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Irish seek top-15 road win in Durham

| Thursday, April 7, 2022

The no. 13 Irish men’s lacrosse team (3-4, 1-1 ACC) will travel to Durham, North Carolina this weekend to face the no. 15 Duke Blue Devils (9-4, 1-1 ACC) in a crucial ACC game that has huge implications for the ACC standings and the NCAA Lacrosse Championships.

The Irish are coming off their strongest performance of the season last weekend. They dismantled a solid Syracuse team 22-6. Head coach Kevin Corrigan thought his team put together its best complete game of the season.

“We put all the pieces of the game together. We faced off well, played defense well, got ground balls well, moved the ball well and cleared well. There were a lot of good things,” Corrigan said.

Before Saturday’s game, the Irish offense had struggled mightily all season to score. But Saturday saw ten different Irish players score en route to a dominating Irish victory.

The entire offense was efficient and potent throughout the game. But junior attacker Jake Taylor was the main storyline on the day. In his first career start, Taylor scored eight goals off of just ten shots. In doing so, he set the program record for goals scored in a single game. Taylor clearly cemented himself in the lineup for the time being. And the Irish will depend on his goal-scoring ability this weekend in Durham.

Junior attacker Pat Kavanagh was a big reason for Taylor’s success. He had six assists on the day and scored three goals as well.

Corrigan discussed how great of a teammate Kavanagh is and how well the offense gels around him: “He keeps the offense moving. With all the points he had, the ball didn’t sit in his stick too much and that’s when he’s at his best, and that’s when our offense is at its best when the ball is in his stick. I felt really good about the way he played and the way he played as a teammate.”

Corrigan also praised Kavanagh for his ability to find his teammates in goal scoring situations.

“We have a lot of guys doing really good things and he is a guy who is going to have points when we play well because he’s skilled in that way. When the ball is moving and the defense is moving, he knows how to get the ball to the right guy,” Corrigan said.

Duke will undoubtedly be a huge challenge for the Irish. Although the Blue Devils have dropped a couple of games as of late, they came into the season highly touted. Duke has some of the most talent in the country on both sides of the ball. They are also coming off of arguably their most impressive performance of the season where they thrashed rival North Carolina last weekend in Chapel Hill by a 15-6 scoreline.

It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the Blue Devils this year though. Syracuse upset them 14-10 just two weeks ago. And they also had a surprising loss to Loyola Maryland earlier in March.

No matter what Duke team the Irish see on Saturday, their defense will have to be ready for a Duke offense that is led by Brennan O’Neill, who has 42 goals on the year. The Irish will need to replicate their performance from last weekend where they disrupted Syracuse’s offense all game and took away their strengths at attack.

The Irish have played a lot of close games this year. But they have come up short against some of the nation’s top lacrosse teams such as Maryland, Virginia, Ohio State and Georgetown. Corrigan praised his team’s ability to stay poised despite these close losses and to continue to have confidence in themselves.

“I haven’t seen any loss of faith in our guys, but obviously a lot of tension because we just haven’t gotten results,” Corrigan said. “I don’t think we have played a bad game yet, but I don’t think we have played great. There were areas of the game where we didn’t necessarily play well, but we haven’t played a bad game.”

The Irish will need to play well in all aspects of the game this weekend in Durham to win. The Irish are currently tied for second with the Blue Devils in the ACC standings. The winner will be in a great position for an ACC tournament bye and make the NCAA Lacrosse Championships.

Saturday’s game from Durham will begin at 1 p.m. EST.

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About Nate Moller

Nate is a junior majoring in chemical engineering. He is originally from a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota and is currently living in Siegfried Hall. Some of his passions include running, cross country skiing, and getting too worked up about Notre Dame and Minnesota sports teams.

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