2022 NCAA Lacrosse Preview: No. 5 Notre Dame (Men)

PHOTO BY RICH BARNES

The first sophomore to be recognized as a Tewaaraton Award finalist since 2017, Pat Kavanagh scored 26 goals and set a school single-season record with 38 assists in just 12 games.


The 2022 college lacrosse season is nearly upon us. As is our annual tradition, we’re featuring every team ranked in the Nike/USA Lacrosse Preseason Top 20.

Check back to USALaxMagazine.com each weekday this month for new previews, scouting reports and rival analysis.

NO. 5 NOTRE DAME

2021 Record: 8-4 (3-3 ACC)
Final Ranking (2021): No. 5
Coach: Kevin Corrigan (34th year)

The Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team was just one goal away from going back to championship weekend for the first time since 2015, falling to Maryland 14-13 in overtime in the 2021 NCAA quarterfinals.

While the Fighting Irish lost a bunch of stars — defensemen Jack Kielty and Kyle Thornton and faceoff specialists Kyle Gallagher and Charlie Leonard all were drafted by Premier Lacrosse League teams — they do return their top three scorers. Most notably Pat Kavanagh.

The first sophomore to be recognized as a Tewaaraton Award finalist since 2017, Kavanagh scored 26 goals and set a school single-season record with 38 assists in just 12 games. He was electric in a 10-point performance against Syracuse, regularly produced “SportsCenter”-worthy highlights and had everyone searching for their rulebook when he scored a goal with one shoe against Duke.

But he won’t be the only Kavanagh hoping to bring Notre Dame good fortune this year. Inside Lacrosse ranks freshman attackman Chris Kavanagh who as the No. 4 recruit in the 2021 class. Their older brother, Matt, graduated in 2016 as a four-time All-American and stars now for the PLL’s Redwoods.

“There are certain traits that are endemic to the Kavanagh family,” Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said. “They’re tough as nails, they’re competitive as they can be, they care way more about the team more than they care about themselves and they don’t take days off. In so many ways, they’re great teammates for each other and for everybody else as well. I wish the Kavanaghs had three more kids. We’d recruit them all.”

With 60 players, including 11 graduate students, listed on Notre Dame’s spring roster, depth and leadership will factor largely in its success. Many will never see the field, a common side effect of bloated lineups given the NCAA’s blanket waiver of eligibility to student-athletes affected by the cancellation of the 2020 season at the onset of the pandemic.

NIKE/USAL PRESEASON TOP 20
TEAM PREVIEWS

1. Virginia

2. Maryland

3. Duke

4. Georgetown

5. Notre Dame

6. North Carolina

7. Loyola

8. Yale

9. Penn

10. Rutgers

11. Lehigh

12. Denver

13. Army

14. Syracuse

15. Johns Hopkins

16. Delaware

17. Drexel

18. Cornell

19. Vermont

20. Bryant

“It takes good leadership for a team to continue to work and achieve when guys are not playing, and they continue to keep the right attitude,” Corrigan said. “We got guys that work extremely hard and care an awful lot about the success of our team and not their own success. That always comes with leadership. You can’t be successful without that kind of attitude.”

Entering his 34th season, Corrigan is the longest active tenured coach in NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse. Nothing prepared him (or anyone else, for that matter) for the challenges of coaching in the COVID-19 era. But this team, he said, has proven capable of ramping up quickly.

“There’s a lot of positive things that come out of the fall semester that makes me think this is a team that’s going to have a great chance to reach its potential,” Corrigan said. “At the end of the day, that’s the goal for every team. Every team can’t necessarily be a championship team or a final four team, but every team has the chance to reach its potential, so that’s what we’re geared toward.”

It's not Hartford or bust.

“You can’t think you’re going to sit here and make a schedule for the next few months and follow that schedule every day,” Corrigan said. “You’ve got to be ready to make the adjustments to whatever reality is going to come your way, and those are everything from guys missing practices to maybe games or trips being canceled or whatever the protocols that you put in place are. We try really hard to just stay grounded and make good decisions.”

It helps, of course, to have a Kavanagh or two in the wheelhouse.






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TOP RETURNERS

Liam Entenmann, G, Jr.

The junior goalie out of Point Lookout, N.Y., had a breakout season last year, starting all 12 games and finishing fourth in the country with a 58.5 save percentage. Entenmann's performance landed him on the 2021 All-ACC team, and he’s praised as one of the top goalies in the nation.

Pat Kavanagh, A, Jr.

Not only is the 2021 Tewaaraton Award finalist a top returner for Notre Dame. He’s one of the top returners in this country and takes every chance he gets to wow with his flashy play on the offensive end. Kavanagh scored 26 goals and racked up a Notre Dame single-season record 38 assists last season.

Griffin Westlin, A/M, Sr.

Westlin is coming off of a career-best season in which he was tied for second on the team in points (31), only finishing behind Kavanagh, who had 64.

KEY ADDITION

Jason Reynolds, D, Gr.

Reynolds, a transfer from Richmond, brings experience to the Irish defense, one which lost considerable talent to graduation. Reynolds played in 52 games for the Spiders, and he started in every single one.

BREAKOUT CANDIDATE

Morrison Mirer, M, Grad

While Mirer has suited up in 33 games for the Irish, Corrigan expects him to have a big season. Corrigan says the game has really “slowed down for Mo” and he thinks “he’s in complete control of his game in a way that he hadn’t been until the end of last year.”

ENEMY LINES

What rival coaches say about the Fighting Irish:

“Every year they’re in it, and they’re solid and they rarely beat themselves. Just a tough, tough team – physically tough and mentally tough.”

“As solid as it comes. They have a world team goalie who’s fantastic. They lost their whole defense, but they’re going to be solid offensively — they can put up points.”

“I think, for them, you wonder how losing those two faceoff guys will hurt them.”

BEYOND THE BASICS
POWERED BY LACROSSE REFERENCE

65%

Faceoffs were a huge strength for the Irish last season. With the loss of Kyle Gallagher and Charles Leonard, the stripe immediately switches into a huge question mark for Corrigan’s squad. To highlight how good their FOGOs were last year, we can split out their overall win rate based on whether a FOGO or a wing picked up the GB. When wings were involved, Notre Dame’s FO win rate was 57 percent (pretty good). When the FOGO picked up the GB, they won 65 percent of their faceoffs (really good). — Zack Capozzi

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