Notre Dame men's lacrosse: Irish overcome slow start to beat Detroit, advance in tournament

AL LESAR South Bend Tribune
ND Insider

SOUTH BEND — Panic, according to Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan, absolutely, positively, was not a factor.

OK, call it an enhanced sense of urgency.

Whatever term can describe the feeling that comes with a four-goal deficit to the lacrosse team considered the second-worst in the NCAA Tournament — with 15 minutes to play — is exactly what the second-seeded Irish experienced Saturday.

Notre Dame responded positively to the monumental challenge. The Irish (11-4) scored six unanswered fourth-period goals to scale the mountain and escape with a 9-7 victory over Detroit (5-10) in the opening round of the tournament.

The victory earned the Irish a ticket to a quarterfinal matchup Sunday, May 19, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis against the winner of today’s Duke-Loyola (Md.) match.

Corrigan’s fourth-quarter plan was to ratchet up the pressure with lacrosse’s version of a full-court press. The strategy worked with a new-found energy and an offensive bonanza.

“We might have had a total of seven (offensive) possessions in the first half,” Corrigan said. “That’s kind of horrific.

“We knew we had to change that. We waited as long as we could and we went 10-men (complete pressure). You can’t do that the entire half. Your guys will just die.

“We changed the tempo of the game. Got some possessions and got the ball in space.”

When Matt Kavanagh gets in space, he feels right at home. The freshman scored half of Notre Dame’s fourth-period goals and had five for the game to lead the assault.

“We had a lot more possessions (in the fourth quarter),” Kavanagh said. “We forced a lot more turnovers. We had a lot more space when we picked up the ground ball.”

“The first three periods, we came out and took it to them,” said Detroit coach Matt Holtz. “At the end, we ran out of gas a little bit.”

Though the tank emptied prematurely, the journey was quite memorable. After just three regular-season wins, the Titans pulled off a couple stunners (Marist and Sienna) to win the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tourney title.

“Our motto the last 3-4 weeks has been, ‘Party On,’” said Holtz. “We’ve had fun. The first three quarters, we were having a lot more fun (than Notre Dame).”

The Titans were bouncing around on the sidelines; playing the air guitar to the music during timeouts; simply enjoying the moment.

Three goals by Brandon Beauregard and two from Alex Maini were instrumental in staking Detroit to its lead after 45 minutes.

“Our goal was to come out and score first just to shock (the Irish),” Beauregard said.

Actually, the Titans scored five of the first six to really put the Irish on their heels.

“I don’t think it’s panic,” Corrigan said. “I don’t think it worked out like panic. That’s pretty good execution for something we work on all the time for exactly those situations. I would say it was the farthest thing from panic.”

In the first 4 minutes, 50 seconds of the fourth quarter, Kavanaugh scored twice and Conor Doyle and Sean Rogers added one to tie the game. Kavanagh scored what turned out to be the game-winner with 5:27 to play.

Before Saturday, no team in NCAA Tournament history has ever scored one goal in the first half and won the game. Saturday, both Notre Dame and Yale (over Penn State) turned the trick.

Detroit2320 — 7
Notre Dame0126 — 9


D — Brandon Beauregard, 7:21

D — Alex Maini (Mike Birney) 4:47


N — Conor Doyle, 12:08

D — Maini, 10:45

D — Beauregard (Maini), 3:36

D — Birney, (Scott Drummond), 1:58


N — Sean Rogers, 10:19

D — Tom Masterson (Maini), 8:22

N — Matt Kavanagh (Rogers), 6:19

D — Beauregard (Thomas Sible), 4:57


N — Kavanagh, 14:12

N — Doyle, 13:16

N — Rogers (Jim Marlatt), 12:28

N — Kavanagh, 10:10

N — Kavanagh, 5:27

N — Ryan Foley (Rogers), 2:31

Shots: Notre Dame 30, Detroit 27; Saves: Notre Dame (John Kemp 10), Detroit (A.J. Levell 10); Ground balls: Notre Dame 30, Detroit 32; Records: Notre Dame 11-4, Detroit 5-10.

Notre Dame's Liam O'Connor, center, bobbles the ball during the first round of the NCAA men's lacrosse tournament match against Detroit on Saturday. At left is Detroit¿s Brandon Davenport.
Notre Dame's Matt Kavanagh (50), right, celebrates a score during the first round of the NCAA men's lacrosse tournament on Saturday, at Notre Dame.