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No. 1 Maryland men's lacrosse vs. No. 7 Notre Dame preview

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The Terps head to South Bend, Indiana, for their second road game of the season.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Athletics

Last week, No. 1 Maryland men’s lacrosse moved to 4-0 on the season after a tough 15-10 victory over No. 20 Princeton.

Fifth-year attacker Logan Wisnauskas led the Terps with four goals and two assists and was named Big Ten Offensive Player of the Week. Junior faceoff specialist Luke Wierman tied career highs with 19 faceoff wins, 11 ground balls and two goals to earn Big Ten Specialist of the Week honors for the second time this season.

Maryland will hit the road for the second time this season in this weekend’s matchup against No. 7 Notre Dame. Saturday’s contest will be a rematch of the 2021 NCAA Tournament quarterfinals (the Terps’ last trip to Arlotta Stadium), when Maryland won after Anthony DeMaio scored a game-winning goal 39 seconds into overtime and sent the Terrapins to the Final Four.

Notre Dame looks to be one of the toughest road tests that Maryland has to face in 2022.

“It took us a few days after [the Notre Dame game] to get back. That was a really tough, physical game and I assume it will be the same thing this weekend,” head coach John Tillman said about the intensity of last year’s game.

Saturday’s game is scheduled to start at 2 p.m. and can be streamed live on ACC Network Extra.

No. 7 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (1-1)

2021 record: 8-4, 3-3 ACC

Kevin Corrigan is in his 34th season as the head coach of Notre Dame’s men’s lacrosse program. His illustrious tenure in South Bend, Indiana, has been defined by unprecedented success, as Corrigan has won 314 games at Notre Dame to make him Division I’s all-time winningest head coach at a single program. Despite not being able to capture an elusive national title, Corrigan has led Notre Dame to five Final Fours and has qualified for the last 15 NCAA Tournaments (Maryland is the only other school to appear in the last 15 NCAA Tournaments).

Notre Dame entered this season ranked No. 5 in the USILA Preseason Coaches Poll after coming within an overtime goal of advancing to the Final Four a year ago. The Fighting Irish started 2022 with an impressive 24-2 win against Detroit Mercy. In their first ranked matchup of the season, however, Notre Dame lost at home to No. 3 Georgetown 16-11.

Players to watch

Pat Kavanagh, junior attacker, No. 51 — Pat Kavanagh is the focal point of Notre Dame’s offense, and for good reason. In 2021, Kavanagh was one of the nation’s most tantalizing players. He ranked fifth the country in points per game, set the program record for assists in a season with 38 in just 12 games and was the first sophomore since 2017 to be named a Tewaaraton Award finalist. He even ranked third on the team in ground balls, only behind FOGOs. Kavanagh has started this season right where he left off, tallying 11 points in just two games. He will be one of the toughest individual matchups Maryland faces all season.

Chris Kavanagh, freshman attacker, No. 50 — It is almost impossible to separate the last decade of Notre Dame lacrosse from the Kavanagh brothers. After four-time All-American Matt graduated and moved to the professional ranks, Pat arrived in South Bend. Now Chris Kavanagh looks to be the next great Kavanagh brother, as he entered this season ranked as the No. 4 recruit nationally and top-ranked attackman by Inside Lacrosse.

“I was fortunate and had the experience played against [the Kavanaghs] in high school,” Maryland senior defenseman Brett Makar said. “Just great players and obviously a really, really good lacrosse family.”

Chris Kavanagh has hit the ground running as a freshman, scoring six goals and adding two assists in Notre Dame’s first two contests of 2022. His immense talent should make him a major factor in college lacrosse this season and for years to come.

Arden Cohen, graduate defenseman, No. 36 — Arden Cohen has established himself as one of the nation’s best defensemen, starting every game during his career and shutting down opponents at an impressive clip. He was an All-American in 2019 and had the best season of his career in 2021, earning All-American honors from Inside Lacrosse, USA Lacrosse Magazine and USILA. In his career, Cohen has gathered 128 ground balls and caused 39 turnovers. He is the defensive anchor of one of the nation’s most talented units.

