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Saturday, April 13, 2024
The Observer

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Kavanaghs lead Irish to 21-8 win over Marquette in road opener

No. 1 Irish men's lacrosse rolls past Golden Eagles to improve to 2-0

On Sunday afternoon, No. 1 Notre Dame men’s lacrosse continued its strong start to the year, rolling past Marquette 21-8 in Milwaukee to improve to 2-0 on the year.

As was the case in their season-opening 25-3 win over Cleveland State on Wednesday, the Irish offense was the story. The Kavanagh brothers led the way, with graduate student attacker Pat (five assists and two goals) and junior attacker Chris (four goals and three assists) each racking up seven points to tie for the team lead.

With the victory, Notre Dame has now opened its 2024 slate by scoring at least 20 goals in consecutive games for the first time in program history. The 46 goals they’ve posted are the most ever for an Irish team in a two-game stretch.

But while they faced little resistance in jumping out to a 10-0 lead in the first half against Cleveland State, Marquette — who entered Sunday’s game 3-0 behind a high-powered offense — offered Notre Dame its first taste of adversity and didn’t wait long to do so.

After Marquette won the opening faceoff, Jake Stegman put the Golden Eagles in front with a goal just seven seconds into the game. Pat Kavanagh would even things for the Irish just over a minute later with his first goal of the season, but Stegman quickly answered with his second score of the quarter to put Marquette ahead again.

Notre Dame leveled things at 2-2 behind a goal from midfielder Jordan Faison — the freshman two-sport star would score twice on the afternoon after recording a hat trick in his lacrosse debut on Wednesday — and the Irish would add two more en route to a 4-2 advantage midway through the first.

But the Golden Eagles defense buckled down, holding Notre Dame scoreless for the final six minutes of the period. And after Marquette found the back of the net with just one second remaining in the quarter, the buzzer sounded with the top-ranked Irish clinging to a 4-3 lead.

The start of the second quarter was similarly tense, with each team trading goals in the opening two minutes. But from that point on, it was all Notre Dame. The Irish rattled off six unanswered goals while holding the Golden Eagles scoreless for more than 15 minutes across parts of the second and third quarters.

Chris Kavanagh got the ball rolling with a pair of goals less than a minute apart to stretch Notre Dame’s lead to three. From there, Pat Kavanagh showcased the playmaking ability that’s helped him become the Irish’s all-time assists leader by setting up Notre Dame’s next three goals. One went to Faison, while the other two came on perfect feeds (one being a no-look pass) to graduate student attacker Jake Taylor in a continuation of the duo’s prolific partnership that was one of the nation’s most effective last season. The goals were two of four on the day for Taylor, who has now scored a team-high nine in just two games.

Notre Dame’s lead stretched to 11-4 just 10 seconds after Taylor’s second goal when junior faceoff specialist Will Lynch secured possession and went coast-to-coast to score his first goal of the year. Lynch impressed on the day, winning nine of 13 faceoffs to improve his winning percentage to .667 this season.

Marquette finally stopped the bleeding with a goal to trim their deficit back down to six, but they couldn’t keep the floodgates closed for long. The Irish would strike for five more goals before the end of the third quarter to finish with seven in the period.

Pat Kavanagh assisted Taylor for the third time in the game, and the next two Irish scores came from graduate student attacker Devon McLane, a transfer from Brown who finished with a hat trick and has scored five goals in his first two games with the Irish. McLane’s third goal came on Pat Kavanagh’s fifth assist of the day, matching his total from the season opener.

In the final minutes of the third, Taylor and Chris Kavanagh added to their scoring totals to push Notre Dame’s lead into double digits for the first time. Marquette would close out the quarter with a goal to make the score 16-7, but the Irish opened the fourth quarter with a decisive 4-0 run to effectively put the game out of reach.

First it was senior Eric Dobson — tabbed by USA Lacrosse Magazine as Preseason National Midfielder of the Year — who scored his second goal of the game to put the Irish back ahead by 10. Then Notre Dame looked to the Kavanagh connection, as Chris threw a high “alley-oop” pass across the middle of the field to Pat, who jumped to catch the pass and fire the ball into the back of the net from close range before landing.

Goals from graduate student midfielder Reilly Gray and Chris Kavanagh raised Notre Dame’s scoring total to 20. After Marquette snapped the run with its eighth goal, Irish sophomore midfielder Max Busenkell tallied what would ultimately be the last score of the afternoon as Notre Dame closed out the 21-8 victory.

While the Kavanaghs did much of the damage with 14 combined points and three Irish players – Chris Kavanagh, Taylor and McLane – earned hat tricks, it was a largely balanced offensive effort again for Notre Dame. 10 different Irish players scored a goal after 14 did so against Cleveland State.

The Irish were also buoyed by a strong defensive performance, as Marquette was held in single digits for the first time all season. Notre Dame limited the Golden Eagles to just 15 shots on goal while finishing with a 32-25 ground ball advantage. The Irish have now ceded just 11 goals across two games this season.

After starting the year with two games in five days, Notre Dame will have a full week off before returning to action. However, the Irish will also be entering the brunt of their non-conference schedule, with a pair of high-profile Sunday afternoon matchups in South Bend next up on the docket.

Next weekend, Notre Dame will host Georgetown, who has started the year 1-2 but did so against three ranked opponents and knocked off No. 19 Penn on the road on Saturday. The following Sunday, the Irish will face No. 4 Maryland in a rematch of the triple-overtime thriller that Notre Dame won in College Park last year. Both games will be available on ESPNU.