By David A. Willauer and from Press Release
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/24/14
Sophomore attackman Matt Kavanagh had five goals and two assists and redshirt sophomore goalie Conor Kelly (Haverford School) made 14 saves to lift Notre dame to an 11-6 victory today over Maryland in the NCAA Men’s Division I semifinals at M&T Park in Baltimore.
Their efforts pushed the Irish to Monday’s NCAA Lacrosse Championship title game where they will try to take down 2013 national champion Duke, a 15-12 victor against Denver in Saturday’s first game.
Kavanagh was one of eight Irish players to register a point Saturday. From the outset — Notre Dame led 10-5 after three quarters and appeared to be a step ahead of Maryland all afternoon.
“I thought we were playing great team offense,” said Kavanagh, who registered his five goals on just 10 shots. “I wasn’t really doing anything differently from a game-to-game standpoint, but the sets that we ran this week in practice, I think we executed them perfectly.
“I was just on the better end of a great offensive team.”
The goals came in a variety of ways.
A slam dunk from point-blank range after a pass from Conor Doyle opened the scoring. Goal No. 2 for the Irish came thanks to a nice feed from Kavanagh to John Scioscia and a big third quarter run saw a pair of goals and an assist that put Notre Dame up 10-5 with 15 minutes to play.
As good as Kavanagh was, the Irish defense was even better, thanks to Kelly and senior defenseman Stephen O’Hara (St. Joseph’s Prep). Despite Maryland’s walking wounded Charlie Raffa winning face-off after face-off (he won 13 of 18 through four quarters), Irish defenders were a constant nuisance to Terp attackers.
“Yeah, I felt like I was seeing the ball well,” Kelly said. “I thought I saw the ball well against them the last time. Playing a team three times is tough but you also get to see their
shooters three times so I thought I got a good read on their releases.
“Yeah, we’re really coming together here at the end, and I think our game plans have been great.”
Maryland senior Mike Chanenchuk had very little room all day, scoring his only goal with 6:02 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Terps managed just six goals on 38 shots, and despite winning 15 of 21 face-offs they had 19 turnovers.
“I thought [the Irish] played a great game [Saturday]; they executed very well and just about every facet of the game. They outplayed us in every area,” Maryland head coach John Tillman said. “They played great defense; I thought we got some good looks but it seemed like we are still a little bit stubborn with are shooting.”
Maryland senior goalie Nike Amato – who like Kelly was a former Phillylacrosse.com Player of the Year (for La Salle in 2008) – earned First team All-American honors this year and reached the Final Four three times. He fell short of his goal of winning a national title, but said he will cherish a standout career.
“Yeah, coach (John Tillman) kind of hit the nail on the head in the locker room,” he said. “Pretty much you risk getting your heart broken to go on a great journey with this team, and the guys and I wouldn’t have traded anything in the world for these past five years.”
Tags: Haverford School