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Pat Kavanagh Sets All-Time Notre Dame Points Record As No. 1 Irish Top No. 5 UVA, 11-9

Written by Peter Jay Mulroy ⏐ Writer ⏐ Instagram: @sportstodaywithpeterjay

Photo by University of Notre Dame Athletics

Looking to cap the regular season with a 10-win campaign and roll into the 2024 ACC Tournament on the highest of notes, top-ranked Notre Dame (9-1 overall, 3-0 league), paid a visit to No. 5 Virginia on Saturday in what was the 21st meeting all-time between the lacrosse powers.


The two met three times last season, with UVA -- victors in seven of eight overall against ND entering Saturday’s tilt -- winning the first two before dropping the third to the Irish in overtime of the 2023 National Semifinals. And, as expected, the two rivals put on a show throughout the contest.


Devon McLane’s 19th goal of the season opened the scoring less than 90 seconds into the game, but the Cavaliers, who were looking to stop a two-game skid after dropping consecutive tilts to Duke and Syracuse, respectively, fired back in the blink of an eye. McCabe Millon’s 33rd tally on the year knotted the score at 1-1, and helped set the tone for what would be an electrifying opening frame.


Notre Dame and UVA would alternate goals for the next four scores, with Chris Kavanagh banging home his 26th of the season five minutes into the frame, while his brother Pat notched his 18th of the campaign 10 minutes later. The Cavaliers responded each time, however, and the first quarter of action ended in a three-all tie.


The seesaw scoring theme would continue in the early portion of the second frame as well, with the home Cavs taking the lead on the always-dangerous Payton Cormier sending one past Irish netminder Liam Entenmann for a 4-3 advantage. The goal for Cormier, who is the nation’s leading scoring in goals per game at 3.69, was his 49th of what has been a dominant season for the graduate student from Ontario.


Not to be outdone, Jake Taylor -- perhaps Notre Dame’s top offensive threat this year on a team that has no shortage of firepower -- tied the game back up at 4-4 with his 30th marker of the year. Despite the remarkable effort by Taylor to even the score, UVA would collect the next two scores, including No. 50 for Cormier, as they raced into the locker room with a 6-4 lead over an Irish squad that entered the day as the second-best scoring offense in the country (16.3 goals per game).


Virginia, specifically Cormier, picked up where they left off to start the second half. Off an assist by Joey Terenzi, Cormier’s 51st score of the year gave UVA what was, at least temporarily, a cushiony 7-4 advantage.


But as they’ve done all season, the Irish played through adversity as one cohesive unit to mount a third-quarter comeback.


Two-straight scores by Pat Kavanagh (19th of season) and Max Busenkell (7th) pulled the blue and gold to within one at 7-6 with 4:46 remaining in the frame. Keeping the run in motion, Jeff Ricciardelli grabbed his ninth score of the season 55 ticks of the clock later to tie the game at seven apiece.


Then, it was the freshman’s turn. With 2:59 remaining in the third, Scarsdale, New York native Andrew Greenspan capped a run of four-straight Irish goals, putting the top-ranked team in America back out in front, 8-7.


Notre Dame lacrosse history was achieved during that sequence as well, with the score by Kavanagh placing him alone at the top of the Irish’s all-time points list, with an astounding 274 for his career.


Not to be outdone, Cormier would rip home his fourth of the game and 52nd on the year to once again even the game at 8-8 heading into the final quarter of action.


Virginia stole the lead back two-plus minutes into the fourth quarter on a Connor Shellenberger tally, but beautiful vision and teamwork between Eric Dobson and Devon McLane tied the affair back up after McLane put his 20th of the season in the back of the net with 10:40 to go in regulation time.


A series that dates back to 1993, both Notre Dame and Virginia are no strangers to playing tight down-to-the-wire thrillers. For the Irish, however, earning a win at UVA’s Klöckner Stadium to end the regular season, a building where they entered 4-10 all-time and had lost four straight contests in, would go a long way into prepping them for another long postseason run.


And when they needed it most, the Irish got another huge lift from its stellar midfield unit.


Freshman star Jordan Faison put home his 17th tally of the season with 9:12 left in the frame, giving the Irish a 10-9 lead. The score would remain that way for the next five-plus minutes, as both teams had chances to score but to no avail.


With 3:41 to go, however, the Irish broke through once again, and in beautiful form. Busenkell’s feed to a cutting McLane was a work of art. And not only did it help McLane cap the hat trick, it also provided Notre Dame with the ever-important 11-9 lead.


The consecutive goals by Faison and McLane proved to be the difference in the contest, as No. 1 Notre Dame earned a highly impressive 11-9 triumph over a No. 5 Virginia that was bit by the turnover bug throughout.

The 27 giveaways by the Cavaliers were the most given up this season, and they couldn’t recover from multiple late blunders -- including a crucial turnover in the Irish zone with 35 seconds left -- in the loss.


What’s Next for the Irish?


Notre Dame heads to Charlotte, North Carolina, next week for the 2024 ACC Men’s Lacrosse Championship. The top seed in the tournament, the Irish will square off with Virginia once again, as UVA enters the field as the four seed. No. 2 Syracuse and No. 3 Duke will do battle in the second semifinal.

Notre Dame and UVA will play Friday, May 3 at 5:00 p.m. ET, with Duke and Syracuse meeting at 8:00 p.m. ET that same night.


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