There are certain sporting events that are etched into my memory. In 1992, my brother JP and I went to Game Six of the NBA Finals and the Bulls beat the Trailblazers to win their second consecutive NBA championship. In 2005 I was at the Notre Dame versus USC football game that ended in the Bush Push and an Irish loss. In January of 2013 in Miami, Florida, well let’s not even talk about the Notre Dame versus Alabama football game. In June of 2013, my wife and I saw Patrick Kane get a hat trick and the game winner in OT as the Blackhawks beat the Kings to punch their ticket to the Stanley Cup Finals. This past year in November it was the Notre Dame versus Clemson football game at Notre Dame Stadium. So you can see that while there have been some epic wins that I have seen in my life, there have also been some crazy losses.
May 27th, 2023 will go down as one of those days I will never forgot. On a picture perfect day in Philadelphia at Lincoln Financial Field, our Irish scored three goals in the final three minutes of the game, and then Brian Tevlin got the overtime winner, to knock off Virginia and set up a matchup with Duke for the National Championship on Memorial Day.
To say that this was an epic win would be an understatement. Being at the game in person, it was heartbreaking to watch goal after goal from Virginia go in when it seemed we had them stopped. To be down by two with under three minutes to go in the game, it didn’t seem like we were going to breakthrough. To tie the contest at 11 with just over two minutes to go, to only to see UVA go up 12-11 with 52 seconds to go? It was the highest of highs, met with the lowest of lows, only to be brought back up to the highest point when Jake Taylor tied the game at 12-12 with 32 seconds to go to force overtime. And then the jubilation of Tevlin scoring 29 seconds into OT which led to pandemonium. It was EVERYTHING a Notre Dame lacrosse fan could ask for and the best thing is that we all get to do this again on Monday afternoon.
Let’s get into it, there is so much to discuss.
Eric Dobson got things going early for the Irish. He got the first goal of the game as he had a shortie on him on the Irish’s first possession. It was 1-0 Irish not even a minute into the game. Then Jack Simmons got on the board with a goal to make it 2-0 Irish not even two minutes into the game. Both shots were low and away and it has us fans thinking that maybe the Irish had gotten something figured out with Matthew Nunes. Not to mention that Liam Entenmann had two great saves to start the game. From there it was back and forth until UVA got one back on a slow bouncer to get to 2-1 with 7:39 to go in the first quarter. They then tied it 2-2 after winning the faceoff and our Irish were caught in a bit of an in between situation with getting our right defenders on the field and the Cavaliers scored from up top. UVA got their third straight goal to go up 3-2 following a great Irish defensive stand, but the ball popped loose to Connor Shellenberger and he hit it home with one second left on the shot clock. The Irish then tied things up as Simmons got a rebound goal off a Jake Taylor miss to make it 3-3 with 2:15 left in the first. Then, with six seconds to go, Pat Kavanagh attacked from GLE, made an awesome BTB pass to a cutting Jake Taylor to put the Irish up 4-3 with just over one second to go in the first. And that is where we would finish the quarter, along with the Irish up 4 to 3 from a faceoff perspective.
UVA got the scoring going as Shellenberger was open in front to tie the score at 4-4. Then Shellenberger hit Cormier in front and Virginia was up 5-4 with a little over eleven minutes to go in the second. Ben Ramsey made his presence felt and scored a goal in transition, tying the score at 5-5 with 6:42 to go. UVA got one back with 4:15 to go to make it a 6-5 lead for them until Dobson tied things up at 6-6 with just under two minutes to go. That is where we would be at the break and faceoffs at this point were 7-6 Notre Dame after the first thirty minutes. To note, Pat and Chris Kavanagh were held in check and had one total point at the half, and it looked like Pat Kavanagh was laboring toward the end of the quarter with some leg issues.
Eric Dobson got the scoring started putting the Irish up 7-6 and it would be the last lead we would see for a while. We had a chance to make it 8-6, but Griffin Westlin just missed from out front off a feed from Chris Kavanagh. From there Xander Dickson scored off a backside feed from Shellenberger and the scored was tied 7-7. UVA then went up 8-7 with 8:53 to go as Shellenberger shot, and while Liam looked to make the save, it dribbled in with 8:53 to go. There was then a lot of back forth for a few minutes until Pat Kavanagh tied things up at 8-8 from up top. Additionally, a flag came out and it was enforced on the faceoff so our Irish had a man-up but couldn’t take advantage as UVA won the faceoff. Finally, there was a lucky tipped pass and catch in front of the cage for a Virginia goal where they went up 9-8 with just over three minutes to go. And that is where the third quarter would end with UVA up 9-8. Faceoffs saw ND at 10 and UVA at 9 at this point.
Early on, Notre Dame was on the man up, but just could not seem to get anything going, and Dobson’s shot went right into Nunes’ chest. With a little over ten minutes left in the game, UVA got the first goal of the quarter from out front to go up 10-8 on a play where Entenmann seemed to be screened, so it was going to be a tough save. And this would be the first two goal margin since ND led 2-0 early in the first. About 45 seconds later, Pat Kavanagh would score to make it 10-9, but UVA got one back under a minute later to make it 11-9. At the 6:30 mark the Irish got another man-up opportunity, but as before, we could not get a score.
