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Sunday, March 3, 2024
The Observer

Irish women’s lacrosse falls to Boston College, men come up short against Virginia

The ACC Tournament run of Notre Dame women’s lacrosse came to an end in the semifinals Friday afternoon. The Irish held top-seeded Boston College to their third-lowest scoring output of the season but were stifled offensively in the 9-4 defeat. With the loss, Notre Dame falls to 13-5 and will now wait to hear their postseason fate on Selection Sunday.

Friday’s game pitted two teams playing at an extremely high level against one another. Notre Dame entered the semifinals on a five-game winning streak after taking down No. 11 Virginia in the quarterfinals just two days prior. Boston College had racked up eight consecutive victories after their most recent defeat, all the way back on March 19. That stretch included a come-from-behind 12-11 win against the Irish in South Bend and an impressive road victory against then-No. 1 Syracuse.

Boston College has featured one of the nation’s best offenses all season, and the Irish’s gameplan for the Eagles has seemed to center around slowing down their attack and inducing a low-scoring contest. When the teams met in early April, Notre Dame held Boston College to just seven goals in the first 50 minutes before the Eagles exploded for five straight in the final 10 minutes to win.

The Irish’s defense was similarly effective Friday, but Boston College’s was even more so. Notre Dame started strong, as senior attacker Madison Ahern scored off an assist from senior attacker Jackie Wolak just over one minute into the game. That 1-0 advantage stood for nearly 10 minutes as both defenses buckled down. The Eagles finally got on the scoreboard with a goal that drew them even with less than four minutes left in the opening quarter. They would strike for another soon after, and a third straight early in the second quarter put them in the driver’s seat with a 3-1 lead.

A goal from senior midfielder Kasey Choma snapped Notre Dame’s scoring drought of nearly 20 minutes and trimmed their deficit to 3-2. But the Irish’s momentum was short lived, as the Eagles responded by scoring the final two goals of the half to go into the locker room leading 5-2.

The second half played out much like the first. Just like they did in the opening quarter, the Irish struck first with a Choma goal just 39 seconds into the half. Notre Dame’s defense continued their strong effort, holding the Eagles to just a single goal in the quarter. That was enough to retain their three-goal advantage, though, as the Irish struggled to put pressure on Boston College and find consistent offense.

The Eagles continued to open up their lead in the fourth quarter. After six scoreless minutes to start the period, they scored three straight goals to extend their lead to 9-3 in a game-sealing run. Irish senior attacker Jane McAvoy scored an unassisted goal in the final minutes, but it was a case of too little, too late for Notre Dame. They would not draw any nearer as Boston College closed out the 9-4 win and advanced to the ACC championship game, where they would defeat North Carolina on Sunday to claim the title.

Notre Dame’s time in Charlotte ended in uncharacteristic fashion. The Irish entered the game ranked fifth nationally in scoring offense and had tallied at least seven goals in every prior outing but could only manage one score in each quarter Friday. There were certainly positives to be found in their play over the week, as they defeated an NCAA Tournament-caliber opponent in Virginia and limited Boston College’s attack for the second time this season. The Irish created scoring opportunities Friday but were prevented from capitalizing by strong Eagle goalkeeping. Notre Dame converted just four of their 15 shots on goal.

Luckily, the Irish won’t have to ruminate on the loss for long. They can quickly shift their attention to the NCAA Tournament, which they are well-positioned for after a strong regular season. The Irish came into the week ranked No. 7 nationally and are not likely to shift much after beating Virginia and falling to Boston College. A top-eight seed would give Notre Dame the chance to host their first and potential second-round matchups at home, where they are 8-1 this season. After falling in the opening round of last year’s tournament, Notre Dame will look to go further this time around.

The Irish will find out their postseason placement during the selection show Sunday. NCAA Tournament play will begin on Friday, May 12.

Third-quarter burst pushes Virginia past Irish men’s lacrosse

Notre Dame men’s lacrosse was defeated by Virginia 12-8 on Sunday afternoon in Charlottesville. The No. 1 Irish are 9-0 against all other opponents but have had no answers for the No. 3 Cavaliers, who also won when the teams faced off in South Bend earlier this season. The loss was Notre Dame’s sixth straight against Virginia and knocked the Irish out of ACC title contention as they enter the final week of the regular season.

Unlike their previous matchup, when Virginia jumped out to an early 5-1 advantage, the first half was dead even. The opening quarter was a defensive struggle that ended with the score knotted at 1-1. Both offenses seemed to find their footing in the second as the teams continued to trade goals until heading into halftime tied 4-4. Senior attacker Pat Kavanagh reached a milestone in the second quarter. His first assist of the day made him the third player in Notre Dame history to reach 200 career points.

The second half began with a 2-1 Irish run that put them in front. But the Cavaliers dominated the rest of the period, scoring four consecutive goals in a stretch that proved decisive. Notre Dame responded with two goals in the fourth, but Virginia scored three to stretch their eventual margin of victory to four.

The Irish were held in single digits for the first time all season as they continued to struggle against the Cavalier defense. Their previous season low of 10 goals came in the teams’ first meeting.

Notre Dame has a chance to get back on track before the postseason begins, as they will be on the road to face North Carolina on Saturday. The game is scheduled for noon and will be on ACC Network.