By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 4/27/14
Notre Dame went on a 6-0 run in the third quarter and held on to defeat Syracuse, 15-14, to win the 2014 ACC Men’s Lacrosse Championship Sunday afternoon at PPL Park.
The game ended with the ball in the stick of sophomore goalie Conor Kelly, the Haverford School grad who made two key saves in the final 40 seconds and earned all-tournament honors.
Kelly stoned Kevin Rice with five seconds to play on a point-blank shot, flipped the ball in the air and caught it and then ran out of the crease to begin the celebration.
“It was kind of déjà vu of Friday night,” said Kelly, who had several late saves in the 6-5 semifinal win over Maryland. “We knew they (Orange) were going to get a shot off and I was just trying to be ready for it. They can score in a lot of different ways. I just tried to stay ready for everything.”
Matt Kavanagh, the Tournament’s Most Valuable Player, led the Irish with four goals and two assists, including back-to-back goals in the pivotal third quarter.
Jim Marlatt tallied three goals and one assist for Notre Dame, while Conor Doyle had a career-high five points.
Kelly was officially credited with seven saves, although none in the final period. The stat people may have missed his final two saves, but his teammates did not.
“He picked the two biggest games to play his best games so far,” said Notre Dame senior defenseman Stephen O’Hara (St. Joseph’s Prep), who had five groundballs and four caused turnovers and also was named to the All-Tourney team. “I am sure that’s a confidence booster to him and he is gong to keep it up in the playoffs.”
O’Hara said winning the tourney was sweet as the No. 4 seed, but that the Irish have even bigger goals ahead.
“I don’t think it’s fully sunk in yet,” O’Hara said. “What we talked about in the locker room is that we have bigger things ahead of us. We will use this as a stepping stone for the Army game (next Sunday at home) and the NCAA tournament.
“I think we all knew all along from the beginning of the fall that we had the pieces,” he said. “The last two games we played more of a full game. We’ll build off this win and try and stay humble and hungry and at the same time have that confidence that we can play with anyone.
After the Irish jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the first quarter, Syracuse went on a 5-0 run to take a 6-3 lead. Notre Dame scored four of the last five goals of the first half to send the game to the break tied at 7-7.
Syracuse converted on an extra-man opportunity to start the second half. Notre Dame then scored six goals and held the Orange scoreless for over 13 minutes to take a 13-8 lead.
Trailing 15-10 with under ten minutes remaining in the game, Syracuse scored four straight down the stretch to pull within one. The Orange had the ball with the chance to send the game to overtime but were unable to get the ball past Notre Dame’s Kelly.
“Me and (Notre Dame FO specialist) Liam [O'Connor] went to Haverford, so it’s not quite Chester but it’s still Philadelphia,” said Kelly. “It’s always nice to come home and win in front of the home crowd. It definitely made it special for Liam and I.
“We stayed at Liam’s house and even practiced at Haverford one day- we were reliving the glory days.”
Said ND coach Kevin Corrigan: “We may need to make sure Conor practices one day a week at Haverford.”
Syracuse’s Chris Daddio won 21-of-33 faceoffs, including eight of the first nine in the game. Nick Ossello went 10-of-25 and tied a career high with three points.
Rice, who had six assists and seven points for the Orange in the championship, set new tournament records with 15 points and 11 assists on the weekend. Randy Staats tied a career high with five goals against Notre Dame.
Both teams converted on two extra-man opportunities. Notre Dame was a perfect 2-for-2 with the advantage, while Syracuse went 2-for-3.
“Syracuse is like the Terminator,” said Corrigan, speaking to the Orange comeback. “You can’t kill them.
“I’m just pleased and proud of our guys; they played with a lot of moxie.”
Westy Hopkins (La Salle/Lawrenceville School) added a goal for Notre Dame and
All three games of the 2014 ACC Men’s Lacrosse Championship were decided by one goal, the first time that has happened…All three games were won by the team that lost the regular season matchup and in all four games this weekend the lower seeded team won.
2014 ACC Men’s Lacrosse Championship All-Tournament Team
Goran Murray (Haverford School), Maryland
Case Matheis, Duke
Deemer Class, Duke
Brandon Mullins, Syracuse
Kevin Rice, Syracuse
Randy Staats, Syracuse
Dylan Donahue, Syracuse
Stephen O’Hara (St. Joseph’s Prep), Notre Dame
Conor Doyle, Notre Dame
Conor Kelly (Haverford School), Notre Dame
Matt Kavanagh, Notre Dame (MVP)