PHILADELPHIA — Notre Dame attacker Chris Kavanagh dodged from behind the crease, forced Maryland close defenseman Colin Burlace behind a pick, zipped topside, and fired a short shot high past Terps goalie Logan McNaney on the doorstep.

On the sideline, Maryland coach John Tillman could only purse his lips as he watched the replay on the scoreboard on the north end of Lincoln Financial Field. He may have suspected what was coming next. It was the second quarter, and the Fighting Irish were starting to pull away and show what made them the top-ranked team in the country for much of this college lacrosse season.

They stayed there in the end, too.

Brothers Chris and Pat Kavanagh combined for 11 points, the Irish won just enough faceoffs against Maryland’s Luke Wierman, and after jumping out to an early two-goal lead, the Terps couldn’t keep up with the impressive Irish or get past goalie Liam Entenmann much the rest of the way in a 15-5 loss to Notre Dame in the Division I men’s national title game.

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Seventh-seeded Maryland, which finishes with an 11-6 record, entered as the underdog for the third straight NCAA tournament game. The Terps came out hot in a matchup that was delayed more than two hours on Monday afternoon because of weather, but the Terps looked overmatched as things went on, as many teams have against the well-balanced and deep Irish (16-1), who won their second national title in a row.

Notre Dame's Chris Kavanagh controls the ball against Maryland's Jackson Canfield. The Fighting Irish beat the Terps 15-5 to win the 2024 men's lacrosse national championship. (Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

“For the last two years, they have been the best team,” Tillman said. “They were the most consistent team all year. They proved it… Someone said they have 11 All-Americans. It felt like it today. They play very poised and unselfish. They’re buttoned-up defensively, super-athletic, awesome in the goal and really, really good at the faceoff X. They don’t have any weaknesses. I knew it would be a big challenge.”

Maryland’s five goals were the second-fewest scored by a team in an NCAA D-I men’s championship game, and the Terps scored only one goal in the second half, bringing an early realization to the outcome of what was an unlikely run to the title game after posting an underwhelming 8-4 regular season record and not even winning the Big Ten championship.

“You realize in that moment that it’s over,” said senior attacker Daniel Kelly (Calvert Hall) said of the team’s final post-game huddle. “That locker room will never be the same. All 50 of us are probably never going to be in the same room again. That’s what’s hard. We’re proud of what we were able to do, Nobody believed in this group besides the 50 guys and coaches we had in the locker room.”

The Terps led 2-0 less than four minutes in on a Kelly goal. After a 3-0 Notre Dame run that followed — foreshadowing things to come — Maryland senior midfielder Jack Koras (Loyola Blakefield) tied the score at three off a Wierman faceoff win.

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But from there, it was mostly all Notre Dame, which runs three midfield lines (versus the typical two) and showed its depth on a quick turnaround from Saturday’s semifinal round. While Wierman won 11 of 16 first-half faceoffs, the Terps offense sputtered after the fast start and went nearly 20 minutes without scoring until a man-up goal from Eric Malever, assisted by Koras, with 1:15 left before half. Notre Dame still led 10-4.

In the first two quarters, Maryland committed 11 turnovers — something it didn’t do in a relatively clean performance in the semifinals against Virginia. “You just can’t do that with a team like that,” Tillman said. “You can’t keep giving the ball back. We had all these short possessions. We needed to help our defense … because they were getting tired. When we started getting tired, we made some mistakes, and they made us pay.”

Notre Dame put 23 first-half shots on goal to Maryland’s 15 as Irish grad student goalie Entenmann (16 saves) settled in as the brilliant Kavanagh duo shined.

Chris Kavanagh, a Notre Dame junior, scored five goals and was named the tournament’s most outstanding player. The most spectacular was probably a backhanded rip against Colin Burlace (St. Mary’s) for a goal that gave the Irish a 9-3 lead with 5:27 before halftime. Kavanagh’s older brother, a grad student, had the assist, one of his six helpers.

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“A lot of our game is very instinctual,” Pat Kavanagh said, “[but] that stuff you see out there on game days, behind-the-backs, around-the-worlds … we practice that [creative] stuff. We don’t just pull that out of our back pocket.”

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The story continued in the second half. When Kelly scored his second goal of the game with 30 seconds in the third quarter, the Terps’ final tally, it snapped another, roughly 15-minute drought for Maryland.

Wierman, the grad student and Maryland’s all-time faceoff wins leader, finished 17-for-24 on draws in his final collegiate game for the Terps, getting the better of Notre Dame’s Will Lynch, but the Irish defense stifled Maryland’s offense. “They had a lot to say about it,” Tillman said. “They are long. They’re athletic. They get to your hands and can make you turn the ball over.”

