No. 4 Maryland men’s lacrosse led No. 2 Notre Dame, 11-10, but with the final buzzer just minutes away, a single goal could change everything.
Maryland senior attackman Daniel Maltz scored a clutch goal with 3:50 remaining in the game, taking advantage of a gap in the Fighting Irish’s defense.
Now holding a two-goal lead, all Maryland needed to do was defend.
Unfortunately for the Terps, Notre Dame was not going away easy. Senior midfielder Reilly Gray scored his first goal of the game 36 seconds later, and then with less than two minutes on the clock, sophomore attackman Chris Kavanagh shocked the home crowd to tie the game.
The underclassman attempted to shake off junior defender Ajax Zappitello, lunged towards the cage and then flicked the ball over his right shoulder for the score.
Chris Kavanagh’s goal was the last piece of offense for nearly 12 minutes before attackman Pat Kavanagh ended the game in the third overtime. The senior, defended by graduate defenseman Brett Makar, dropped his shoulder and fired the ball toward the net.
Freshman goalie Brian Ruppel failed to come up with the save as the Terps’ defense dropped to their knees and watched Notre Dame celebrate the 13-12 win.
“The Kavanaghs are great players, and, you know, they’re guys that just make plays,” Maryland head coach John Tillman said. “I felt like, you know, we had a decent matchup, but those kids, they do make plays and I just felt like, you know, he just went to the goal and hit a good shot, and again, sometimes it goes your way sometimes it doesn’t.”
Maryland moved to 3-2 on the season with the loss.
“That atmosphere was great, the crowd was awesome today,” Tillman said. “Wish we could have gotten it done for the kids, but also the fans, but we’ll get back to work and try to see if we can keep improving.”
The top-five matchup got off to a surprising start as Notre Dame earned the first possession, the first time senior Luke Wierman lost an opening face-off this season.
The Fighting Irish were stumped on their first two possessions, though, as sophomore midfielder Dante Trader Jr. and Makar caused consecutive turnovers.
Junior midfielder Owen Murphy capitalized off his defense’s tremendous play, scoring the first goal of the game with 11:44 remaining in the first quarter.
Then, the Fighting Irish got hot. Notre Dame tallied three goals in less than two minutes, all of which were scored by a different player.
After missing back-to-back shots with hopes of responding, the Terps were gifted a man-up opportunity and took full advantage. With six minutes on the clock, Maryland quickly passed the ball around the attacking zone before finding Murphy. The junior took a few steps up and flung the ball into the cage, ending Notre Dame’s scoring run.
The Terps controlled the ball over the next three minutes, but could not find the back of the net.
With time winding down in the first quarter, senior midfielder Kyle Long got to work. Long attempted skip passes on consecutive possessions, each confusing the defense, and each resulting in a goal.
Ruppel recorded his first save of the game as the clock hit double zeros, securing Maryland’s 4-3 lead heading into the second quarter.
Notre Dame came into the second quarter firing, scoring two goals in the first two minutes and regaining the lead. The goals belonged to junior attackman Bryce Walker, his first of the game, and graduate midfielder Brian Tevlin, his second.
Neither team scored in the final 13 minutes of the second quarter, as the defenses were locked in. Ruppel finished the first half with five saves, and Notre Dame senior goalie Liam Entenmann finished with 10.
Similar to the first quarter, both offenses erupted in the third. The Fighting Irish scored three, but Maryland was able to score five, taking a one-goal lead heading into the final quarter of play.
Redshirt senior Jack Brennan opened up the scoring 50 seconds into the second half, and sophomore attackman Eric Spanos followed suit four minutes later.
The Fighting Irish immediately answered with a 3-0 run to regain the lead, with graduate midfielder Jack Simmons scoring two goals.
This lead did not last for long, however, as Spanos, sophomore attackman Zach Whittier and junior attackman Daniel Kelly each scored a goal, giving Maryland a 9-8 lead.
Maryland led, 12-10, with under four minutes remaining in regulation, but the Fighting Irish scored two goals in just over a minute to force overtime.
Neither team scored in the first two overtimes, but Pat Kavanagh ended the long-lasting game by netting a goal in with 2:06 remaining in the third overtime.
“I think we could’ve maybe executed a little bit better, but again, I always tip my hat to the team we’re playing against,” Tillman said.
Three things to know
1. Owen Murphy is thriving in his new role. After struggling to create efficient offense, Tillman thought the Terps needed a change, and that change came in the form of Murphy. Tillman moved Murphy from his traditional attackman position to midfielder against Princeton, and the switch made an immediate impact. The junior recorded one goal and one assist against the Tigers and helped clean up the sloppy passing. In his second game at midfielder, Murphy exploded for three goals and one assist.
2. The Kavanaghs were contained. Notre Dame scored 13 goals on Saturday, but Maryland’s defense limited the impact of Chris and Pat Kavanagh for most of the game. Chris Kavanagh came into the day averaging 4.00 goals per game, the sixth most in the nation, and Pat Kavanagh averaged 4.67 assists per game, the most in the nation. While the tandem scored two clutch goals to propel Notre Dame to victory, they combined for just four goals and two assists, well below their season averages.
3. Brian Ruppel held his own. Despite Notre Dame scoring 13 goals, Ruppel had a solid game against one of the nation’s premier offenses. The Fighting Irish averaged 18 goals per game through their first three games and had a .362 shot percentage, each ranking top-five nationally. Ruppel finished the game with 12 saves in what will be one of his hardest tests of the season.
“To play, you know, the No. 2 team in the country and be right there, I like where Brian’s going,” Tillman said. “I wouldn’t be surprised to see him again on Saturday.”