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Top-Ranked Irish Wrap Up Home Slate With Physical Victory Over UNC

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


Photo by Notre Dame Athletics


In front of a packed house and campus Saturday in South Bend, the No. 1-ranked Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team completed its home portion of the 2024 schedule with a battle against familiar foe North Carolina. Fans in attendance were able to enjoy a quadruple dip of action if they chose, with the football team playing in the annual Blue-Gold Game, in addition to baseball and softball also taking place that afternoon.

 

North Carolina arrived at Arlotta Stadium dealing with a plethora of injuries up and down its roster, but the 6-6 Tar Heels -- who entered losers of four straight contests overall and looking for its first win this season in ACC play -- played with an unrelenting level of energy in the opening half of action.

 

The Irish and Tar Heels -- who have played 23 times in their histories, with Notre Dame winning 12 of those -- would trade goals in the early part of the game, as the visitors hung tough on the road. Devon McLane opened the scoring with his 16th goal of the season off an assist from Chris Kavanagh, as the Irish jumped out in front. Forty seconds later, however, UNC’s Harry Wellford banged home his first goal of the season to knot the affair at one apiece.



With the score tied at two with 90 seconds left in the opening frame, Dom Pietramala put the Tar Heels in front as he blasted his 28th score of the season past Irish netminder Liam Entenmann. To the surprise of many at Arlotta, the Tar Heels -- who were still alive for the No. 4 seed in the upcoming ACC Tournament entering Saturday’s game -- would take a 3-2 lead into the second quarter.

 

Looking to jumpstart an Irish offense that has averaged over 16 goals per game this season, Jordan Faison would get going in the second quarter. His goal at the 12:31 mark of the frame knotted things at three, and Will Angrick’s goal four-plus minutes later gave Notre Dame the lead back at 4-3.

 

The defense was clearly the story for both sides in the opening 30 minutes of play, which was an impressive feat when you consider that UNC was without some of its premier players on both ends of the field. Fighting through its injuries, North Carolina found itself down just one score, as they entered the locker room trailing 5-4. It was a gorgeous behind-the-back score by Pat Kavanagh that put the blue and gold up heading into the locker room with 2:39 to go in the half.

 

Despite Carolina’s impressive first two quarters of action, the consensus No. 1 team in America came out firing as they have all season when faced with all levels of adversity.

 


With six consecutive goals in the quarter -- including two more from McLane, which helped him collect the hat trick, and Chris Kavanagh’s 22nd of the season -- the Irish, who were coming off a thrilling victory over No. 8-ranked Cornell last week in New York, gave themselves complete control of the contest, as they led 11-4 at the end of three.

 

Consecutive goals from the Tar Heels at the top of the fourth quarter would bring them to within five with 10-plus minutes remaining, but three additional strikes by Eric Dobson (10th of the season), Jeff Ricciardelli -- who scored his sixth of the campaign off an assist from Tyler Buchner -- and the completion of another hat trick for Chris Kavanagh, helped the Irish register their seventh straight victory overall.

 

In the win, Irish keeper Liam Entenmann stopped 12 of the 18 shots he faced, as the veteran continues to protect the blue and golf on the back end.

 

What’s Next for the Irish?

 

Notre Dame heads south once again, this time for a date in Charlottesville with No. 4 Virginia on Saturday, April 27. The Cavaliers knocked off the Irish twice last season, with their wins serving as the only two losses for the eventual national champion Irish.



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