“It was tough for us to draw slides,” Kelly said, and Entenmann, a 6-foot-3 grad student goalie, came up with saves if the Terps did manage a shot. “Hats off to Liam. I don’t think we shot particularly well, but he doesn’t have any weaknesses. You think you have a great look, but he closes in on it pretty quickly. He takes a lot of net up.”

On the other end, the Irish offense picked apart the Terps defense. “A huge part of the game was being able to get leverage on their short-sticks [defenders] and cause them to slide around. That makes everything a little bit harder and gets our shooters in space,” said Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan, who has now led the Irish to consecutive championships after going without one in his first 34 seasons.

Will Angrick (Georgetown Prep), a junior midfielder for Notre Dame, scored the Irish’s first goal. McNaney had 10 saves, all of them in the second half with the outcome mostly not in doubt.

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The loss is Maryland’s sixth defeat in a national title game under Tillman since he became coach in 2011. The Terps won in 2017 and went a perfect 18-0 in 2022. With Notre Dame winning it all last year, that made Monday’s matchup a meeting of the last two national title winners. But the Irish looked like the better team most of this year.

Notre Dame hadn’t lost since an overtime defeat to Georgetown way back on Feb. 25. The Irish began a 13-game win streak — with a 14-9 win over Maryland in South Bend — on March 3. Meanwhile, the Terps lost four more times from there, including 19-9 in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament, in a game in which the leading-scorer, sophomore Braden Erksa, was stretchered off the field with injury when his head slammed into the turf. Erksa ran out of the box as a reserve midfielder since, seeing limited playing time.

Despite that, the Terps nabbed the seventh seed in the 17-team postseason (somewhat controversially) but then put together three straight NCAA tournament wins (over Princeton, second-seeded Duke, and sixth-seeded Virginia on Saturday in the semifinals) for the chance to play on Memorial Day.

An announced crowd of 31,479, the 11th-largest in NCAA D-I title game history, watched — eventually.

The NCAA moved up the game’s original 1 p.m. start time by an hour to avoid forecast storms, but it wasn’t quite early enough. After the national anthem, around noon, the teams headed back to the locker room rather than the field because of a thunderstorm moving into the area, and the opening faceoff didn’t happen until 2:10 p.m.

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During the delay, as music blared in the Terps’ locker room, the mood was fairly light in the tunnels outside it at the home of the NFL’s Eagles, though the task at hand was still in front of everyone.

Some players interacted with young fans in the front rows of the stadium. Others played wall ball against the white-painted concrete stadium tunnel walls. Tillman ate a slice of pizza and shrugged his shoulders in the direction of a few media members as if to say, “What are you going to do?” while senior defender Ajax Zappitello, tasked with covering Pat Kavanagh, and Burlace paced outside the locker room.

“Strange day today with the way it started,” Tillman said afterward. “It was almost fitting. It was such a crazy year. … The kids stayed focused and came out and did a really good job. [We] couldn’t sustain it, but you have to give Notre Dame credit.”

With rain coming down, the teams retook to the field for a 20-minute warmup before finally starting. By then, the Terps were fired up, with some launching their sticks onto the field upon emerging from the tunnel. They soon built a very early lead, but Notre Dame was just too strong as it has been all season, leaving everyone in black and red fighting back, fitfully, at what had seemed inevitable.

“We knew what was going to happen. We knew late that we weren’t coming back, but we had to play to the whistle. It’s what we’re about, it’s who they are, and that’s what we need to do forever,” Tillman said. “Don’t want to end up on that side of it, but I’m thankful for the guys to get us here.”

Boston College rallies to win women’s title

Second-seeded Boston College overcame a 6-0 first-quarter deficit to beat top-ranked Northwestern 14-13 in a thrilling NCAA Division I women’s championship on Sunday in Cary, North Carolina.

The Eagles (20-3), who lost to Northwestern 18-6 in last year’s title game, took their first lead with 9:39 left, went ahead 13-11 with 5:55 to go on senior Kayla Martello’s game-high fifth score, and took a 14-12 advantage with just over four minutes left.

Northwestern sixth-year attacker Izzy Scane, the Division I women’s all-time career goals leader, scored the Wildcats’ final four goals, including one with 55 seconds left that set up a chance to tie when Northwestern (18-3) won the ensuing draw.

Boston College sophomore goalie Shea Dolce was the hero after that. She made a pair of saves in the final minute, including an incredible stop with her left leg with seconds to go that clinched the Eagles’ second national title in program history.

Junior defender Sammy White (Dulaney) had four draw controls for Northwestern.

Corey McLaughlin is a veteran writer and editor who has covered sports in Baltimore for a decade, including for Baltimore magazine, USA Lacrosse Magazine and several other publications.