Men's Lacrosse: Irish defeat Syracuse 15-14 to win ACC Championship

Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

Irish earn automatic NCAA bid; Kavanagh, Marlatt and Doyle with multiple goal game; Kelly with 7 saves to earn the win.

The Notre Dame Men's Lacrosse team has been called many things this season. Lucky, unfortunate, dominant, confusing.

They can be called something else now: ACC Champions.

Matt Kavanagh scored 4 goals and added 2 assists and goalie Conor Kelly had 7 saves as the Irish defeated Syracuse, 15-14,  to win the ACC in their first year in the conference.

The Irish, picked to finish second-to-last in the ACC in the preseason, defied the doubters with a gutsy win on a Sunday afternoon in Philadelphia.

Like their close semifinal win over Maryland, the Irish kept things close to the chest, focusing on fundamentals and minimizing mistakes.

It helped that the Irish's best players unleashed the fury against the Orange, too.

Kavanagh, held without a goal in the first meeting between the Irish and the Orange a month ago, went off this time around, showcasing the speed and moves that has earned him a spot in the final 28 for the Tewaaraton Trophy.

The Irish attackman did not start the game and didn't see action until the 9-minute mark of the first quarter for a violation of team rules.  When he entered the game though, it changed the dynamic.

Syracuse's longsticks struggled to defend Kavanagh's moves on goal-line extended and paid the price for it.

When Syracuse tried to slide early to counteract Kavanagh's move, he dished it up top and garnered a pair of assists.

Outside of Kavanagh, Conor Doyle (2g, 3a) and Jim Marlatt (3g, 1a) showed why they are considered the top 3 of the Irish offense, and built off the momentum they gained in their win against Maryland.

Conor Kelly was stellar in net.  Despite the 14 goals against, a handful of his 7 saves were point-blank and game-saving, including Syracuse's final desperation shot on net that Kelly saved.  With the ball safely in his goalie stick, Kelly hopped up and down and ran to the far side of the field, celebrating with his teammates.

Kelly earned All-ACC Tournament honors as well, joining Conor Doyle, Stephen O'Hara and ACC Tournament MVP Matt Kavanagh.

The win is the Irish's second-straight over an ACC opponent and the second-straight win over an opponent that the Irish lost to in the regular season.

With the bid guaranteed, the Irish can relax for just a little bit.  They play host to Army on May 3 in a warm-up game for the NCAA Tournament. Army, at 9-4 on the season, is likely shut-out of the NCAA tournament but with their 4 losses all by one-goal each (including a 7-6 defeat to Loyola), they are not to be taken lightly.

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