I am sure I sound like a broken record, but we have talked so much around the losses from last year and how this year’s Irish have been motivated by them and also motivated by the NCAA tournament snub. And as the 2023 Notre Dame lacrosse schedule was released, we looked at the early three game gauntlet comprised of Georgetown, Maryland and Ohio State and there was payback on our minds the minute the schedule came out. We knew how important those three would be to the team’s mindset and to how the committee would view the Irish come the end of this season. Well......3-0 and STATEMENT. MADE. TIMES. THREE.
Coming into Saturday, Notre Dame had lost three straight times to Ohio State. Last year’s matchup had some questionable calls from the officials, one of them being a goal they gave to OSU after the buzzer had sounded. That win propelled the Buckeyes into the NCAA tournament and ultimately was one of the data points the committee talked about when they denied the Irish. This year’s contest, although close at halftime with the Irish holding a 5-2 edge, was absolutely DOMINATED by Notre Dame in the second half as we outscored them 11-1 to finish off with a 16-3 final. As we do each week, let’s take a look at how it all unfolded. Oh and btw, no way the Irish were losing with both Ross Burgmaster and Brian Tevlin playing the bagpipes to lead us onto the field.
The Irish took an early 1-0 lead with a goal from Eric Dobson before the Buckeyes tied things up a couple of minutes later. There was a lot of good back and forth across the quarter with the Irish getting goals from Chris Kavanagh and Bryce Walker to take a 3-1 lead after one.
Chris Kavanagh got his second of the day a couple of minutes into the quarter before Ohio State got one back to make it 4-2. Jack Simmons then got his fifth goal of the year taking it from X and beating his man coming around the cage for a bouncer to make it 5-2 as we headed into the break. And wanted to make note that OSU had the ball down 4-2 and had a few chances to get it to within 4-3, but Liam Entenmann came up huge with three separate saves to keep the two goal lead. Additionally, just before the half, Liam came up huge with a save to keep it at 5-2 rather than 5-3. It was a really great performance from our All-American goalie as he continues to prove out that he is the best in the college game. Here is a great interview with Liam as he sat down with Quint Kessenich on his podcast this week.
This period was all Irish as we outscored the Buckeyes 7-0 to take a 12-2 lead into the final frame. Awesome job by Will Lynch as he really took control of the faceoffs across the third. From a scoring perspective, Dobson got the first two, followed up by Quinn McCahon and Griffin Westlin. The last three came from Chris Kavanagh, Jake Taylor and Pat Kavanagh (with about 2 seconds left in the quarter). And yes, you heard right, Jake Taylor is on the board this year as he scored on the man up unit by way of highlight reel passes from Pat and Chris Kavanagh. More on Jake as we get into our Some Thoughts and Notes section.
Dobson got the scoring going with his fourth of the day on a rocket from up top to make it 13-2 before OSU got one back to make it 13-3. The final three goals came from Pat Kavanagh (great hustle play from the Irish to cause a turnover and get an easy look for Pat), Tevlin and Fulton Bayman (nice move from behind the cage to come around and score from goal line extended on a wraparound). That last goal put the final score at 16-3 as the Irish played their most complete game of the year and continue to fire on all cylinders moving to 5-0 overall.
Some Notes and Thoughts
Let’s start with the defense and the goaltending. Once again, championship caliber on all levels from the Irish. It starts with the game from Liam as he played so well and was in control all afternoon. Once again, the saves he made when the Irish were up 4-2 were huge as a goal there could be a complete game and momentum changer. At SSDM, I am more and more impressed each game with the job that Ben Ramsey is doing. He has basically become the top player on that unit and continues to do just an all around tremendous job (he even had an assist in this game). At LSM, it was mentioned on the broadcast, but Jose Boyer is playing some awesome lacrosse right now. He is a ground ball machine, he has timely slides and checks, and it is just great to see him having a superb fifth year. The close defense of Chris Conlin, Chris Fake, Marco Napolitano and Ross Burgmaster is playing at a very, very high level right now. They completely shut down Jack Myers holding him to zero points and you can tell how well they are communicating with each other and playing within the system. Cannot say enough good things about the job Coach Ryan Wellner has done getting this unit up to speed and playing so cohesively so fast.
— Notre Dame Lacrosse (@NDlacrosse) March 11, 2023
The ND defense allowed just 3 goals in today's win, which are the fewest goals the Buckeyes have scored in the shot clock era and their lowest mark since losing 6-1 to Maryland on April 18, 2015.#GoIrish☘️ pic.twitter.com/KPsTBzkNHh
Nine points for the Kavanagh brothers on Saturday and it is becoming commonplace to pretty much pencil in at least ten points from them as I think they have 50 total points across these first five games of the season. The superlatives from Paul Carcaterra during the broadcast are what we have been seeing from the Kavanagh family over so many years at Notre Dame across Matt, Pat and Chris = bulldogs, ultra competitive, leaders, innovative, ground ball machines, scoring, assists, etc. And if there is anyone who is going to lead the Irish to their first national championship, it is the Kavanaghs. Here is a good interview from Paul with Chris and Pat and don’t forget to donate to help Pat raise funds for CityLax to grow lacrosse in NYC.
So wonderful to see Jake Taylor back in action for the Irish as he was not only in the mix on the man up, but also in the regular offensive sets. He is coming off a knee injury and the word was that he was going to be back in the second half of the year (so he is ahead of schedule). It’s exciting for the Irish as we all know what happened last year when he came in across the last six games of the year - it was a game changer. Adding Jake back into the middle and being able to move him in and out with Jeffery Ricciardelli gives the Irish more firepower on the inside. To note, although Ricciardelli did not get a goal in this game, he did get some good looks and just missed on a couple of them. We need him to continue being a part of the offense as he is too good to not be.
I have been thinking a lot about what makes this Irish team different from ones in the past, and to me it comes down to our ability to be so interchangeable on offense with our attack and our midfield. Too many years in the past we have been one dimensional where we either had an attackman attacking from the side or behind and we had our midfield dodging from up top. It became pretty repetitive and we all knew what was coming when certain midfielders got the ball up top. This year’s Irish squad has the ability to invert our offense across so many different players, whether that is Jack Simmons, Bryce Walker or Reilly Gray starting from behind the cage and dodging to either score or find an open man. Or those three can do the exact same from up top. Reversing it, there is no problem for us having Pat and Chris dodging from up top, the side or behind the cage. Along with that, add in how much tougher it has gotten to defend Dobson from up top, defenses having to account for McCahon and Tevlin in each set, and then the finishing ability of Taylor, Ricciardelli and Westlin....all of this makes the Irish a really, really hard team to defend. Get used to defending us one way and we will completely change it up and start our offense with a different player from a different position on the field. It is really fun to watch and it makes it very difficult for the opposing team to get into a rhythm and try to stop what we are doing.
Coming up Next
The Irish travel to Ann Arbor on Saturday the 18th to take on Michigan who is coming off a big win against Harvard this past weekend. The Wolverines are 4-2 and are playing some good lacrosse right now (they kept it close against UVA and they have also beaten Delaware). We will have to keep our foot on the gas as this could be a trap game and we know Michigan will want this one badly as they have never beaten us in the history of their program. I am looking for the Irish to keep their intensity and continue to play the way we have been playing as we look to get to 6-0.
And then just one line on this, but coming up after Michigan is UVA at Arlotta in what could be #1 vs #2 in an epic showdown. Not going to say any more.
Lastly, don’t forget to check in with our good friends at 18 Stripes for their write ups on the Irish lacrosse team as well.