May 9th, 2022:
Following the NCAA selection committee leaving the #4 ranked Fighting Irish out of the 2022 NCAA lacrosse tournament, Quinn McCahon took to twitter to share his feelings and the heartbreak that engulfed the Notre Dame team after the news:
May 27th, 2023:
On a beautiful Memorial Day afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, the Notre Dame Men’s Fighting Irish lacrosse team completed a storybook season by defeating the Duke Blue Devils by a score of 13-9 to win our first ever lacrosse National Championship. In front of over 30,000 fans, in Coach Kevin Corrigan’s 35th season as the Notre Dame head lacrosse coach, the Irish finally broke through, and did so in fitting fashion by beating the Blue Devils who had ended our season in the postseason five times before, with two of them being in the championship game.
It was a cathartic ending to the most memorable season in Notre Dame lacrosse history as the Irish truly vanquished EVERY single demon from our past. It cannot be said enough, but this team, led by the disappointment of last year and the senior leadership that would not let them fail this year, proved to everyone in the country that they were an absolutely dominating force that was not going to be stopped until they hoisted the trophy on the field on Memorial Day.
The Irish are National Champions and THANK YOU to all the players, the coaches, the families, the fans of the program, the players from the past, and everyone who has helped get the lacrosse program to this point. There is no better feeling in the world, it truly was a magical ending to a season that none of us will ever forget.
There is so much to cover, I could probably write an entire novel on the game and the season so let’s get right into it.
Unlike Saturday’s matchup against UVA, I was not able to be at this game in person so watched at home on TV with family and friends. The game got underway a little after 1 PM EST as the refs said to the teams meeting at midfield, “Liam and Will touch gloves” and we were off...
Every lacrosse player’s dream is to play on Memorial Day. Honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice. pic.twitter.com/RlXfhXSekb— Notre Dame Lacrosse (@NDlacrosse) May 29, 2023
Duke won the opening faceoff on a procedure call on Notre Dame, and shortly after that, their star midfielder, Garrett Leadmon took it in and scored giving Duke a 1-0 lead, just 35 seconds into the game. Notre Dame was late to slide as the Blue Devils took the early lead, but little did we all know, this would be the ONLY goal that Duke would score in the first half. Brian Tevlin would then tie things up 1-1 as he scored as the shot clock was expiring (off a great feed from Chris Kavanagh) at 11:33. Soon after we would see a big save by Liam Entenmann and you could tell that Liam was dialed in and on point early on. The Irish would get a 2-1 lead when Eric Dobson would take the ball from up top, dodge to his left and take it home on the run for the score. Next, Will Helm would make an incredible save on Jake Taylor’s behind the back attempt to keep the score at 2-1. Duke would then get a man-up opportunity but the Irish would stop them with some great defense, and shortly after Chris Kavanagh would get the ball after a missed pass and bury it from 15 yards out to put the Irish up 3-1 with 2:06 to go. The Irish would then get their first man-up with 56 seconds to go as Chris Kavanagh got hit helmet to helmet and Duke was issued a non-releasable two minute penalty. Jeffery Ricciardelli was fed with some nice passes and was able to get a couple of good shots off that did not hit home, but ND kept possession as the first quarter buzzer sounded and would start the second quarter with the ball with still over a minute left on the penalty. The score was 3-1 at the end of one and the Irish held a 3-2 advantage on faceoffs.
Chris Kav = good at lacrosse— Notre Dame Lacrosse (@NDlacrosse) May 29, 2023
The Irish continued on the man-up and Helm made a huge save for Duke on a Jake Taylor doorstep shot. Duke was able to get the ball, and as we will continue to say in this whole article, there was a big save by Liam on Duke’s first possession of the quarter. With 12:27 left in the quarter, there was a scrum in front of the net and the loose ball was picked up by Taylor for a quick finish and the Irish led 4-1. The score would continue there and Duke thought they got it to 4-2, but their player was called in the crease so the goal did not count. ND was then able to stop a Duke man-up opportunity as Chris Conlin and Ben Ramsey caused a big turnover. Soon we saw one of the plays of the game as Jalen Seymour made an unreal pass to Ricciardelli in front and he put it home. The play started when Tevlin hit a trailing Seymour who was coming on for Ramsey in substitution, and he then fed Jeffery as the Irish went up 5-1 with 9:27 to go. Timeout Duke.
From there, some great defense by Jose Boyer on Leadmon on one possession and then Will Donovan with the same on another Duke possession to cause a turnover. And then we saw one of the better goals on the season as Quinn McCahon let it rip from over midfield with Duke in the ten man ride. It was a HUGE GOAL to put the Irish up 6-1 with 5:27 to go.
Both teams would then have opportunities to score and one of them for Duke was denied as Chris Fake got his stick on a close-in shot to deny the Blue Devils. And then Liam made another huge save with a little over three minutes to go. That is where things would end as the quarter came to a close with the Irish up 6-1. ND would also hold the faceoff edge at 5-3.
