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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

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Irish men’s lacrosse finish regular season with win over No. 5-ranked Virginia

With their eighth straight win, the Irish set up a rematch against the Cavaliers next week in the ACC Tournament

The Irish men’s lacrosse team closed out their regular season on the road with a rematch of last year’s NCAA Tournament semifinal thriller against Virginia. The regular season finale has important implications for seeding in next week’s ACC Tournament. The No. 5-ranked Cavaliers came into the game having lost their previous two against conference rivals Duke and Syracuse. On the other side, barring an early-season slip-up against Georgetown, the Irish had been near flawless, coming into the match on a seven-game winning run.  

Notre Dame’s leading point-getter in the midfield, graduate student Devon McLane opened up the scoring for the Irish. McCabe Millon, one of the best freshmen in the country, answered quickly for Virginia. The two ACC powerhouses traded goals to close out a hotly contested first quarter that finished 3-3. Both attackman Kavanagh brothers, junior Chris and graduate student Pat, got on the board for the Irish, as did midseason first team All-American Connor Shellenberger for the Cavaliers. The two continued to trade blows, with Payton Cormier opening up the scoring in the second for Virginia before Chris Kavanagh connected with the team’s leading goal-scorer, graduate student Jake Taylor, for his first of the day. Cormier would grab his second before the end of another relatively low-scoring quarter, taking a 6-4 lead into half for the Cavaliers. As brilliant as both teams are on offense, the half was defined by the play of graduate student Liam Entenmann for Notre Dame and Matthew Nunes for Virginia, arguably the two best shot-stoppers in college lacrosse. Both netminders made an incredible eight saves in the half. 

Virginia controlled the opening draw of the third quarter, which led to Cormier’s hat trick goal, opening up the biggest lead of the day for either team. Notre Dame, however, would respond with a 4-0 run, starting with the second goal on the day for Pat Kavanagh. Sophomore midfielder Max Busenkell scored the next goal before the Irish capitalized on a man-up opportunity to tie the game at seven. Junior attackman and man-up specialist Jeffery Ricciardelli got the goal for an Irish man-up unit that has been lethal all season. Taylor’s second of the day gave Notre Dame their first lead since the first quarter. With 30 seconds remaining in the quarter, Virginia would have the opportunity to show the prowess of their man-up unit. Aided by the man advantage, Cormier tallied his fourth of the day to tie the game heading into the fourth. 

Virginia took a 9-8 lead after a long-range shot from Ryan Colsey. For the remainder of the quarter, however, the Cavalier offense would fail to score again. The Irish would consolidate their staunch defense on the other end, going on a 3-0 run to finish the game. After McLane’s second tied the game, freshman midfielder Jordan Faison gave Notre Dame the lead with nine minutes remaining. McLane’s hat trick goal provided some breathing room while the defense did the rest. The Irish left Charlottesville with another impressive victory and placed an exclamation mark on a dominant regular season. The victory set up a rematch with Virginia in the ACC Tournament Semifinal, which will take place Friday, May 3 at 5 p.m.