For the Notre Dame men's lacrosse team, it seems that the third time is a charm.
Matt Kavanagh had five goals and two assists and goalie Conor Kelly had 14 saves as Notre Dame defeated Maryland 11-6 to advance to Monday's National Championship game against Duke.
The Irish were in control for the entire contest, led by Kavanagh. The 2nd Team All-American scored two of the Irish's first three goals of the game and got the better of Maryland defenseman Goran Murray, who handled Kavanagh in the regular season matchup of the two teams.
At the other end of the field, Irish goalie Conor Kelly had what is quite possibly the game of his life. The much-maligned Irish net-minder saved 14 Maryland shots, a majority of them point blank. The first shot on-goal he faced clanged off his helmet, and served as a precursor for the rest of the afternoon. Maryland tried shooting off-shoulder, behind the back, 15-yards out, on crease. Nothing worked. Kelly was a force, and was aided by the Irish defense, who effectively shut down Maryland's efficient offense.
Also helping the Irish was Maryland's loss of Charlie Raffa. The Terp face-off specialist went down early in the contest with what looked like a hip injury, and the Irish took advantage. Instead of utilizing Liam O'Connor, like Irish Head Coach Kevin Corrigan did in the first two match ups, the task fell to Nick Ossello, who capitalized on jamming Raffa and his counterpart. Ossello also added two scores for the Irish.
Irish attackmen John Scioscia (2G, 0A) and Conor Doyle (1G, 3A) kept the Maryland defense preoccupied as the Terps really struggled to get any momentum going on the day.
Irish middie Nick Cotter also added a goal for the Irish.
With the win, the Irish play on Monday, Memorial Day, against a familiar foe in Duke. The All-ACC Final is a rematch of the 2010 NCAA Lacrosse Championship, where Duke upended the Irish 6-5 in overtime.
The two teams faced each other earlier in the year, with the Blue Devils beating the Irish 15-7 in South Bend.