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Notre Dame attackman Chris Kavanagh (50) sprints past Maryland long pole Will SchallerHear how to pronounce Will Schaller in NCAA championship game action at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

Notre Dame Dominates Maryland to Claim Second Straight NCAA Championship

May 27, 2024
Matt DaSilva
Rich Barnes

It took Notre Dame 35 years to win its first national championship. Victory tasted so good the Fighting Irish just had to come back for seconds.

Playing with an air of inevitability, top-seeded Notre Dame defeated seventh-seeded Maryland 15-5 in the NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse championship game Monday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia.

“I haven’t done it often enough, only twice in 36 years,” coach Kevin Corrigan told ESPN’s Paul Carcaterra after the players caught him by surprise with a Gatorade shower. “It takes some getting used to.”

Save for an opening two-goal salvo that followed a two-hour weather delay, the Terrapins never stood a chance.  The Fighting Irish dominated every phase of the game.

The Kavanagh brothers again owned the sport’s biggest stage. Chris Kavanagh scored five goals and Tewaaraton Award finalist — dare we say favorite — Pat Kavanagh doled out six assists.

“We just have so much talent on our team,” Pat Kavanagh said on ESPN. “We roll three midfield lines. No other team in college lacrosse can say they do that. We have so much talent all over the field. Everyone’s so unselfish. Everyone took the next step this year to another level.”

Notre Dame indeed flashed its midfield depth. All three lines contributed. They accounted for eight goals, including five of the first six.

Maryland’s five goals tied its season low. The Terrapins’ offensive woes were well documented this spring. They appeared to resolve their issues, averaging 14 goals per game in NCAA tournament wins over Princeton, Duke and Virginia to reach the final.

But Notre Dame, the only team in the country boasting a top-five scoring offense and defense, frustrated Maryland’s ball carriers and forced them to settle for low-percentage shots that helped goalie Liam Entenmann find his footing.

At one point late in the second quarter, the Terrapins had as many turnovers (10) as they did shots on goal. Also a Tewaaraton Award finalist, Entenmann finished with 16 saves.

Conversely, the Fighting Irish couldn’t miss. They scored seven unanswered goals to take a 10-3 lead. Chris Kavanagh punctuated a second-quarter hat trick with a backhand beauty off a feed from Pat Kavanagh and then Pat Kavanagh found Reilly Gray for a goal that stretched the lead to seven.

Maryland converted an extra-man opportunity to end a scoreless drought of nearly 20 minutes just before halftime but continued to struggle to generate quality looks in the second half. About the only thing going well for the Terrapins was the faceoff. Luke Wierman finished 17-for-22, outdueling Will Lynch in a battle of All-Americans.

The rout was on after Jordan Faison — the two-sport sensation who was the Sun Bowl MVP for Notre Dame’s football team in the fall — grabbed his own rebound and scored it behind the back to make it 11-4.

Chris Kavanagh added two more goals in the third quarter.

“He’s so good. I love playing with him,” Pat Kavanagh said of his younger brother, the Fighting Irish’s leading scorer with 44 goals and 37 assists this season. “He’s an incredible scorer, but this year he put it all together. He took the bull by the horns and showed the whole toolkit.”

“There’s so much joy in what they do,” Corrigan said of the Kavanaghs, whose older brother, Matt, was a four-time All-American at Notre Dame but fell short of winning a national title. “Great teammates. Great competitors. Great kids.”

Pat Kavanagh and Entenmann are among 14 graduate students who suited up for the Fighting Irish this spring. Notre Dame also had 11 natural seniors who arrived on campus after the pandemic.

Many of those 25 players will graduate as two-time national champions, as the Fighting Irish became the first team in a decade to win NCAA titles in consecutive years.

“What our senior leadership did to take this team from this day last year to today was something really magical,” Corrigan said. “I don’t know how you put something like this in perspective other than I could not be more proud of these guys.”