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Men’s Lacrosse

Irish men’s lacrosse wins instant classic against No. 4 Maryland

| Monday, March 6, 2023

When two great teams face off in sports, it’s often difficult for either to gain any separation from their opponent. When No. 2 Notre Dame men’s lacrosse went on the road to face No. 4 Maryland on Saturday, it was nearly impossible.

A late Irish comeback in the final minutes of regulation sent the game into a four-minute, sudden-death, overtime period. But neither side was able to find the back of the net, and the game went into a second overtime, then a third. Finally, after nearly 70 minutes of lacrosse, a goal from Notre Dame senior attacker Pat Kavanagh broke the stalemate. He sent the Irish home with a 13-12 statement win over the defending national champions.

After his team emerged from what may have been the game of the year in men’s lacrosse, Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan discussed the experience of playing in a hard-fought duel between two of the nation’s best teams.

“You love being in a game like that,” Corrigan said. “There’s some part of you that [feels like] – win, lose or draw – it’s awesome just to be part of a big game and a good environment.”

That being said, he was pleased to see the Irish come out on top against a Maryland team that had defeated them in the programs’ previous three matchups.

“The difference is so thin between winning or losing that game, and yet, the way that you feel [after] is so different,” Corrigan said. “Let’s not kid ourselves: losing stinks, winning feels really good. So as much as it was fun to be part of it, it was most fun because we won.”

Getting that win required a tenacious effort from Notre Dame, as the Terrapins came out of the gates determined to be the aggressor. Maryland jumped out to a 1-0 advantage, marking the first time this season that the Irish have failed to score the opening goal. Notre Dame responded with three straight scores in a span of fewer than two minutes. However,  Maryland erased that Irish lead, rattling off a 3-0 run of their own. Maryland outshot the Irish 19-5 in the first quarter. While senior goalie Liam Entenmann performed admirably, posting five saves in the period, the massive shot deficit was too large to overcome. Maryland led 4-3 after the opening period.

The rest of the game would feature similar intensity and back-and-forth play, with neither side leading by more than two at any point. Five more saves from Entenmann helped the Irish shut out Maryland in the second quarter. A pair of goals from junior attacker Bryce Walker and graduate student midfielder Brian Tevlin gave Notre Dame a slim 5-4 halftime advantage.

The second half continued the trend of mini-runs. The Terrapins regained the lead with two goals to start the third quarter, but the Irish came right back with three straight scores. Two of those goals came from graduate student midfielder Jack Simmons. A transfer from Virginia, Simmons gave Notre Dame an 8-6 lead late in the third.

But Maryland would seize back control, scoring six of the next eight goals while showcasing the talent that guided them to an undefeated national title run last year. When the Terrapins’ Daniel Maltz scored twice to give Maryland a 12-10 advantage with under four minutes to play, they appeared to be in a position to hand the Irish their first loss. Corrigan remained confident in his veteran team, though, knowing they just needed to execute in order to quickly close the gap.

“We work on those situations and they understand what’s needed,” Corrigan said about Notre Dame’s late-game play. “Really, it’s just a matter of guys making plays.”

The Irish did just that. Senior midfielder Reilly Gray scored to trim the deficit to one, and sophomore attacker Chris Kavanagh’s third goal of the afternoon tied the score at 12-12 with less than two minutes remaining. Maryland had another opportunity to score, but the Irish defense stepped up, sending the game into sudden death overtime. The Irish offense failed to score in each of the first two overtime periods, requiring the defense to continually stifle a high-powered Terrapin attack. They came through in big moments, and Maryland did not score in the final 13 minutes and 44 seconds of game time.

“Our whole defensive unit really came up big in the last 15 minutes of the game. Through the end of regulation and then into overtime, they didn’t give up many great shots, and Liam [Entenmann] was able to handle anything they threw at him,” Corrigan said. “It was impressive.”

When it started to feel like the game might never end, the Irish looked to their other Kavanagh brother to finish things off. Midway through the third overtime, Pat Kavanagh streaked across the field and scored the game-winner from a distance, sending the Irish into celebration after sealing one of the program’s biggest wins in recent memory.

Teams look for players that are at their best in clutch situations. After the Kavanaghs combined to score the tying and winning goals, it’s clear Notre Dame has two of those primetime players.

“The only thing better than having a Kavanagh on your team is having two of them,” Corrigan said. “They live for those moments, they’re unafraid of those big moments. But they don’t just ignore everybody and play for themselves. They just are tough and aggressive and make the appropriate play in those big moments, and that’s what you saw [on Saturday].”

With the win, the Irish improve to 4-0 on the season. Having defeated Georgetown on the road the previous weekend, Notre Dame has now earned wins against two opponents that they lost to last year. To Corrigan, that improvement began in the preseason and has not stopped in the months since.

“This team has been united from the fall. [They’ve been] working really hard, playing hard with and for each other and haven’t taken anything for granted,” Corrigan said. “I think the key is that we’ve got some depth. We’ve got talent at every position, and the guys are working really hard to make it work.”

The Irish were part of a special game on Saturday. By winning, they marked themselves as clear national title contenders. They will look to keep pushing forward and remain on that trajectory when they return home to face No. 8 Ohio State on Saturday.

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