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Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame men's lacrosse captures first national championship

Notre Dame lacrosse championship
Members of the Notre Dame lacrosse team pose with the national championship trophy and Notre Dame fan and ESPN commentator Dick Vitale after their 13-9 victory over Duke in the title game.

Notre Dame men's lacrosse won its first national title in program history Monday, defeating Duke 13-9 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. 

The Irish finished a dominant 14-2 season on top with its victory over the No. 1-seeded Blue Devils. After being surprisingly excluded from last year's tournament and after five previous Final Four appearances and two championship game defeats (both at the hands of Duke), the 35th season for head coach Kevin Corrigan and the Irish proved to be the charm.

It was Duke who drew first blood less than a minute into the contest. Garrett Leadmon slashed through the Notre Dame defense and powered a shot home. 

The first goal proved to be far from a bellwether for the remainder of the half, though. Graduate student midfielder Brian Tevlin, who played the hero's role in Notre Dame's semi-final win on Saturday, quickly struck back for the Irish. After several unsuccessful Notre Dame attempts at net, sophomore attacker Chris Kavanagh found Tevlin in front of goal, with the captain making no mistake to level the score at one. Soon after, junior midfielder Eric Dobson put the Irish in front. Gliding past a defender and shooting across the face of goal, Dobson beat Duke goalkeeper William Helm to put the Irish in front 2-1.

With their first lead of the game secured, Notre Dame would continue to pour it on in the first half. Chris Kavanagh would notch a goal of his own with two minutes remaining in the first quarter. Senior attacker Jake Taylor was the next to tally, opportunistically snagging a loose ground ball in front of the net and extending the lead to three.

Sophomore attacker Jeffery Ricciardelli then forced a Duke timeout following his goal to put Notre Dame ahead 5-1. Finally, graduate student midfielder Quinn McCahon pushed the Irish lead to five with a spectacular bar-down goal from beyond the halfway line to close the half. 

Notre Dame entered the break on the back of perhaps their best 30-minute stretch of the season. Senior goaltender Liam Entenmann was especially impressive, making eight first-half saves. Entenmann and the Irish defense went the final twenty-nine minutes of the first half without conceding a goal.

In the second half, however, the Blue Devils would respond quickly and forcefully. A run of four Duke tallies in the first six minutes of the third quarter created a one-goal ballgame. 

But Notre Dame didn’t blink at the Duke scoring streak. A lengthy man-up opportunity gave the Irish attack the control it needed to settle down. Sure enough, Ricciardelli notched his second goal of the game halfway through the third quarter to re-up the Notre Dame lead to two possessions. 

Despite their interrupted run, Duke continued fighting. Aidan Danenza found the back of the net from long range with a powerful strike to make it a 7-6 game with four minutes remaining in the third quarter. Charles Balsamo would then tie the game minutes later, appearing to set up a fourth-quarter score knotted at seven.

But Tevlin had other plans. The 2018 national champion with Yale responded just 34 seconds later to re-establish the Irish lead. Inspired by Tevlin’s goal and a rejuvenated largely pro-Irish crowd, Notre Dame would then grab another score before the fourth. Working with little time and in close quarters, Chris Kavanagh somehow slithered his way to the front of the net and snuck a shot by Helm with just 0.6 seconds on the third quarter clock.

After a dominant first two frames and a hectic third, Notre Dame re-established control for good in the fourth. A Dobson goal with 10 minutes remaining gave the Irish some breathing room heading down the stretch. Such insurance proved immediately useful, as an Owen Caputo goal quickly returned the Notre Dame lead to two.

But Jack Simmons had the response for the Irish. The graduate student midfielder fired his sixteenth goal of the season home with five minutes left in the contest. Simmons' goal unleashed a final Notre Dame run that would lock up the title. Taylor scored on a clever feed coming out of an Irish timeout to push the lead to four. McCahon, a Malvern, Pennsylvania native, then tallied his second of the game to make it five.

A late Duke consolation was all the Blue Devils could muster in the final minutes. Notre Dame ran out the clock and lifted its long-awaited first title with a 13-9 victory.