Going to state that again: NOTRE DAME HELD DUKE, A TEAM THAT AVERAGES OVER FIFTEEN GOALS PER GAME, TO ONLY ONE GOAL IN THE FIRST HALF.
We all knew it was going to happen, Duke was going to come out firing, and after a Helm save to start the second half on Chris Kavanagh, Duke came down to score on their first possession to get the score to 6-2 with 12:56 to go. Duke then won the ensuing faceoff and after Fake was picked off during a switch, Dyson Williams put it home to make it 6-3 with 12:20 to go. Shortly after, Leadmon scored again after some confusion on switching on ND’s defense and it was 6-4 Irish with 11:16 to go. The game was completely back on.
Liam made a huge save on O’Neill on the following possession, but soon after Duke went on the man-up on a push on Pat Kavanagh. O’Neill would take it home with a rocket goal from the outside to make it 6-5 Irish with 9:03 to go. At this point, it was a 4-0 run by Duke and we were just under six minutes into the second half. The Irish won the critical next faceoff, and on our possession, Duke was whistled for two minutes of penalties. On the Irish man-up, Ricciardelli put home his second of the day, this time on a nice feed in front from Taylor. Irish were now up 7-5 with a huge goal to stem the tide a little. There would be some back and forth following, along with huge saves from Liam (again), but Duke would get the next goal at 4:15 to get the score to 7-6 Irish. Will Lynch again with a huge faceoff win and this time he took it all the way in, but his shot from in close hit the post. Duke would eventually get the ball back and with 1:01 to go, they would tie the score at 7-7 off a pass that went in off Ben Ramsey’s stick. Again, in a huge moment, ND would win the next faceoff (Hagstrom this time) and Brian Tevlin would score off a feed from Pat Kavanagh with 27 seconds to go get the Irish back up 8-7. Notre Dame would win the next faceoff and with less than a second to go, Chris Kavanagh would dive in front of the crease to score a MASSIVE goal to get the Irish up 9-7 as the quarter came to a close. And at this point it was 9-7 Irish with the faceoff advantage. Only fifteen more minutes to glory.
Irish win the faceoff (again) to start the quarter. ND could not get it home and then Liam with some huge saves (again) on Duke’s first and second possessions. Then, with 10:50 to go, Dobson (and as Paul Carcaterra called him, “the Florida flamethrower”) dodged from up top and scored to put the Irish up 10-7.
Duke would win the faceoff and Liam with a huge save (again) from in front. Then with 8:51 left Duke would get one back to get to 10-8. The Irish then had an absolutely huge faceoff win (again) after a really long scrum. It felt like this entire play summarized the fight and will of the Irish in this whole game.
They say groundballs win championships… this scrum was UNREAL— TLN (@LacrosseNetwork) May 29, 2023
(via ESPN) pic.twitter.com/mSPbZ1g6vB
Shortly after, ND would have a crease violation and Chris Kavanagh would get a penalty on the ride. Duke went man-up with 6:56 to go and another absolutely MASSIVE save by Liam on the Duke man-up unit. Then with 5:06 to go, Jack Simmons would hit home from up top putting the Irish up 11-8.
Huge faceoff coming up and Will Lynch would win it (again). The Irish would call timeout with 4:22 to go and with possession, 42 seconds left on the shot clock. In an interesting move by the Duke coaching staff, they doubled Simmons behind the goal as he started off with the ball, he fed Taylor on the run, he came around the goal and scored from the side putting our Irish up 12-8 with 4:19 to go. ND won the next faceoff, Duke pressed out and McCahon beat the double team, he got to the front and scored on a bouncer putting our Irish up 13-8 with 3:24 to go. It was right there for us, we are almost there.
We would then see a Duke miss with 3:08 to go, there was some back and forth and with just over two minutes to go, and Duke with the ball, they were called offsides, giving us the ball back. We would take some time off the clock, Duke would get the ball back with 1:22 to go and then a final Liam save toward the end before Duke scored to get to 13-9 with 12 seconds to go. And from there....
THE FIGHTING IRISH OF NOTRE DAME, THE 2023 NCAA LACROSSE NATIONAL CHAMPIONS!
Some Notes and Thoughts
Where to begin? So many Notes and so many Thoughts...
Coach Kevin Corrigan:
35 years. No one is more deserving to be hoisting up the trophy than the man who got it all started at Notre Dame. He is the reason Notre Dame lacrosse is what it is today and he and his family have been waiting for this day for a long time. After almost getting it done in both 2010 and 2014, the last three years have been his overall best and most complete teams at Notre Dame. The 2021, 2022 and 2023 teams have all had legitimate title winning aspirations and teams that could have gotten it done. To finally take it home today, no one wanted it more than Coach Corrigan, and soon enough he will have a statue outside of Arlotta. Congrats Coach, celebrate, today is all yours.
