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Monday, May 27, 2024
The Observer

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Notre Dame looks to continue dominance against No. 8 Cornell

Irish hope to extend their five-game winning streak on Sunday in New York

After an early season slip-up in overtime against Georgetown, the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team has played like the undisputed best team in the country. Since the loss, the Irish have rattled off five straight victories over several elite opponents, including No. 5 Maryland, No. 7 Syracuse and No. 4 Duke last Sunday.

Despite playing fewer games than most teams, head coach Kevin Corrigan and the Irish pride themselves on their difficult schedule, playing in the ACC — which currently includes four teams in the national top 10 — and scheduling formidable non-conference tests. Their upcoming matchup with No. 8 Cornell on April 14 will be one such test. 

Playing in the Ivy League, arguably the second-best conference in the country behind the ACC, the Big Red have put together a 7-3 record. They have a few marquee wins this season, including victories against conference foes No. 13 Princeton and No. 9 Yale, but none better than their double-overtime victory over No. 7 Syracuse last Tuesday.

Cornell is led in attack by two outstanding upperclassmen. Graduate student Michael Long is the team leader in assists with 27 and total points with 50. Senior CJ Kirst has 46 points of his own and leads the team in goals with 34. They come off combining for four of the team’s 14 goals in a 14-8 win over Brown that propelled the Big Red’s conference record to 3-1. As a team, Cornell’s offense ranks third in the country in goals per game with 15.5 per game. On the other end, however, the Big Red have been a bit shaky defensively, allowing 13.3 goals per game, which ranks 62nd in the nation out of 73 teams.

In the final minutes of the Duke game, ESPN commentator Paul Carcaterra questioned if this Notre Dame team had any holes. Its performances following the Georgetown loss suggest there may be no answer to the question. Scoring 16.38 goals per game, the Irish attack leads the nation. Conducted by the Kavanagh brothers, graduate student Pat and junior Chris, who combined for 12 points in the victory over Duke, the Irish attack has looked unstoppable. Graduate attacker Jake Taylor has been the beneficiary of the Kavanaghs’ brilliant passing all season, notching a team-high 26 goals. Graduate student Devon McLane joins in as the leading point-scorer in the midfield with 22, alongside senior Eric Dobson and freshman sensation Jordan Faison, who have 15 and 17 goals respectively.

Allowing 9.25 goals per game, the Irish rank fourth in the nation defensively. On that side of the ball, it has been the Liam Entenmann show. The graduate student and reigning National Goalie of the Year in 2023 has continued his dominance in the cage this season. He has made 84 saves in eight games, including the save of the season against Syracuse, a play that saw him recover on a pass and dive across the net to deny what looked like a wide open goal. Pairing an Entenmann-anchored defense with the elite talent and production in the midfield and attack, this Notre Dame looks primed to continue this incredible run.

The Notre Dame vs. Cornell game will be played at a neutral site: Long Island University's Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium in Old Westbury, New York. Faceoff is set for 12:30 p.m. with ESPN+ providing the broadcast.