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Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Observer

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Irish rout Terrapins, win back-to-back national titles

Kavanagh brothers combined for 11 assists in national championship victory

On Saturday, the top-seeded Irish men’s lacrosse team took on the seventh-seeded Maryland Terrapins in the national championship. The final took place at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. This was the second meeting this year between the two sides. Earlier in the season, the Irish prevailed 14-9 in South Bend at Arlotta Stadium, but the Terps were red hot coming into the national championship after some regular-season struggles. Despite Maryland’s recent success, the 15-1 Irish routed the 11-5 Terrapins to win back-to-back national championships. 

After about a two-hour weather delay, the anticipated game finally started. The Terps struck first as senior attackmen Ryan Siracusa and Daniel Kelly both snuck a shot past graduate goalie Liam Entenmann’s stick to give Maryland the early two-goal lead. But the Irish settled into the game and quickly responded with three unanswered goals of their own. The goals were tallied by junior midfielder Will Angrick, graduate attacker Jake Taylor and sophomore midfielder Max Busenkell. After a quick goal from each team — scored by Jack Koras for the Terps and Jalen Seymour for the Irish — senior midfielder Eric Dobson scored to cap a 5-1 Notre Dame run to finish the quarter.

The story in the first quarter was the lack of goalie play. The wet field proved difficult for both goalies and favored the offenses. There were only two saves in the quarter, both by Entenmann. Maryland’s goalie Logan McNaney had none. The score at the end of the first quarter was 5-3 with the Irish in front.

At the start of the second quarter, the Irish picked up right where they left off with a quick goal by graduate midfielder Devon McLane and a defensive stop and two goals by junior attacker Chris Kavanagh — his 40th and 41st of the season. A few possessions later, he completed a hat trick with a crafty backhanded shot worthy of a SportsCenter Top 10 highlight. The run continued when graduate midfielder Reilly Gray added Notre Dame’s 10th goal of the day. Maryland finally found the back of the cage on man-up when senior attacker Eric Malever scored an uncontested goal on the doorstep. The high-powered Irish offense with incredible midfield depth proved too much for the Terps in the second quarter, and the second half ended with the Irish leading 10-4. 

Notre Dame’s dominance continued at the start of the third quarter as freshman midfielder and football wide receiver Jordan Faison found his own rebound and buried a behind-the-back shot right on the crease. The Irish then added another with Chris Kavanagh’s fourth goal. His brother, Pat Kavanagh, also notched the assist, which was his fifth assist of the day and 300th point all-time. Pat Kavanagh is the only Notre Dame men’s lacrosse player to accomplish this feat. Shortly after, Chris Kavanagh found the back of the net again with a tough finish on the crease. Near the end of the quarter, Maryland and Notre Dame traded goals. Junior midfielder Fisher Finley found the top-right corner from deep for the Irish and Daniel Kelly notched his second of the day for the Terps. The Irish led by nine, with a score of 14-5, going into the fourth quarter.

The fourth quarter was rather slow, as the Irish tried to run out the clock while also extending their lead to 10 with a goal from Taylor, assisted by Pat Kavanagh. This was Taylor’s second goal of the day and Pat Kavanagh’s sixth assist. This remained the only goal of the quarter and the final score finished 15-5 in Notre Dame’s favor.

Celebrations ensued as players drenched head coach Kevin Corrigan in a Gatorade bath, Irish fans rocketed lacrosse gear into the air and waved a “Play Like a Champion Today” flag over the stands.

This is just Notre Dame’s second national championship in program history. Notre Dame’s only other championship came last year against Duke. The Irish had a truly impeccable year with their only loss coming to Georgetown in overtime on Feb. 25. Since then, the Irish haven’t lost and enacted revenge against the Hoyas in the tournament. The Irish dominated the lacrosse field this year due to a number of factors: stellar defense, a powerful offense led by the Kavanagh brothers, great goaltending from Entenmann and talented depth with a rotation of three midfield lines. Most of all, the Irish’s success can be attributed to Corrigan who has been head coach of the men’s lacrosse team for 36 years. His legacy will certainly be remembered with back-to-back national championships. With this statement win in the national championship, Notre Dame establishes its legacy as a lacrosse powerhouse.