When you play a team 3 times in one year, you get to know them very well. You know their tendencies, their major players and sets, and the game often can turn out to be cagey. And that's what Maryland-Notre Dame was expected to be. It was during short spurts, but ultimately it was a dominant all-around performance from Notre Dame and they prevailed 11-6 to earn a shot at the National Championship.
Notre Dame: All White
Maryland: Black Jerseys/White Shorts
Raffa won the opening FO for the Terps, but Notre Dame forced a turnover to take the first possession. Both teams turned it over on their opening possessions, and the Irish created a chance in transition but Amato saved comfortably. Maryland turned it over again on their next possession, after Connor Cannizzaro attempted one swim move too many. Notre Dame's next possession drew the first goal, with Kavanagh scoring after a back side feed. Maryland won the next FO, but committed another turnover, their 4th. Maryland turned it over yet again on their next offensive possession, the offensive looking completely out of sorts.
The Terps finally got on the board with 4:25 left, off a lefty bounce shot from Joe LoCascio. After Maryland turned it over off a Raffa FO win, the Terps defense forced a TO and went to work on offense. Connor Cannizzaro drew a shortie and took it right to the rack and finishes to tie it up at 2 with 2:05 left. Maryland won another FO, but the jitters from the Freshman continued with Rambo turning it over. It was apparent that the Freshman were letting the occasion get to them.
Notre Dame would score 2 times in the final 20 seconds through Kavanagh and then Ossello off the draw after a FO violation by Raffa.
The 2nd began with a flurry, with Ossello winning the FO and ND earning an early opportunity. The shot was a good one but Amato made a big save. Maryland went to offense and looked to create early and did, but Kelly made a huge save on an inside feed to Carlson. The Irish attacked in transition and created a step down chance for Doyle which he buried to make it 5-2 Notre Dame.
Maryland consistently got shots, and Kelly consistently made saves. The big difference in the early going was clearly how Conor Kelly was outplaying Niko Amato. The Terps offensive struggles continued, with Chanenchuk throwing it away on a key EMO. Notre Dame again used transition to score, with Kavanagh uncorking a low to high shot to make it 6-2. Maryland answered soon after with Joe LoCascio taking the initiative and ripping a shot low off a right alley dodge. Maryland continued to win face-offs, but could get nothing off of it. The Terps hesitated and turned it off. The defense forced a turnover of their own, but a yard sale check by the ND Dman took it away from a casual Cannizzaro. This was the a microcosm of the first half for UMD. Urgency = chances, goals. Hesitation = turnovers.
The final minutes of the half brought a scattered mess. Notre Dame nearly scored through Scioscia after Amato made a big save, but he landed in the crease. The Terps would get one of their one however, with Carlson tip toeing the creas and scoring. After the next FO, Charlie Raffa collapsed in a heap on the sideline and had to be carted off the field. The Terps drew a man up chance but couldn't convert, Kelly stuffing Cannizzaro at the back post. Notre Dame couldn't make it a 3 goal game with their last offensive possession, and we went to the half with Notre Dame up 6-4.
Maryland was extremely unfortunate to still be in the game. They were hesitant on offense, their clearing was struggling, the defense even looked stuck in mud at times. It was a bad effort. But they managed to stay in it, and with the score at 6-4 they still had a shot to make it to Memorial Monday
Raffa managed to will himself to go out there and won the FO, but the Terps again struggled to clear off of it, getting called for failure to advance. Notre Dame got on the board first at 12:19, through Ossello to make it 7-4. Maryland turned it over again off a FO, with Jon Garino taking the draws. After Dunn forced a TO on Doyle on the Irish's next set, Maryland held an extended set but couldn't get anything out of it, giving the ball back to Notre Dame. They would once again score early, with Amato getting caught behind his cage and Kavanagh depositing it in front to extend the lead to 4 and all but seal Notre Dame's spot in the Championship Game.
Maryland got a big goal from Henry West on a wormburner at 7:14 to cut the lead to 8-5. The Terps forced a TO on the Irish's next offensive set, but couldn't take advmsrahe themselves with Kelly saving from Cannizzaro. The Irish would score themselves soon after, with Kavanagh attacking from behind and beating Amato at 4:52 to make it 9-5. Notre Dame added another with Cotter finishing on the doorstep. The 3Q would end with the Irish doubling up the Terps 10-5, and Matt Kavanagh having a field day with 5 Goals and 2 Assists.
The 4th Quarter began with the Terps picking up the pace on offense, but not able to break through the wall Kelly had formed in cage. Maryland got it's first goal of the 4th, and the first from either team at 6:02 with Mike Chanenchuk scoring on a multiple chance possession. The game would finish 11-6, a fantastic all-around performance from Notre Dame to seal a spot in the Championship.
Ultimately I feel for the Seniors most. Amato, Chanenchuk, and Ehrhardt especially. They all put so much into this teams success and they deserved to go out with a title. It wasn't meant to be, but they still had unbelievable careers and accomplished a lot for themselves and Maryland lacrosse. Thank you guys.
I'd like to thank all of you who read my pieces this year and contributed in the comments. It's been a very fun year covering this team and talking about it with all of you. Go Terps!