From Press Release
and Staff Report by David A. Willauer
Sophomore attackman Matt Kavanagh scored the game winner with seven seconds left and sophomore Conor Kelly (Haverford School) was a standout in goal as No. 9 Notre Dame topped No. 5 Maryland, 6-5, on Friday evening in the semifinals of the Atlantic Coast Conference Men’s Lacrosse Championship at a chilly and rainy PPL Park. Notre Dame will face Syracuse at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday for the ACC title.
The game-clinching sequence began when Notre Dame freshman defenseman Garrett Epple forced a Maryland turnover and midfielder Jack Near scooped up the ground ball, raced down the field and found Kavanagh, who gave the Fighting Irish (7-5) their first lead of the game.
“When Jack Near is in the open field no one is going to catch him,” Kavanagh said. “I just ran to an open spot and I was lucky enough to get a great pass from Jack. My guy switched so I was open back side.”
Maryland (10-3) led 3-1 at halftime and extended the cushion to three early in the second half on a Connor Cannizzaro goal. Notre Dame answered back with three straight scores to make it 4-4 less than two minutes into the fourth quarter. John Scioscia started the run when he scored from close range off a pass from Nick Ossello. Jim Marlatt then fired in a shot from distance to make it 4-3 by the end of the third period. A man-up tally from Eddy Lubowicki evened the affair.
The Terrapins, the top seed in the tournament, regained the lead with 9:31 left on a man-up goal from Rustin Bryant. Notre Dame tied it up (5-5) just over a minute later when Conor Doyle worked his way around the goal and sent a shot to the back of the net. The fourth-seeded Irish had six different players score their six goals.
Kelly – the Phillylacrosse.com Co-Player of the Year in 2011 – made 12 saves and outplayed Maryland’s Niko Amato – the 2008 Phillylacrosse.com Player of the Year while at La Salle – who had nine stops.
Kelly’s performance (he had five saves in the fourth period) was especially noteworthy because he temporarily lost his starting job this year. However, he never complained and was simply happy to help his team win in his hometown.
“It’s good to play in front of a hometown crowd right here at PPL Park, which is not too far from where I grew up in St. David’s,” said Kelly. “I tried to keep my head up all season and tried to do everything that I could.”
Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan praised Kelly for his play on the field and his attitude all season.
“Conor Kelly is a good young man who supports his teammates and I am very happy for him,” Corrigan said. “He made some key saves for us. When I told him eight days ago that he would be starting (regaining his spot) you would have never known anything had changed. He just did what he had to do and was prepared.”
The Terrapins held a 37-30 advantage in shots and they also won the faceoff battle, 10-3.
“We battled them in the faceoffs,” Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan said. “In the first half it was 4-1 them, but on two of the four they turned the ball over right after getting it up so it actually was 3-2 us in the way we prepared for this game. We said if they win some balls, we have to make sure we get some turnovers and that’s what happened.”
Maryland’s Tom Rotanz gave Maryland a 1-0 lead with 2:10 remaining in the first quarter and the Terrapins led by that score at the end of the first period. The Terrapins pushed the lead to three by the 10:45 mark of the second quarter on goals from Matt Rambo and Joe LoCascio. Notre Dame got on the board with 5:38 left in the first half on a Westy Hopkins transition tally, which was assisted by Near.
The five goals were the lowest output of the season for the Terrapins. The Notre Dame defense held Maryland’s leading scorer, Mike Chanenchuk (28g, 16a), without a point for the first time this season.
“This was a battle tonight,” Corrigan said. “It was two teams playing hard. I have a lot of respect for Maryland; they play hard, they play smart and they’re well coached. They are a very, very good team and it makes it all that much sweeter for us to get a win over a team of that caliber, especially six days after we lost to them at home. I was really proud of our guys and how hard we played.”
Third-seeded Syracuse topped No. 2 seed Duke, 16-15, in the night’s first semifinal. Sunday’s final will be aired live on ESPNU and WatchESPN. The Irish fell to the Orange, 11-10, on March 29 inside the Carrier Dome.
ACC Championship Semifinals
April 25, 2014
PPL Park • Chester, Pa.
#9 Notre Dame (7-5) – 0 1 2 3 – 6
#5 Maryland (10-3) – 1 2 1 1 – 5
Notre Dame (goals-assists)
John Scioscia 1-0, Jim Marlatt 1-0, Conor Doyle 1-0, Matt Kavanagh 1-0, Westy Hopkins 1-0, Eddy Lubowicki 1-0, Jack Near 0-2, Sergio Perkovic 0-1, Nick Ossello 0-1
Goalie: Conor Kelly (W, 60:00, 12 SVS, 5 GA)
Joe LoCascio 1-0, Matt Rambo 1-0, Connor Cannizzaro 1-0, Rustin Bryant 1-0, Tim Rotanz 1-0, Jay Carlson 0-1
Goalie: Niko Amato (L, 60:00, 9 SVS, 6 GA)