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Notre Dame men’s lacrosse drops second straight with loss to UNC

| Monday, April 26, 2021

The Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team dropped their second straight game with a 12-10 loss to No. 4 North Carolina on Sunday, April 25 in Chapel Hill. It was the second game in four days for No. 2 Notre Dame (6-3, 2-3 ACC), as they had lost to Duke by a score of 13-12 in overtime earlier in the week. The game against the Tar Heels (10-2, 3-2 ACC) was also tightly contested throughout, but once again the Irish came up just short.

The first quarter was dominated by the defenses, with each goalie making six saves apiece. Notre Dame junior attacker Griffin Westlin finally broke the deadlock at the 8:57 mark of the first quarter, finding the back of the net after being set up by sophomore attacker Pat Kavanagh. North Carolina responded with two goals of their own, taking a 2-1 lead into the second quarter.

The Irish and the Tar Heels played even in the second quarter, with both sides notching three more goals before halftime. Notre Dame junior midfielder Quinn McCahon leveled the score at two apiece off an assist from Westlin, but, once again, North Carolina came back with two straight goals. Westlin recorded another assist for the Irish, this time to senior midfielder Wheaton Jackoboice, before an unassisted highlight-reel-level goal from Kavanagh tied the game at 4-4. North Carolina scored less than a minute later to take a 5-4 lead heading into the halftime break.

Notre Dame knotted the score at 5-5 just 80 seconds into the second half behind an unassisted goal from graduate student attacker Will Yorke, but North Carolina was then able to create some separation with four straight goals. Jackoboice helped the Irish stop the bleeding with another goal, this time assisted by freshman midfielder Eric Dobson. The teams then traded a few scores, with Kavanagh finding the back of the net for the second time to make the 10-7 after three quarters in favor of UNC.

After another North Carolina goal and facing an 11-7 deficit, Notre Dame scored two straight goals to cut the lead to 11-9 before missing multiple opportunities to cut the difference to one goal. William Perry scored an unassisted goal for the Tar Heels to make the score 12-9, putting the game out of reach for Notre Dame despite Yorke’s second goal — this time assisted by Jackoboice — with 1:08 left in the game.

Kavanagh and Jackoboice led the way for the Irish with two goals and one assist each. Westlin also finished with three points, recording one goal and two assists in the loss.

For Notre Dame, these two losses come on the heels of an upset victory of No. 1 Duke at home. That win had given head coach Kevin Corrigan win No. 311 at Notre Dame, the most for any coach at a single program in Division I history. The upset caused the Irish to rise to the No. 2 spot in the country but following the losses to Duke and UNC, this ranking is sure to drop as they are still in search of win No. 312.

However, with their two losses coming by a combined three goals to the third- and fourth-ranked teams in the country, Notre Dame’s postseason hopes are hardly in jeopardy.

The Irish will return home for their regular-season finale on Saturday, May 1 against Syracuse. They will then turn their attention to the postseason, where they hope to make a run at Notre Dame’s first-ever men’s lacrosse national championship.

Getting a win against Syracuse will be vital for the Irish to build some positive momentum before the NCAA Tournament begins on May 29. The game will begin at 12 p.m. and can be seen in person by a limited number of students or on ESPNU.

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