Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

20240420, Arlottta Stadium, Meghan Lange, Men's Lacrosse, Senior Day, University of North Carolina-98.jpg

Irish dominate Duke, cruise to ACC Championship

Notre Dame rides 16-6 win to ACC Tournament title in Charlotte

Notre Dame men's lacrosse defeats Virginia and Duke to capture a championship. Sounds familiar, doesn't it?

The Irish duplicated the final stretch of their 2023 National Championship this weekend at the ACC Tournament. Only this time, they chartered their course to glory in utterly dominant fashion. Following up an 18-9 vanquishing of Virginia in Friday afternoon's conference semifinal, Notre Dame mounted a destruction of Duke in Sunday's championship game. With their 16-6 takedown of the Blue Devils, the Irish claimed their third ACC Tournament title and definitively locked up the top overall seed for the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

Notre Dame, whose win streak stretched to 10 with Sunday's result, played in an entirely different galaxy than Duke in the first half. The Irish controlled 10 of 12 faceoffs, scooped up 16 groundballs to the Blue Devils' five and went up 8-2 at the midway break. 

Each of the game's first five goals belonged to the Irish, who struck first just over two and a half minutes into the contest. A dodging run from junior midfielder Will Angrick set up graduate attacker Jake Taylor, who buried his 32nd goal of the season. Less than three minutes later, after graduate goalie Liam Entenmann's second of 12 saves on the day, Notre Dame scored again. In a patient Irish offense, junior attacker Chris Kavanagh teed up graduate midfielder Reilly Gray for a left-handed rip that seared the back of the net.

Ahead by two, Notre Dame continued to stymie Duke before adding to its lead with a quick trio of goals. The first came on a quick release from Taylor, who caught a feed from senior midfielder Eric Dobson and fired low and hard all in one motion for his second goal of the day. After 62 seconds passed, Gray joined Taylor in the two-goal club and reached the 10-goal plateau for the season. Within a minute of Gray's tally, Entenmann made another big save and set the Irish transition in motion. Less than 15 seconds later, Chris Kavanagh slotted his 28th goal of the season from the wing, finishing off a clinical play and quarter for Notre Dame.

Dyson Williams and Duke would finally crack the scoreboard with nine seconds remaining in the first quarter, but Notre Dame still carried a 5-1 lead into the second.

Early in the second quarter, the Irish tallied twice in quick succession yet again. Graduate defenseman Chris Conlin forced a Duke turnover on the defensive end, jumpstarting another fruitful Notre Dame march in transition. It finished with graduate midfielder Devon McLane snapping home his 22nd goal of the year, which restored the five-goal Irish lead. Junior faceoff specialist Will Lynch, who won 15 of his 21 faceoffs taken, immediately set up Notre Dame's next goal with another victory at the X. His win translated to graduate attacker Pat Kavanagh's 21st goal of the season, giving the Irish their largest lead of the day at 7-1.

Though Benn Johnston produced Duke's second goal with four and a half minutes remaining before halftime, Notre Dame answered before the break. In cleaning up an errant pass, Dobson quickly found an open McLane, who deposited his second goal for an 8-2 Irish lead.

Coming out of halftime, Duke made an early push to narrow Notre Dame's advantage to four. Reigning Tewaaraton Award winner Brennan O'Neill broke through the stingy Irish defense for his first goal of the day, and unlikely suspect Tyler Carpenter followed with his second tally of the year for an 8-4 score. But exactly a minute later, Taylor completed his hat trick with a silky finish, reaching behind his back while going to the ground.

Although Johnston and the Blue Devils would score again a minute after that, Notre Dame did not allow Duke any closer from there. Angrick pushed the Irish to the 10-goal mark with his seventh tally of the season, and Chris Kavanagh soon answered with one of the grittiest goals of the tournament. At the end of three quarters, Notre Dame led by a score of 11-5.

Beginning the final quarter, Williams needed just nine seconds to score for Duke, trimming the Irish edge to 11-6. But in a similar fashion to last year's national championship game, Notre Dame pulled away cleanly down the stretch. Sophomore midfielder Max Busenkell and Chris Kavanagh potted back-to-back goals, sending the Irish to a 13-6 lead. Pat Kavanagh then buried his second goal after a lengthy run toward the cage. 

As the clock whittled down in the fourth quarter, Notre Dame tapped into its depth for two more goals. With five minutes to play, sophomore attacker Will Maheras wrapped around the crease for his first collegiate goal. Three minutes later, senior attacker Bryce Walker provided the game's final scoring change, putting the Irish up 16-6 with his fourth goal of the season.

When the clock hit zero, Notre Dame had completed one of the most dominant runs to an ACC Championship in tournament history. Winning two games against top-flight opponents by a combined 19 goals, the Irish put every corner of the nation on notice with the NCAA Tournament awaiting. As the undisputed top team in America, Notre Dame enters the big dance with a record of 12-1 and a six-game postseason win streak that dates back to last season.