The first week of May through the first week of June was quite a whirlwind for Matt Kavanagh, a sophomore who led Notre Dame to the NCAA Division I men’s lacrosse national championship game and then toured Italy for 10 days with his Irish teammates and coaches.
“It was pretty crazy and hectic, but I had the best time of my life,” said Kavanagh, a Rockville Centre native and a 2011 Chaminade High School graduate who for a second straight season led Notre Dame in goals and assists. “It was a long journey from where we were at the beginning of the year,” he added. “We were one loss from not even making the tournament.”
The Irish fell to Duke, 11-9, in the championship game on May 26 at Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium. Kavanagh had two goals and one assist, giving him a team-high 42 goals and 33 assists for 75 points in 2014.
“Matt was clearly a huge part of the run we made,” Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan said. “He’s right in the middle of everything. He’s got tremendous skills and competitive spirit. He’s the type of player who makes everyone around him better.”
One of the most memorable games of Kavanagh’s collegiate career so far came in front of numerous family members and friends in the Division I quarterfinals at Hofstra University on May 17. He capped a furious comeback victory for the Irish by scoring in overtime to beat Albany, 14-13. Notre Dame trailed by as many as five goals in the second half.
“It was an amazing feeling to score the winner that put us into the Final Four,” Kavanagh said. “Coach Corrigan called timeout and drew up a great play.”
A week later, Kavanagh couldn’t be stopped by Maryland in the semifinals in Baltimore. He scored five goals and assisted on two others in a convincing win over the hometown Terrapins. “Matt doesn’t get distracted by anything, and he’s no one-trick pony,” Corrigan said. “His hands are terrific, he’s great in tight spots and he’s got toughness. He’s difficult to cover, whether he has the ball in his stick or not.”
Kavanagh’s five-goal performance against Maryland featured goals from the top of the box, two from the wing and one on a wraparound following a slick solo move behind the cage. “It was the third time we played Maryland this year,” he said. “We had a good idea of what they’d try to do.”
Kavanagh earned first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors and second-team All-American honors this season. In 2013 he was one of the top freshmen in the country, Corrigan said, and named first-team All-Big East after leading the Irish with 16 goals and 32 assists.
“It’s been an incredible two years, and I’m looking forward to the next two,” Kavanagh said.