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Chris Kavanagh leads Notre Dame's celebration after securing a Final Four berth.

Dreams Come True for Chris Kavanagh, Notre Dame in 16-11 Win Over Georgetown

May 18, 2024
Patrick Stevens
Alexis Friedman

HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — Ten years and one day ago, Chris Kavanagh saw his brother Matt score in overtime to send Notre Dame to the NCAA tournament semifinals.

There wasn’t quite as much drama Saturday, but he did play a major role in the Fighting Irish’s latest final four trip.

Kavanagh had five goals and three assists to set a program record for points in a postseason game, faceoff man Will Lynch helped the Irish control possession for much of the day and the Notre Dame defense bottled up Georgetown’s biggest threats until the final 10 minutes, as the top-seeded Irish surged to a 16-11 victory in the NCAA quarterfinals.

“I was a little 10-year-old coming here in 2014 when my brother scored the winning goal against Albany, so going onto the field yesterday was pretty high nerves,” Kavanagh said. “It was pretty crazy bussing into Hofstra. … It’s everything a kid dreams of. It’s all I thought of as a kid, playing here, and it happened today.”

Tewaaraton Award finalist Pat Kavanagh added three goals and an assist for Notre Dame (14-1), which never trailed as it earned its seventh trip to the semifinals, all since 2001.

Notre Dame will face fourth-seeded Syracuse or fifth-seeded Denver next Saturday in Philadelphia.

Graham Bundy Jr. scored five goals in the fourth quarter for the eighth-seeded Hoyas (13-4), who have lost in the quarterfinals in three of the last four seasons and in 10 consecutive quarterfinal appearances dating back to 2000. That ties UMass (1976-05) for the longest quarterfinal skid in tournament history.

“If I could find that answer and Google it, it’d be really easy,” Georgetown coach Kevin Warne said. “You have to give yourself a chance, and we’re giving ourselves a chance. … I think we’re in a really good place, and I think we have some foundational pieces the way the program is constructed and getting the right guys to come here. Sooner or later, we’ll make it happen.”

Georgetown is the only team to defeat the Irish since the start of last May, earning an 11-10 win on Feb. 25 on Aidan Carroll’s overtime winner in South Bend. That couldn’t have sat well with Notre Dame, which has won 12 in a row. A lackluster first half in last weekend’s NCAA tournament opener, a 14-9 victory over Albany, probably didn’t either.

Chris Kavanagh made an impact from the opening minute, collecting a ground ball off a turnover right after the opening faceoff and then assisting on Devon McLane’s goal 53 seconds in. He scored on a wide-open look against Anderson Moore (eight saves) after Jake Taylor slipped a pass to him on the doorstep, and he tacked on the Irish’s first two goals of the second quarter as Notre Dame built a 7-2 halftime lead.

Kavanagh also scored unassisted goals late in the end of the third quarter and early in the fourth to secure leads of 11-4 and 12-5.

Notre Dame’s previous record for points in an NCAA tournament game was seven, shared by program luminaries Tom Glatzel (2000 first round against Loyola), Matt Kavanagh (2014 semifinals against Maryland) and Pat Kavanagh (2023 first round against Utah).

A sea of Notre Dame green at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium.
A sea of Notre Dame green at Hofstra's Shuart Stadium.
Alexis Friedman

“Not much,” Chris Kavanagh said of the meaning of the record. “It’s a credit to my teammates on the offensive end. I was just on the other side of scoring goals.”

A postseason star a year ago, Lynch entered with a .606 faceoff percentage and largely had his way with Georgetown’s reserves. James Ball, who left Georgetown’s first-round defeat of Penn State, was dressed but had his lower left leg heavily wrapped and took only one second-half attempt.

Lynch won 21 of 26 draws against a rotation of four Hoyas, and Notre Dame shrewdly worked the shot clock, especially in the second half, tolimit any chance of a Georgetown comeback while also wearing down a Hoyas defense that held up well in settled situations in the first half.

The Irish effectively locked up the victory in a six-second burst. Defenseman Marco Napolitano fired in a 45-yarder off a routine pass from Liam Entenmann with 9:15 to go, and Lynch scored off the ensuing faceoff to make it 14-6.

Georgetown shot just 4-for-23 in the first three quarters.

“Our defense is really built on unselfishness, and I think that’s really important,” Entenmann said. “When there was five minutes left, things kind of started to unravel, but for the first 55 minutes of the game, there was hardly any shots on goal for me. They were giving me shots I wanted to see. Everyone buys in. Everyone plays for each other. No one cares who takes the credit. Having those guys in front of me is incredible.”

While the Irish move on to pursue a second consecutive national title, the loss was a frustrating finish to an otherwise strong season for Georgetown. Bundy was the only one of the Hoyas’ top six goal scorers to return from last year’s NCAA quarterfinalist, and a revamped offense grew as the year went along as Georgetown earned its sixth consecutive Big East tournament title.

Bundy departs as one of the program’s all-time greats. He finished with 158 career goals, passing Daniel Bucaro for second place in school history in the fourth quarter. He is also the only Hoya with four 30-goal seasons.

“We’ve always been striving for that Memorial Day Weekend [trip], and so many years of just working that hard and coming up so close but just a bit short is disappointing,” Bundy said. “I look back and am just proud I wore a Georgetown jersey.”

There was pride on the opposite sideline, too. Entenmann spoke of watching the final four from his couch, in the wake of both a postseason loss or an exclusion. Understandably, he found it much more enjoyable to be part of the action last year.

Now, the Irish go back again, another title just two victories away.

“They’re No. 1 for a reason,” Warne said. “They’ve been on a tear since our first game. I wish them the best of luck next week in Philly. I would not be surprised if they’re holding the trophy again after watching them live today.”