Maryland men’s lacrosse aiming for fifth title vs. Notre Dame

#7 Maryland 11-5 (3-2 Big Ten) vs #1 Notre Dame 15-1 (4-0 ACC)
When: Monday, May 27th • 12 PM
Where: Lincoln Financial Field, Philidelphia, PA
TV: ESPN: Anish Shroff (pxp) • Quint Kessenich (analyst) •Paul Carcaterra (sideline)
Betting: Maryland +3 • O/U: 22 • Maryland ML: +250 (DraftKings

Maryland men’s lacrosse is riding the hot hand as they look to avenge a second regular-season loss, this time against Notre Dame as head coach John Tillman looks to guide the program to its fifth all-time title.

We take a look at the matchup.

How we got here

Notre Dame’s home win vs. Maryland back on March 3 sparked an eight-game winning streak heading into the ACC Tournament before defeating Virginia and Duke to win it all.

The Irish have ridden the hot streak into the NCAA Tournament after beating Albany, Georgetown and Denver by at least five goals in each game.

Meanwhile, Maryland overcame a two-game losing streak to top Princeton in the opening round, 16-8. Then the Terps rode through the heart of the ACC after defeating Duke then Virginia to secure their 17th all-time championship appearance. Maryland outscored both ACC teams by a combined 26-17.

Recap of regular season matchup

Maryland was dismantled by Notre Dame in South Bend back in the regular season matchup as the Irish secured a 14-9 win in South Bend. Luke Wierman winning only 42% of his faceoffs was a big reason why the Terps struggled to mount a comeback, while six failed clears and 16 turnovers only made matters worse. Despite both Pat and Chris Kavanagh combining for just six points, the rest of Notre Dame’s offense was still able to win their matchups with Jake Taylor scoring four goals while Jordan Faison and Devon McLane scored three goals each.

Championship preview

Notre Dame is led by their two Tewaaraton finalists in Pat Kavanagh and Liam Entenmann. Kavanagh is the Irish’s “quarterback” of their offense and does most of his damage by feeding Notre Dame’s finishers. Chris, Pat’s brother, is his favorite target and enters Monday as the Irish’s leading scorer with 39 goals. Notre Dame’s offense is so good because the entire offense shoots well and they have midfielders that are great at winning their matchups to cause slides and get their attackmen open for easy goals. Terps star close defender Ajax Zappitello will likely be on Pat Kavanagh for most of the game on Monday. Zappitello was able to shut down Connor Shellenberger and the Virginia offense, buy simply shutting down Pat Kavanagh won’t slow down the Notre Dame offense.

Entenmann is widely considered the best goaltender in the country and he backs that up on the field as he enters Monday with a 56% save percentage. However, a big reason for Entenmann’s success is the fact that Notre Dame’s defense does not give up a lot of good looks. Shawn Lyght and Will Donovan are two massive pieces to the Irish defense. Though just a freshman, Lyght sits third on the team with 16 caused turnovers while he shut down Braden Erksa in he first matchup.

With Erksa coming out of the box instead of lining up at attack for the most part now, it will be interesting to see who Lyght matches up with in the championship game. Donovan leads the Irish with 19 caused turnovers while also 32 generating ground balls. If the Terps want a shot at beating the Irish in the championship game, they will need to take much better care of the ball. In the first half of the first matchup, the Terps turned the ball over 13 times. Avoiding another slow start like that will be crucial. 

Prediction: 10-9 Maryland

Two games in two days is never easy, especially when the second is against the nation’s top team. But Maryland has ridden the underdog role throughout the tournament and Monday will be no different. In fact, it’s familiar territory for John Tillman’s squads.

The last two teams to play in the second semifinal and win the title were none other than the 2017 and 2022 Terps. The Terps have been the betting underdogs in all three of the NCAA tournament games and that remains the case in this game. I see the Terps flipping the script from the regular season game just like they did against Virginia, but this time it’ll be for Terps to lift the national championship trophy.

Maryland and Notre Dame have met just twice in the postseason since John Tillman took over the program. Notre Dame won the first matchup 11-6 in the 2014 semifinals, while Maryland took the second matchup in a 14-13 overtime win in the 2021 quarterfinals in South Bend. The Terps lead the all-time series 9-7, while Tillman has a career record of 5-6 against Notre Dame. This will be a very physical, hard-fought, energy-draining game.

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