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Saturday, May 25, 2024
The Observer

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After escaping Cornell, the Irish look ahead to an ACC showdown with North Carolina

The No. 1-ranked Irish seek to extend their six-game win streak as they near the postseason

Over the weekend, the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team escaped a scare against Cornell. With 6.4 seconds remaining, junior midfielder Ben Ramsey scored the decisive goal to propel the Irish to an 18-17 win in an instant classic. Ever since the Georgetown loss, which now feels like ages ago for the undisputed No. 1 team in the country, Notre Dame has been in control of their games. On Long Island last Sunday, the Irish showed their ability to win ugly, a reflection of their championship pedigree. They will return home to face North Carolina in the penultimate game of the regular season.

The Tar Heels have struggled to keep up in a stacked ACC, losing both conference games thus far. They come into Saturday’s matchup with a 6-6 record overall on a four-game losing streak. The North Carolina attack has discovered a budding star in freshman Owen Duffy, who has 54 points on 32 goals this season, both team-highs. Graduate student Logan McGovern has 45 points of his own and leads the team with 25 assists. Their 12.67 goals per game as a team rank 21st in the country. On the other end, the Tar Heel defense has conceded 10 goals per game, ranking 18th in the country. Despite their lackluster record, this team has shown flashes throughout the season, boasting a strong win over No. 13 Penn and narrow one-goal losses against No. 6 Syracuse and No. 12 Army. 

One of the stories from the weekend thriller against Cornell was the emergence, or re-emergence, of senior midfielder Eric Dobson. Coming off of an incredible NCAA tournament performance, the projected PLL top-10 pick was expected to dominate from midfield this season. While his 18-point output is nothing to scoff at, his production has been disappointing in light of the high expectations. Dobson’s aggressiveness on the attack has been questioned for parts of the season, and his performance in the midfield has been partly overshadowed by freshman Jordan Faison. Despite his struggles, however, Dobson delivered last weekend with his 13th career hat trick, one of the goals coming at an important point in the fourth quarter. Heading into the postseason, the Irish will hope to get that version of Dobson every game.

Outside of Dobson, graduate student attackman Jake Taylor continues to be one of the most prolific attackmen in the country. He added to his impressive goal total with a hat trick of his own last weekend, putting him up to a team-high 29 on the season. The front-runner for the Tewaaraton Award, an award offered to the best player in college lacrosse, is Pat Kavanagh. The graduate student attackman added another strong performance to his resume with a two-goal, two-assist output against Cornell and has an opportunity to push for the award down the stretch. He is up to a team-high 43 points on the season, spearheading an Irish attack that ranks first in the nation with 16.56 goals per game. Graduate student goalkeeper Liam Entenmann, now Notre Dame’s all-time saves leader after the last game, will want a better performance out of himself and the defense against the Tar Heels. The 17 goals conceded against Cornell were uncharacteristic of a unit that has been so formidable all season.

The competition will take place on Saturday, April 20 at Arlotta Stadium at 11:30 a.m. with ACC Network providing the broadcast.