With a little over three minutes to go, Liam made the save of the game to keep it a two goal game, and when ND got possession, we called a timeout with 2;52 to go. Right out of the timeout, Dobson dodged from up top and found Chris Kavanagh in front to get to 11-10 with 2:38 to go. We could feel this comeback coming and Dobson then tied things up at 11-11 with 2:07 to go. With just under a minute to go, another weird fluke pass hit Shellenberger behind the goal and he then fed a cutting teammate in front, to make a 12-11 with 52 seconds to go. We needed a big faceoff win, we got it and with 42 seconds left we called timeout. And then one of the neater goals you will see happened as Taylor tied things up at 12 with 32 seconds to go. That was where the fourth quarter would end and overtime was calling. Faceoffs were ND at 15 and UVA at 12.
In another huge moment, ND won the faceoff, got possession, got the ball into the offensive zone and called timeout.
No need to describe the final goal. This tweet shares it perfectly. BRIAN TEVLIN!!!!!
Some Notes and Thoughts
For those who read my preview article for the ND vs UVA game, here are the things I highlighted that I thought would lead to an Irish victory. Let’s take a look at how we did relative to what we wrote:
Eric Dobson needs to assert himself and do so early on
He did so scoring the first goal of the game and finished with five total points (4G, 1A). It was an awesome game for Dobson.
We cannot let UVA get quick restarts that then lead to unsettled situations
We held UVA pretty much in check here in this situation so great work on our end.
Pat and Chris Kavanagh need to play their regular games
Pat was not healthy throughout the day, same with Chris, but these two put forth an amazingly gritty performance accounting for four points (3G, 1A). We have come to expect nothing but greatness from these two, but to see what they did on the biggest stage while their bodies were hurting was just incredible.
Rattle Nunes early
We got to him early and although he gave up a few quick goals, he quickly settled in and continued his high level play agains the Irish.
Replicate the Duke scoring line against UVA
This was harder although we did see seven different Irish scorers.
Limit Connor Shellenberger
This one was tough, he is so good and he had six points (3G, 3A), but we did the best we absolutely could on him.
Get to 45% at the faceoff dot
Colin Hagstrom was 3 for 6 (50%) and Will Lynch was 13 for 22 (59%). AMAZING game by these two, MVP type performances and Will Lynch was one of the biggest reasons why we won this game. He out dueled Petey LaSalla. Job well done!
Get goals / points from unlikely places
Our stars stepped up in this game and it was enough.
Don’t miss on man-up
We were 0-3 and had we lost we would be looking back at this as a massive stat for the game.
Beat the ten man ride and make UVA pay
Saw Chris Fake almost hit one from a far distance, but overall we were 20-21 clearing the ball, awesome work.
Some other quick thoughts
The first half seemed to be a half of misses for both teams. Whether is was ND not getting home on some of our fast breaks or UVA getting denied from in close, would imagine both teams would have liked to have some plays back as each team could easily have had ten goals at the break.
With Pat Kavanagh hobbled, our ride was not as effective as we would have hoped it would be. Clearly it was something the ND coaches were willing to sacrifice on in order to keep Pat on the field. Really hoping he has the chance to heal up between now and Monday.
THAT WAS AWESOME...all the people I ran into today and said hello to for the first time. Big thanks to Dan Burgmaster and Fred Assaf for inviting me to the ND tailgate. And so wonderful to meet so many parents of the players, it was the best saying hello to the the Burgmasters, the Assafs, the Ramseys, the Entenmanns, the Parlettes, the Eilers, the Manyaks, the Taylors, the Fakes, the Dohertys, the Sforzos, and anyone else I missed. Also really nice saying hello to those in the pressbox that I had the chance to see for the first time (other lacrosse writers and podcasters), and especially my good friends Luke and Marco at 18stripes.com. Lastly, great to see some fellow class of 2000 Notre Dame grads, especially these members of the 2000 ND lacrosse team.
32,107 in attendance for the day, buoyed by Penn State fans being there. And it was a great environment in Philly, they did a tremendous job.
We’ve talked about this for so long and throughout much of this year. The script has basically been written since May of 2022 when the Irish did not hear their name called on the tournament selection show. The script went like this:
Leave no doubt in early season wins: check against Marquette, Cleveland State and Michigan
Vanquish tough defeats from last year: check against Georgetown, Maryland and Ohio State
Win against our ACC schedule: check against North Carolina (twice), Syracuse and Duke
Win in the opening two rounds of the NCAA tournament: check against Utah and Johns Hopkins
Coming into this Saturday, our Irish were 18-3 in our last 21 games with all three defeats coming against Virginia: check against beating Virginia in the playoffs and getting that off our backs.
And now it all comes down Monday and the Duke Blue Devils who have beaten us the last five times we have played them in the NCAA tournament, including twice on Memorial Day. It is time for that streak to end. It is time to check that box against the Blue Devils in the tournament and IT IS TIME FOR OUR IRISH TO WIN OUR FIRST EVER LACROSSE NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP.
I cannot wait to see the team and coaching staff hoist the trophy on Monday afternoon. Time to Be Great one last time this year.