Liam Entenmann, junior goalie, No. 44. Not unlike Maryland’s Logan McNaney, Liam Entenmann had a breakout junior season in 2021 as the starting goalie for the Fighting Irish. He led the ACC and ranked fourth nationally in both save percentage and goals allowed per game, earning him All-American and All-ACC honors. He dominated against Detroit Mercy with a save percentage of 81.8%, and despite a substandard performance against Georgetown he is still expected to be one of the nation’s best goaltenders and should be incredibly difficult for opponents to score against.

Strength

Defense. Throughout his long tenure, head coach Kevin Corrigan has established a reputation for stalwart defense. This year’s Notre Dame team is talented all over the field, but perhaps their strongest unit is their retooled defense. Arden Cohen is the team’s top returning defenseman after the graduations of All-Americans Kyle Thornton and Jack Kielty, but Richmond transfer Jason Reynolds and senior Carson Cochran have slid right into starting roles and performed well. Additionally, their short-stick defensive midfield unit is among the nation’s best, featuring graduate student and 2021 USILA Honorable Mention All-American John Hallenbeck and junior Nick Harris. All this talent, combined with an All-American in net and even offensive midfielders that have the ability to give opponents’ offenses trouble, creates a particularly difficult matchup for Maryland’s offense on Saturday.

Weakness

Faceoff experience. Last season, Notre Dame won over 60% of its faceoffs and was led by an experienced group of FOGOs. After losing graduates Kyle Gallagher and Charlie Leonard to the professional ranks, the Irish have a talented, but very inexperienced group of faceoff specialists this season. The team’s primary faceoff option so far has been freshman Will Lynch (Inside Lacrosse’s No. 2 faceoff recruit in 2021) and they have also turned to sophomore Colin Hagstrom at times. The duo went 18-of-24 on faceoffs in the season opener against Detroit Mercy, but they struggled mightily against Georgetown, losing 20 of the game’s 29 faceoffs.

Maryland’s Luke Wierman has won 65% of his faceoffs so far this season and junior Gavin Tygh has won over 50% of his opportunities, placing the Terps fifth nationally in Lacrosse Reference’s faceoff win rate while the Irish rank 39th. Tillman made it clear that his team isn’t taking faceoff preparation lightly this week, however.

“In terms of [Luke] coming in and thinking it’s going to be easy, I think he knows better. And I think our staff does too,” Tillman said.

Three things to watch

  1. Offensive production from the midfield. Both Maryland and Notre Dame have a plethora of offensive talent among their midfielders. Graduate Jonathan Donville is the Terps’ second leading scorer with 12 goals and two assists. Senior Kyle Long and fifth-year Anthony DeMaio have both scored four goals this season and are always capable of breaking out with a multi-goal game. For the Irish, graduate Morrison Mirer had four goals against Georgetown and sophomore Eric Dobson had two. Graduate Wheaton Jackoboice torched the Terps in last year’s quarterfinal matchup with four goals. While attackers like Logan Wisnauskas and Pat Kavanagh will receive much of the defensive attention, offensive midfield play could prove to be the difference on Saturday.
  2. Familiar foes. The Terps and the Fighting Irish will square off for the third straight season on Saturday, Maryland winning the last two. The aforementioned quarterfinal game from last season is sure to be a motivating factor for Notre Dame looking to avenge its loss. The Terrapins are 8-6 all-time against the Fighting Irish dating back to the first game between the two teams in 1995.

“There’s going to be a lot of emotion on both sides and both teams are really going to be excited to get another shot at each other,” Makar said. “The way the game was last year they’re going to be super excited to see us, and for us [it’s] a great opportunity and challenge.”

3. Bench contributions. While the starters get much of the praise, both Maryland and Notre Dame have deep rosters that include players coming off the bench who can be real difference-makers. Maryland had five non-starters tally points in last week’s game against Princeton, and Lacrosse Reference ranks Notre Dame’s roster as the deepest in all of Division I men’s lacrosse. With teams as talented as these two, there are always great competitors either stuck behind All-American caliber players or young and waiting to get an opportunity to prove themselves. By the end of the game, expect players not in either team’s starting lineup to have made real contributions that could affect the outcome of the game.