May 9, 2014
#11 HARVARD (10-6)
#5 NOTRE DAME (9-5) (#6 seed)
Saturday, May 10 – 2:30 p.m. (ET)
Arlotta Stadium – Notre Dame, Ind.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – In a season that has spanned 840 minutes, it’s been 29 seconds that have defined the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse campaign to this point.
Two weeks ago the Fighting Irish entered their ACC semifinal showdown with Maryland squarely on the NCAA tournament bubble, but a Matt Kavanagh goal with seven seconds remaining gave the Irish a 6-5 win that all but assured them a spot in the field. The Irish left no doubt about their postseason status two days later when goalie Conor Kelly snagged a Kevin Rice shot with two seconds left in the 15-14 triumph of Syracuse that secured the ACC’s automatic bid.
With an NCAA berth in their back pocket, the Fighting Irish entered last Saturday’s regular-season finale versus Army with a chance to lock up a first-round home game. The thrilling back-and-forth affair saw both teams match each other goal-for-goal until the score was knotted 17-17 in the final minute of regulation. The Black Knights had possession and a chance to go for the win, but Kavanagh and fellow attackman John Scioscia forced a turnover and Conor Doyle ended up scoring the game winner with just 20 seconds left.
Those three razor-thin wins helped the Irish (9-5) earn the No. 6 seed for the NCAA Championship and a first-round date with Harvard (10-6) on Saturday (2:30 p.m. ET at Arlotta Stadium). Winning in May is challenging, but the Irish have faced their fair share of obstacles this season.
“We’ve played one of the toughest schedules in the country and you do that to be prepared at this time of year,” Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan said. “I love the way our guys have battled all year. We’ve competed really, really well and we’ve improved over the course of the year. We won our last three games in three different ways: with an offensive play, a defensive play and a riding play. All of that is good and it helps you to be ready at this time of year.”
Playing at this time of year is something the Fighting Irish are quite accustomed to. Notre Dame and Maryland are the only two schools that have qualified for the NCAA Championship each of the last nine seasons and the Irish have advanced past the first round of the last four tournaments. Duke is the only other program that can claim that achievement.
Three of Notre Dame’s last four opening-round wins have come against an Ivy League school and the Irish will look to add another on Saturday against the Crimson. The Fighting Irish began their run to the title game in 2010 with an 8-5 victory at Princeton and Notre Dame captured first-round wins over Penn (13-6) in 2011 and Yale (13-7) in 2012.
Notre Dame has won its last seven showdowns with an Ivy League foe and the Irish are 4-1 against the conference in the NCAA tournament. The lone loss was a 9-3 decision at Harvard in 1990. That was Notre Dame’s inaugural NCAA appearance and the first-ever meeting between the Fighting Irish and Crimson. Since then, Notre Dame has gone 7-2 versus Harvard with the last encounter coming in 2003 (a 16-11 Notre Dame victory).
The meeting in 1990 featured a Harvard program that had existed for over a century against a Notre Dame squad that was in its 10th season of varsity play. Although the Irish fell that day in Cambridge, Mass., it was a milestone moment for the program and something it has built on. The Irish have made 18 more journeys to the NCAA tournament since then and now are a key figure on the national stage.
“We all came here to win a national championship and we got a little taste of what that feels like when we won the ACC tournament. We want to repeat that and walk out of here as winners,” senior defenseman and team captain Stephen O’Hara said.
O’Hara and his classmates are aiming to go 4-0 at Arlotta Stadium in NCAA tournament play. Notre Dame had never hosted a postseason game until 2008, but now they are welcoming a first-round opponent to South Bend for the sixth time. The Fighting Irish are 4-1 at home in the playoffs, including a perfect 3-0 mark in the stadium that opened in 2010.
“To see the stands full of fans on all sides is a lot of fun and a great environment to play a game in,” Corrigan said after the Army win which was played in front of a capacity crowd at Arlotta Stadium. “It adds a little bit of extra juice to a great experience.”
The Irish hope the fans flock to Arlotta Stadium once again on Saturday because any little advantage is welcome in a game that could go down to the final second.
— Sean Carroll, Assistant Athletic Media Relations Director
The University of Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team pursues excellence on and off the field through the three pillars in which the program is built: Character, Culture & Community. These three foundational values guide the promise of the program, which is to provide its student-athletes with the most compelling and enriching experience in all of college athletics. Through academics, competition, service and travel, the program aims to immerse its players in situations that enhance their student-athlete experience to help them become the people, students and teammates they aspire to be.
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