Kavanagh a unique talent
Brian Plamondon | Thursday, February 26, 2015
Growing up in the lacrosse hotbed of Long Island, Matt Kavanagh never had to look far to find competition on the field. And, really, he didn’t have to stray far from his own home in Rockville Centre, New York — Kavanagh grew up with four brothers and one sister.
The competitive drive the junior attack developed at home has been a big part of his success suiting up for Notre Dame, he said.
“We were always doing something together,” Kavanagh said of his siblings. “Everything was kind of a little competition.”
Nowadays, Kavanagh is the focal point of No. 2 Notre Dame’s explosive offense. In two games this season, the Irish have averaged 15.5 goals per game, good for fifth in the country.
After totaling 123 points (74 goals, 49 assists) in 34 games over the last two seasons, Kavanagh has gotten off to a slow start this season by his standards with four goals and five assists in two Irish victories. Yet that doesn’t necessarily bother Kavanagh, an upperclassman who is becoming more of a leader with each passing game. Take, for example, his tutoring of fellow attack Mikey Wynne, a freshman who burst onto the scene this year with 10 goals in his first two games.
“I’ve been trying to talk to Mike, guide him,” Kavanagh said. “Which spots he should be in, which spots [senior attack] Conor Doyle will be in — just so we know, in our heads, what we [need to] do before we even do anything.”
In addition to helping the freshmen adjust to on-field strategy, Kavanagh said he tries to be someone the underclassmen can look up to.
“[I try to set] a good example, work-ethic wise,” Kavanagh said. “On the field and in the classroom … for the younger guys, just so they know what it takes to be successful at this level.”
For young players wanting to hone their scoring touches, Kavanagh is the model. A proficient goal-scorer, Kavanagh has been just as useful for the Irish at dishing the ball, establishing a Notre Dame single-season record for assists last year with 33. Even though attacks are mostly praised for finding the back of the net, Kavanagh said he doesn’t mind spreading the wealth on the offensive end.
“It makes things a lot easier, dodging-wise, when the defense thinks you’re going to be passing,” Kavanagh said. “Having a good balance in my game, I think, has been really helping me.”
Kavanagh’s offensive abilities have not gone unrecognized, as he was selected to the NCAA All-Tournament Team in 2014 and garnered first-team preseason All-America honors this year.
By the time he’s finished at Notre Dame, there’s a possibility he could break numerous school records and receive offers from Major League Lacrosse. But none of that matters to Kavanagh, who said he has one goal in mind: to win the elusive national championship.
After the stinging defeat to Duke in last season’s title game, Kavanagh said the Irish need to focus on the day in front of them rather than a potential championship run even if they hope to make one.
“We just have to get better every day,” Kavanagh said. “If we didn’t get better that day, then we didn’t really achieve anything. It’s a day-by-day process. … We have to take it one step at a time.”
Next up in that process, Notre Dame plays Dartmouth at 1 p.m. at Arlotta Stadium.