Going into last weekend, the future of the 2018 Notre Dame Fighting Irish men’s lacrosse team was murky at best.
#16 Notre Dame had a 6-5 record (1-3 in the ACC) and had lost four of their last six matches. They needed a big weekend at the 2018 ACC Tournament in Charlottesville, Virginia to increase their odds of making the NCAA Tournament.
And boy did they have a big weekend.
On Friday, the Irish upset #1 Duke Blue Devils 14-11 in the semifinals to punch their ticket to the ACC Championship Game that Sunday against the #11 Virginia Cavaliers. In the title game, Notre Dame dominated Virginia 17-7 to win their second ACC conference championship in program history. Their first came in 2014.
This was the second meeting between Notre Dame and Duke (12-3) this season. In the previous matchup back on April 7th, the Blue Devils defeated the Irish 8-2 in South Bend.
Ryder Garnsey scored two goals within the first five minutes of the game to give Notre Dame an early 2-0 lead. Duke cut the lead to one with a goal from Justin Guterding with 6:21 left in the first quarter.
The second quarter featured the Bryan Costabile show. Within 2:14 of game time, Costabile recorded a natural hat trick with three goals to give the Irish a 5-1 lead with 9:18 left in the half.
Costabile finished off the hat trick in style.
After another Duke goal, Mikey Wynne scored his 15th goal of the season to reestablish Notre Dame’s four goal lead with 3:40 left in the second quarter. Duke was able to get two goals within the last minute of the quarter to make the score 6-4 at halftime.
Just 38 seconds into the third quarter, Brendan Gleason’s 13th goal of the season gave Notre Dame a 7-4 lead. From then on, however, the rest of the third quarter belonged to Duke. Over the next 7:32 of game time, the Blue Devils scored three goals to tie the score at 7-7 with 5:42 remaining in the third frame. The Irish were able to retake the lead before the quarter ended, however, when Gleason scored his second goal of the game to give Notre Dame an 8-7 lead with one second left before the final frame.
Garnsey completed his own hat trick when he scored his third goal of the game to give Notre Dame a 9-7 lead with 12:33 remaining in regulation. Over the next 3:11, however, Duke would go on another three goal run, this time grabbing the lead with 9:22 left in regulation.
After that, though, it was all Notre Dame.
Wynne scored with 7:44 remaining to tie the score. After that, Garnsey recorded his fourth and fifth goals of the game to give the Irish a 12-10 lead with 2:50 remaining in regulation. Brian Willetts then scored on the man advantage to give Notre Dame a 13-10 lead with 1:52 left in the game. After Duke cut their deficit to two, Gleason clinched the victory with 27 seconds remaining with his third goal of the game.
Three Irish players recorded hat tricks on the afternoon. Garnsey finished the game with five goals and one assist. Gleason turned in three goals along with three assists, while Costabile finished with three goals and one assist. Notre Dame goaltender Matt Schmidt recorded 10 saves on 21 shots.
The upset win over Duke propelled Notre Dame into the ACC Championship Game against host Virginia, where the Irish made quite the entrance.
After Virginia took an early 1-0 lead, Notre Dame responded with three straight goals (two from Costabile, one from Willetts) to take a 3-1 lead. Virginia was able to get one back right before the first quarter ended to make the score 3-2.
In the second quarter, goals from Garnsey and Brendan Collins pushed Notre Dame’s lead to 5-2. After the Cavaliers scored on the man-advantage, the Irish blew the game open, scoring the next six goals.
The run started when Pierre Byrne scored his seventh goal of the season with 2:58 left in the first half. Less than a minute later, Wynne scored on the man-advantage. With 1:09 left before halftime, Timmy Phillips scored his first goal of the season to give the Irish an 8-3 lead going into halftime.
Just 18 seconds into the second quarter, Wynne scored another man-up goal to extend Notre Dame’s lead to six. Goals by Costabile and Garnsey made the score 11-3 in Notre Dame’s favor with 9:39 left in the third quarter.
Virginia was able to record three of the next four goals of the game to make the score 12-6, but that was about as close as they would get. Byrne’s second goal of the game made it 13-6 with 30 seconds left in the third quarter. After Virginia scored early in the fourth, goals by Brendan Collins, Brian Willetts, Jordan Walter and Ryder Garnsey put an exclamation point on an impressive 10-goal victory for Notre Dame.
The team started mobbing each other on the field as time expired to celebrate their second ACC conference championship in program history. It was a great ending to what was a tumultuous month for the Irish.
Garnsey recorded three goals and two assists during the title game. Costabile turned in three goals and an assist, while Willetts finished with three goals himself. It was the second straight game three Notre Dame players each finished with hat tricks. Costabile was awarded the tournament’s Most Valuable Player Award.
Byrne, Collins and Wynne each chipped in two goals. Goaltender Matt Schmidt recorded 8 saves on 15 shots.
— Notre Dame Lacrosse (@NDlacrosse) May 1, 2018
Check out the full highlights to our impressive 17-7 win over UVA to win the ACC Championship title! Then make plans to come see us close out the regular season at Arlotta at 1 PM on Saturday! #GoIrish pic.twitter.com/lTN5QPFQHY
Notre Dame will play their last regular season game this Saturday afternoon when they host the Army Black Knights at 1 p.m. at Arlotta Stadium.