Kavanagh shines in overtime win
Brian Plamondon | Thursday, April 14, 2016
No. 1 Notre Dame has had a penchant for close games this season, and Wednesday night was no different.
The Irish (9-1, 3-0 ACC) blew a three-goal lead but prevailed over No. 17 Marquette 8-7 in overtime on the back of senior attack Matt Kavanagh’s four goals. Ninety seconds into the extra period, the senior captain and preseason All-American decided to take it himself and give the Irish the win over the Golden Eagles (8-2, 3-0 Big East).
“We all have great confidence and faith in Kav,” Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan said. “There’s nobody that’s made more big plays in their college career than Matt Kavanagh. So there’s nobody in our huddle that doesn’t expect that he’s gonna make plays and do some of the things that he’s been doing. I’m not surprised by that. I’m thrilled for him, but I’m more just grateful that we’ve had him for four years and I get to watch him make one more play like that at the end of a game.”
While pleased with the win, Corrigan said his team struggled with execution down the stretch.
“It was not a very good performance by us today, but it was a very good performance by them — a very gritty performance,” Corrigan said. “They took us right to the last play of the game, I have to give them credit for that. But it was disappointing for us. I know our team is disappointed, but I think at this point we’ll take the win and guys will understand the standard we want to play to.”
Kavanagh set the standard for Notre Dame, tallying five points after being held without one for the first time all season in Saturday’s win against Duke. He opened the scoring for the Irish 1:47 into the game to tie it at one apiece after the Golden Eagles scored in the first minute.
“Obviously if you score early, it gets our confidence up,” Kavanagh said. “Still, they were pretty confrontational playing us.”
Both teams played physically, making the other team work on every possession for each shot. Going into the game, the two teams were ranked first and second in the nation in goals allowed per game.
By halftime the Irish had opened up a 5-2 lead on Marquette with tallies from freshman attack Ryder Garnsey, senior midfielder Cole Riccardi, junior midfielder Sergio Perkovic and another goal from Kavanagh.
The Golden Eagles came out energized for the second half, however, with three quick goals by sophomore midfielder Tanner Thomson, junior midfielder Griffin Connor and senior attack Henry Nelson, tying things up just six and a half minutes in.
The game would remain close the rest of the way, something that has become all too common for the Irish, with four of their previous five games decided by two goals or less — including two that went into overtime.
“We know that we’re a defensive team first, so that affects maybe some of our style and risk taking where we could score more goals doing some other things,” Corrigan said. “But at the same time, I think we’ve just got to become a more disciplined team offensively.”
Notre Dame would score the next two goals of the game, however, the first one courtesy of a Kavanagh rip from the right-hand side. That tally was followed up by one from sophomore midfielder John Sexton, who picked up a ground ball in the defensive end and sprinted all the way down the field to put one past Marquette’s sophomore goalie Cole Blazer with three seconds left in the quarter.
A scoreless Notre Dame fourth quarter and two additional Golden Eagle tallies set the stage for Kavanagh when play started in overtime.
Still, Irish players and coaches alike weren’t pleased the game came down to the wire.
“I just feel like our execution is not where it needs to be,” Corrigan said. “I don’t think a lot of guys are happy with how we played, but obviously we’re happy with the result. [We have to] come back ready to go next week for North Carolina.”
The Irish now have their longest break of the season before going on the road to take on the No. 11 Tar Heels to close out their ACC slate April 23 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.