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Men’s Lacrosse: Corrigan praises Kavanagh

Greg Hadley | Wednesday, April 17, 2013

With just two games left in the regular season, the Irish are primed for a deep run into the Big East tournament and beyond.

The squad is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation and reached that ranking because of its stingy defense and opportune offense that has rallied late to win several close games. The leading scorer on this offense is not one of Notre Dame’s experienced upperclassmen, but an unfamiliar face: Matt Kavanagh.

A freshman attack from Rockville Centre, N.Y., Kavanagh currently leads the Irish (9-2) in goals (21), assists (11) and points (32). He is second on the team in shots and has started every game this season. He has been named the Big East Offensive Player of the Week and the national rookie of the week.

Yet, none of this is particularly a surprise. Kavanagh already had an impressive résuméwhen he arrived at Notre Dame. In 2012, he was the top post-graduate recruit in the nation after leading the U.S. U-19 national team to a gold medal at the world championships in Finland. He was named tournament MVP for scoring 20 goals and adding 11 assists. Right away, coach Kevin Corrigan knew he had an impressive talent in Kavanagh.

“Matt Kavanagh’s terrific,” Corrigan said. “He knows how to play when the game is moving.”

However, Kavanagh still had to prove himself at the faster-paced collegiate level. He immediately did, scoring the game-winning goal in a fall scrimmage against Detroit from his stomach. From there, things only got better, as he netted four goals in his first collegiate game against then-No. 9 Duke, then four more against North Carolina. Now,

Corrigan can’t imagine the offense without him.

“When we’re playing good offense, Matt is even better,” Corrigan said. “When the offense is moving, … Matt’s going to find spots to make plays. He puts himself in the middle of things a lot. For me, he’s the canary in the coal mine. When he’s scoring goals, that means we’re playing good offense.”

Kavanagh has often provided the offense with a spark when it needs it most. Down 2-0 late in the second quarter against Rutgers, it was Kavanagh who broke through to get the Irish going and avoid the upset. Again down against Georgetown, 5-2, Kavanagh once more started a scoring run that put the Irish ahead and in line for the victory.

Kavanagh and the rest of the Irish will look to extend their winning streak to four games when they face Villanova on Saturday.

The Irish will square off against the Wildcats at 2 p.m. at Arlotta Stadium.

Contact Greg Hadley at ghadley@nd.edu