Let’s start with Liam Entenmann who made 18 saves and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the 2023 NCAA Championships. He was INCREDIBLE in this game and made save after save after save. And as he did this entire season, he proved he was the best goalie in the country and solidified himself in the Notre Dame history books as the greatest of all time to put on the Notre Dame goalie gear. Enough said.
He was UNREAL at the faceoff dot going up against 1st Team All-American Jake Naso. All Will did on the day was go 12-19 (63%) as he continued his excellent play across Memorial Day weekend. In a game where possessions were going to be at a premium, and when the Irish needed to get the ball back after big Duke goals, he was there all afternoon. Along with Entenmann, he was the reason we won on Monday.
The Notre Dame Defense:
Consider these numbers: Dyson Williams (1G, 0A), Brennan O’Neill (1G, 1A), Andrew McAdorey (0G, 1A). Across the Duke attack, one of the most feared units in all of the country, the Irish limited these three to two goals and two assists. They also limited Duke to their lowest goal output of the entire season as they had never before been held to under ten goals in any game this year. In two games against Notre Dame this year, Brennan O’Neill had two goals (both of them being on the man-up). You cannot overstate the job done by Entenmann, Fake, Napolitano, Conlin, Ramsey, Parlette, Harris, McCahon, Tevlin, Lynch, Hagstrom, Burgmaster, Donovan and Boyer. Coming off less than 48 hours rest and doing the job they did was just insane. Kudos to Coach Corrigan and Coach Wellner, just a fantastic job getting our defensive unit ready in the biggest game in Notre Dame lacrosse history.
The Kavanagh Brothers (and the Kavanagh family):
I feel like this is a time where words will not be enough to describe what the Kavanagh family means to Notre Dame lacrosse. It started with Matt Kavanagh and it is ending with Pat and Chris Kavanagh. They are the first family of Notre Dame lacrosse and when one thinks of ND lacrosse or the Kavanagh brothers, you cannot think of one without the other. Seeing what Pat Kavanagh did today on basically one leg was incredible. After injuring himself in the Hopkins game with what looked like to be a sore calf, and then injuring himself in the game against UVA with a hamstring strain, he was playing on basically one leg. He was not his normal self all weekend, but he was not going to come off the field, there was no way he was not going to be out there to will our team to victory. What an unreal performance and one that will be remembered for a long time. And Chris Kavanagh, pushed to do more with Pat hobbled, came up huge with two goals and one assist and played the focal point of the Notre Dame attack for the whole game. He was beat up but he just kept on coming back for more.
I could write paragraphs more around the Kavanaghs and what they mean to Notre Dame, but this family IS Notre Dame lacrosse and they are finally national champions. Only fitting that it happened in Philly, the City of Brotherly Love.
He started off this season on fire as he was in the starting lineup at attack with the Kavanagh brothers. He was taking the place of Jake Taylor as he was getting ready to come back from his knee injury. And when Jake came back, his time was reduced to pretty much the man-up unit, which had to be really hard for him. All he did throughout the season was play his role and continue to be a force on that unit. Today he scored two goals to come up huge for the Irish on a day when we knew our attack was going to be limited. Great work by Jeffery, today was big time.
Chris Fake, Brian Tevlin, Jack Simmons and Chris Conlin all had one more year of eligibility to play their final seasons of college lacrosse. They could have chosen anywhere to go as any program in the country would have taken them. They chose to come to Notre Dame to be a part of something special, to earn a degree from Notre Dame and to help the team complete their ultimate goal. They did their jobs and then some. They were leaders, they were teammates and today they are champions.
To all those Note Dame lacrosse players who came before:
While today was the result of the 2023 team, today’s championship will be celebrated by every Notre Dame lacrosse player who built this program. 2023 does not happen without what happened from 1988 - 2022. They all came before, they were the ones who got us to this place, and congratulations to all of you. Enjoy your celebrations with your families, friends and teammates. It’s a great day to be Irish.
My own personal Thank You:
To everyone who has been reading these articles and to all who have followed along in my journey with this year’s Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team.....Thank You. I have a few passions in life outside of my family and a lot of those have to do with Notre Dame. This University has meant so much to me and my family and has been a big part of my life starting with my Grandpa graduating from Notre Dame in 1927, my Dad graduating in 1969, my uncles in 1956 and 1957, my cousins graduating in 1989 and 1990, and finally my graduating in 2000.
Notre Dame football and Notre Dame lacrosse are my sport passions and following and writing about this 2023 lacrosse team has been an absolute thrill. Thank You to Josh and One Foot Down for giving me this opportunity. Thanks you to Robby Hamman for all the access this year. Thank You to Fred Assaf for all the help with the pictures. Thank You to Coach Wellner for connecting with me a couple of years ago. Thank you to my wife and kids for giving me the time to follow this passion. Thank You to the Notre Dame lacrosse team for making this year so special and one that we will never forget. Thank You to everyone who been along for the ride.
As this lacrosse season wound to a close, it was “Time to be Great” and this year the Irish made it a “Time to be a Champion.” Check.
See you next year as we defend our title.
THANK YOU and Go Irish.