Irish tallies in the first 15 minutes. When Utah was on offense, the Irish defense pressured out and forced the Utes into mistakes. With seconds left in the quarter, and the ball in Utah’s hands, the Irish defense did not fret. After a ground ball by senior goaltender Liam Entenmann and a quick transition, the Irish shut out Utah in the first quarter. 

In the second quarter, the crowd saw glimpses of Utah’s offensive power. With only a little more than a minute into the second, Carson Moyer wrapped around the crease and finished with a powerful left-handed shot. Utah was able to secure the next draw control, and a quick transition gave the Utes had another shot.

Though Entennman saved this one, the Irish cheers were quickly hushed as Entenmann came out, passed the 50 and turned over the ball. Although he was able to rush back before the Utes had an open net to shoot on, Utah eventually took advantage. The Utes quickly struck again and came close to cutting the lead in half.

Senior attacker Pat Kavanagh soon answered, denying Utah a chance at a comeback. With less than two minutes left, Chris passed to his brother from behind the net. Pat barely had the ball in his stick before it was in the back of the net. Taylor and sophomore midfielder Ben Ramsey would finish out the scoring for the Irish going into the half.

Again, similar to the women’s game, the men also took over the third quarter. Taylor scored his fifth of the game, the third of which that was assisted by Pat Kavanagh. After a series of turnovers, sophomore midfielder Jalen Seymour scored. All of the scoring for the Irish in the third came in the first five minutes. Ramsey and Pat Kavanagh both finished off hat tricks in the frame. Utah was able to score twice in this quarter, the second goal coming with a second left on the clock. But it was hardly enough to make Notre Dame sweat, as the Irish emptied their bench with the score out of reach. The Irish were able to secure a 20-7 victory on the night. 

Both the men’s and women’s teams will move on to the next round in the NCAA tournament. The women will face off against Florida on Sunday at noon ET. Although the Gators the higher seed, Notre Dame certainly does not figure to go down quietly. However, the Gators will have home field advantage.

The men’s team move on to play the winner of the Johns Hopkins and Bryant on May 21.