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Chris Kavanagh and Pat Kavanagh have lifted Notre Dame to history the past two seasons.

Chris and Pat Kavanagh Added History to Family Legacy at Notre Dame

May 31, 2024
Matt Hamilton
Mike Tripp

PHILADELPHIA — In the moments following the final horn and Notre Dame men’s lacrosse erupting in celebration of another national title, Pat and Chris Kavanagh could be found peering around Lincoln Financial Field.

First, the Kavanagh brothers looked for one another after playing on the same team for the final time in their collegiate careers. They united as players jumped on goalie Liam Entenmann.

Some 50 yards away, ESPN’s Paul Carcaterra asked Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan about the impact of his two Kavanaghs.

“There’s such joy in what they do,” he said as he choked up. “They’re great teammates, great competitors, great kids.”

After being whisked away for interviews with ESPN, the NCAA and countless media outlets, the Kavanaghs scanned the crowd, where the rest of the family stood in the front row.

Mary Kavanagh — the woman who helped raise Pat, Chris and three siblings and who was wearing a green shirt with the numbers 50 and 51 emblazoned on the back — was the first to make her way onto the grass.

Quickly, Chris Kavanagh found his mother, jogged across the field and gave her and hug.

“Way to play,” she told him after he dropped five goals. “You played your heart out.”

A few minutes later, Pat Kavanagh made his way to his mother, who had her phone lined up for a selfie with her two-time national champion son.

“I love you,” she said as she hugged him.

Over the next 30 minutes, the Kavanagh family took photos with Notre Dame players, staff and alumni. The moment was a visual reminder of the impact that one family has had on an entire college lacrosse program — from Matt Kavanagh’s illustrious career from 2013-16 to the past two seasons with Pat and Chris.

In 2023, Notre Dame exorcised its demons and won its first national championship thanks to a heroic effort from Pat Kavanagh on an injured hamstring. A year later, it was Chris Kavanagh leading the way en route to being named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player. Pat Kavanagh was content with dishing six assists.

After the confetti rested on the grass in Philadelphia, and Notre Dame had gleefully filtered off the field, none of those stats mattered to the Kavanaghs.

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For Pat and Chris, and the rest of one of lacrosse’s favorite families, it’s always been about each other.

“He’s been my best friend my entire life,” Pat Kavanagh said of Chris. “To do this the past four years with him, and then to win back-to-back national championships with my little brother
and best friend since he was born, it’s incredible.”

“I’m proud of Pat,” Chris Kavanagh told Carcaterra on ESPN. “I’m so proud of him. You couldn’t put it together any better than this. It’s an unbelievable feeling.”

Monday’s NCAA finale was the final college lacrosse game that featured two Kavanagh brothers, and Pat and Chris made sure fans won’t forget their impact on Notre Dame’s program any time soon.

Pat Kavanagh stood at X for much of Notre Dame’s 15-5 throttling of Maryland, picking apart the Terps defense and finding open shooters. His six assists were a program NCAA tournament record. Two of them were to his brother.

Late in the second quarter, Notre Dame’s offense had all the momentum when Pat Kavanagh stood at goal line extended and looked left of the cage. He sent a whizzing pass to the right hand of his brother, who rotated around his defender and fired a backhand rocket to the top-right corner — the highlight of the day and maybe even the entire tournament.

The origin of these highlight plays comes from the Rockville Centre, N.Y., backyard that the Kavanagh brothers shared. There, they’d practice the same trick shots they brought with them to South Bend.

“Whenever we pick up a stick, mess around on Arlotta or growing up on Long Island, we were always just practicing stuff like that,” Pat Kavanagh said. “Me and Chris looked up to the Thompson brothers when we were growing up. We wanted to steal some tricks out of their bag. They were a joy to watch.”

“Pat said it best,” Chris Kavanagh answered. In true fashion, following in his brother’s footsteps.

The legacy that the Kavanaghs have left on Notre Dame has been legendary, but it’s not over. Chris Kavanagh will return to South Bend for his senior season in 2025, looking to lead Notre Dame to a three-peat next Memorial Day weekend.

However, he said he wasn’t ready to move forward from his time with his brother just yet. Chris Kavanagh brought photos of him and his brother onto the bus for the ride from their Philadelphia hotel to Lincoln Financial Field. The ride was short, but enough for him to reflect on the historic run and the moments he’ll cherish forever.

“I was looking at the pictures of me and Pat when I was a freshman and sophomore and crying for 25 minutes knowing it was my last game with 51,” Chris Kavanagh said. “He’s one of the best players, if not the best player, to ever play for Notre Dame.”

Those tears turned to smiles as the confetti fell and the Kavanaghs hoisted the NCAA championship trophy. The Kavanagh family — including siblings Brendan, Colleen and Matt and father, Kevin — were the last members of the Notre Dame contingent on the field taking photos. They wanted to milk the remaining time left in what is an unprecedented run for Notre Dame lacrosse, and for their family.

Next season can wait a few weeks while the Kavanaghs celebrate another title.