Fall Ball Focus: Notre Dame Must 'Leave No Doubt' After NCAA Tournament Omission

PHOTO BY RICH BARNES

Pat Kavanagh led Notre Dame last season with 64 points on 25 goals and 39 assists.


The motivation for Notre Dame men’s lacrosse heading into the 2023 season was provided was back on May 8 — the day Kevin Corrigan and his program learned that, despite a six-game winning streak and an eye test that placed them firmly among the nation’s best, the Fighting Irish did not make the NCAA tournament.

Over the next few days, fans took to social media to discuss the perceived “snub” of Notre Dame, the program’s first omission from the NCAA tournament since 2005. As the dust settled and the summer commenced, Corrigan’s mind rested on one common theme.

Notre Dame needs to eliminate any question as to whether it belongs in the NCAA tournament.

“The biggest thing I’m taking from last season is that you don’t leave any doubt,” Corrigan said. “We feel like the decision was wrong but left enough doubt that we could be in that situation. Everyone’s aware of the situation, and they’re using that motivation in their own way.”

With one of the deepest offenses in the nation, led by Tewaaraton Award finalist Pat Kavanagh, and a defense that stands annually among the best in college lacrosse, the Irish have plenty of reasons to believe they won’t suffer the same fate.

LAST SEASON

On paper, last season was a rollercoaster ride that ended without an NCAA tournament berth. Notre Dame won its final six games, including wins over Duke (twice), North Carolina and Syracuse (twice), but early losses to tournament teams like Maryland, Georgetown and Ohio State kept it out of the postseason.

Kavanagh provided plenty of highlights, leading the team with 64 points on 25 goals and 39 assists. His brother, Chris, showed his blossoming star power with 22 goals. Jake Taylor returned from injury to score 27 goals in an inspiring season.







BIGGEST FALL QUESTION

How will transfers and juniors help solidify the Notre Dame defense?

Arden Cohen was the backbone of the Notre Dame defense for the better part of two seasons, but he’s taken his talents to Redwoods LC. A massive hole was created by his absence, but the additions of Chris Fake (Yale) and Chris Conlin (Holy Cross) should significantly aid this unit and add a veteran presence.

Notre Dame’s identity has been in its defense for years, and Corrigan will need that unit to continue the trend as it battles in the ACC next season. Names like Nick Harris, Carter Parlette and Quinn McCahon will form a short-stick d-middie unit that could be key.

MARQUEE ADDITION: CHRIS FAKE

Fake starred for Yale for four-plus seasons, breaking onto the scene during the 2018 national championship run by winning Ivy League Rookie of Year. He was a stalwart for the Bulldogs, but his eligibility forced him to look elsewhere for a fifth year.

He heads to South Bend hoping to fill the role once held by Cohen, anchoring the Notre Dame defense that will have its hands full in the ACC once again. It’s certainly a luxury to find a three-time All-American in the transfer portal.

BREAKOUT CANDIDATE: CHRIS KAVANAGH

The younger of the two Kavanaghs on Notre Dame’s roster (for now), Chris Kavanagh showed plenty of promise in his freshman season. He dropped 22 goals and dished out 11 assists as a secondary threat behind his brother.

Corrigan said Chris Kavanagh has been taking steps to ensure he’ll be a problem for opposing defenses throughout the 2023 season.

“He’s going to take a big step forward because he learned and worked hard to make himself stronger,” Corrigan said. “He’s going to be a better version of himself.”

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