No. 4 Maryland men’s lacrosse will face its toughest opponent yet on Saturday when No. 2 Notre Dame comes to College Park.
The Terps moved up five spots in Inside Lacrosse’s media poll this week after a dominant win over then-No. 3 Princeton.
Maryland got off to a solid start against the Tigers, scoring its first goal less than three minutes into the game, and then another one right before the first quarter ended. Princeton got on the board early in the second quarter, but the Terps were able to respond before the intermission, holding a 3-1 lead heading into halftime.
After a highly defensive first half, Maryland’s offense erupted in the third quarter. Led by senior attackman Daniel Maltz, who had four goals in the game, the Terps stretched their lead to seven and gained full control.
Maryland’s defense withstood back-to-back Princeton goals to begin the fourth quarter, ultimately defeating the Tigers, 11-5.
The emphatic win improved the Terps’ record to 3-1 and thrusted Maryland back into the national spotlight.
Now, the Terps’ focus has shifted to Saturday, where another challenging matchup against Notre Dame awaits them. The game will start at 1 p.m. and be streamed on Big Ten Plus.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (3-0)
2022 record: 8-4 (5-1 ACC)
Head coach Kevin Corrigan is in his 35th season with the Fighting Irish and is the longest-tenured coach in Division I men’s lacrosse. He has helped build Notre Dame into an elite program and holds a 324-157 career record, making him Division I’s all-time winningest head coach at a single program. Prior to Corrigan’s arrival, the Fighting Irish had never appeared in the NCAA Tournament, but have now made it to Championship Weekend five times, four of which came in the last 10 seasons.
Notre Dame finished with an 8-4 record in 2022 and closed out the year on a six-game winning streak, but failed to make the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2005. Corrigan and the Fighting Irish are on pace to get back into the tournament this season, though, defeating all three of their opponents.
Players to watch
Pat Kavanagh, senior attackman, No. 51 — Kavanagh has been one of the most potent offensive players in the nation since his freshman season in 2020. He led the team in points in each of his previous three seasons and currently has 17, which is good for second on the team. Kavanagh broke his own program record for assists in a single season last year with 39, adding 25 goals. He may not be the best scorer Maryland will face this year, but he is certainly the best playmaker, ranking first in the country in assists per game (4.67).
Chris Kavanagh, sophomore attackman, No. 50 — Corrigan struck gold with the Kavanagh brothers, as Chris Kavanagh is the next Notre Dame legend. As a freshman, he finished second on the team in points (33), tallying 22 goals and 11 assists. This season, Chris Kavanagh has one more point than his brother (18), and earns most of them through goals, tallying 12 in his first three games.
Liam Entenmann, senior goalie, No. 44 — Similar to the Kavanaghs, Entenmann has started every game since his freshman season. He was named to the All-ACC Team last year — his second time earning this honor — after recording a 0.572 save percentage, 13.25 saves per game and 10.5 goals allowed per game.
Experience. Six of Notre Dame’s 10 starters from 2022 returned for this season, five of which have started every game they have played since joining the team. Notre Dame did not make the NCAA Tournament last year, but all of its upperclassmen have postseason experience. Maryland fans will show out for Saturday’s game, but the Fighting Irish should be prepared to handle the hostile environment.
Defense. Notre Dame does not have many weaknesses, but its biggest question mark is defense. While Entenmann is a brick wall in the cage, the Fighting Irish lost all three of their starting close defenders from last year. Notre Dame has only allowed 8.67 goals per game this season, but its defense will be tested against the Terps.
Three things to watch
1. Can Maryland’s defense hold strong against the Kavanaghs? The Kavanagh brothers are one of the best tandems in Division I men’s lacrosse, but the Terps’ defense is coming off their best performance of the season. Maryland held Princeton — who came into the day averaging 18 goals per game — to just five goals, also causing 12 turnovers and scooping up 32 ground balls. The Terps will have to mirror last week’s performance if they want to stop Notre Dame and the Kavanaghs.
“The Kavanaghs ride so well. They really hustle and they get second chance opportunities,” head coach John Tillman said. “So, we’re doing a lot in practice to try to be able to clear the ball the first time. We’re doing a lot on ground balls, especially in our own end.”
2. How will Brian Ruppel hold up? Tillman made it clear on Thursday that freshman Brian Ruppel will be the starting goalie, saying, “[It would] be hard to really go away from Brian at this point.” Ruppel had a phenomenal collegiate debut against the Tigers — recording 14 saves and a .737 save percentage — but will have another tall task with the Fighting Irish on deck. Notre Dame ranks second in the nation in goals per game (18.00) and fourth in shot percentage (.362).
3. Can the Terps continue to dominate face-offs? The biggest advantage Maryland holds over the Fighting Irish comes in the form of face-offs. The Terps hold a 67-29 face-off record, with senior Luke Wierman winning 65 of them, while Notre Dame has a 44-46 record. If Wierman can continue his face-off magic, the Terps have a shot to emerge victorious.