Notre Dame opens season with resounding win over Robert Morris
Grant DelVecchio | Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Almost a whole year after their 2020 season was canceled, the No. 8 Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team opened up the 2021 season with a dominant 19-7 victory over Robert Morris. For Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan, who picked up his 306th win in his 33rd season in South Bend, this one was especially rewarding.
“It was just so good to see our guys, who seemed to really look like they were enjoying being out there, and to realize all of the work that so many people did to allow our students to be here and to allow our athletes to continue to participate,” Corrigan said. “I wanted to share that with a lot of people. You always feel some sense of gratitude, but Saturday was particularly acute.”
The Irish (1-0) had a lot to celebrate, as 13 different players scored in the game. Standout sophomore attack Pat Kavanagh, younger brother of former Irish legend Matt Kavanagh, wreaked havoc on the Colonials’ (2-3) defensive unit. Kavanagh tied the Notre Dame all-time records for points in a game with nine and assists with seven. Junior midfielder Quinn McCahon led the team in goals with three.
The 19 goals were the most the team has scored since the 2019 season opening victory over Detroit Mercy, and, according to Corrigan, a testament to the unselfishness of this year’s team.
“I’m excited about the effort of the whole team,” he said. “I don’t think it’s a time to single out anybody because I think what got us to where we were and what I think is the thing for us is that we’re not going to be a team of superstars, we’re going to be a team of a lot of really good lacrosse players who play really well together and very selflessly for each other and with each other. In the end I think that’s a huge piece of our identity and will hold us in good stead, so I don’t think I need to single anybody out at this point.”
Notre Dame’s defensive unit was just as impressive as the offense, letting up just seven goals to a Colonials team that had averaged 14.7 goals per game in their previous three and is more impressive than their record may suggest.
In their own season opener, Robert Morris led No. 1 Duke 5-2 in the first half before losing in a close game 16-12. The next week, the Colonials lost to High Point, another top-20 team, by just six. Enter Notre Dame, and you have the Colonials’ first double-digit loss of the season.
Sophomore goalie Liam Entenmann had a lot to do with the Colonials’ offensive struggles, picking up 10 saves and allowing five goals in just his sixth career start. The former Chaminade High School star proved again why he’s started every game in net since arriving on campus as a first-year.
In the face-off circle, the Irish tandem of graduate students Kyle Gallagher and Charlie Leonard was nearly flawless. Gallagher, a 2020 Preseason All-ACC selection and transfer from University of Pennsylvania, finished 13-of-15 in the circle with 11 ground balls. Leonard added nine of 12 face-off wins and six ground balls of his own.
Gallagher is one of five total graduate transfers on this Irish team, and each one had an immediate impact in the season opening win. Kyle Thornton, also a transfer from University of Pennsylvania, led the close defense with three caused turnovers. Midfielders David Lipka from Syracuse and Sean Leahey from Providence, as well as attack Will Yorke from Bucknell, each scored their first goals in an Irish uniform.
“I think it says more about the team than anything, the fact that those guys could come in and be accepted and be challenged,” Corrigan said. “You could tell the excitement that our guys had for anybody to make a play. There was no ’us and them’ or anything like that, on our sideline it was all [about] us. I think that’s partly a result of leadership, I think it’s the result of the character of the kids on our team, and I think it’s a result of the selfless attitude of this team that’s been apparent from day one.”
Midfielder Eric Dobson and attack Bryce Walker, both first-years, and sophomore midfielder Nick Harris also picked up the first goals of their college careers.
The win moved Notre Dame to 34-7 all-time in season openers and 28-5 under Corrigan. Corrigan, the longest tenured active Division I lacrosse coach, is now just four wins shy of tying former Delaware head coach Bob Shillinglaw for the most wins all-time at a single school at the D1 level. The Irish are hoping to reach the NCAA tournament for the 15th straight season, and this win certainly helped that cause.
Next up, the Irish host Bellarmine at Arlotta Stadium on March 6 at 4 p.m. It can be viewed on the ACC Network Extra.