NCAA lacrosse semifinals: Notre Dame rolls Denver, Maryland tops Virginia for title game spot


PHILADELPHIA – Semifinal Saturday at the NCAA men’s lacrosse championships produced little in the way of high drama. But the resulting title showdown Monday matching the two most recent winners perhaps holds more promise. Defending champ Notre Dame and 2022 titlist Maryland each posted convincing victories Saturday before a crowd of 32,269 at Lincoln Financial Field.

Top-seeded Notre Dame used a huge second half and a dominant performance by face-off specialist Will Lynch to pull away from No. 5 Denver 13-6. After holding a slim 5-4 lead at halftime, the Fighting Irish (14-1) outscored the Pioneers 4-1 in the third quarter. A goal by Joshua Carlson 1:23 into the fourth pulled Denver (13-4) within three at 9-6, but a three-goal burst by the Irish spanning just 61 seconds, including a pair by Devon McLane, effectively put it out of reach.

As usual, the Kavanagh brothers led the offensive charge for Notre Dame. Pat Kavanagh recorded five points on three goals and a pair of assists, while younger brother Chris also had a hat trick and a helper. McLane also finished with three goals on the day. But Lynch was the real MVP, winning 18 of 23 faceoffs while also recording eight ground balls and an assist as the Irish possessed the ball for most of the second half.

Liam Entenmann was also solid in goal for Notre Dame with 12 saves. His counterpart, Malcolm Kleban, did his best to keep the Pioneers in it with nine first-half saves, but he only managed one stop after intermission as the defense in front of him wore down.

Notre Dame's Chris Kavanagh celebrates after a semifinal victory against Denver.
Notre Dame's Chris Kavanagh celebrates after a semifinal victory against Denver.

Richie Connell and Michael Lampert each scored twice for the Pioneers. DU’s leading scorer J.J. Sillstrop was kept off the scoresheet entirely as Notre Dame’s defense prevented any kind of flow for the Denver attack.

No. 7 Maryland ran away from No. 6 Virginia 12-6 in the second semifinal. The Terrapins (11-5) built a 4-1 lead in the first quarter, and a pair of goals 20 seconds apart early in the third quarter for a 9-3 lead effectively ended any suspense. Connor Shellenberger got Virginia (12-6) on the board first just 55 seconds into the game, but he was held to just a single assist the rest of the day.

Daniel Kelly led a balanced Maryland attack with three goals, with Eric Spanos chipping in two goals and three assists.

It was the Terrapins’ stifling defense, however, that ruled the day. While Ajax Zappitello kept Shellenberger in check, fellow long pole Colin Burlace contributed a goal and an assist in transition. The unit was backed by Logan McNaney, who recorded eight saves in the Maryland goal. The Terrapins will be seeking their second title in three years and third since 2017.

In Sunday’s women’s final in Cary, North Carolina, Northwestern is also seeking a repeat championship. The Wildcats (18-2) outlasted Florida 15-11 Friday in a lightning-interrupted semifinal. They’ll take on No. 2 Boston College (19-3), a 10-7 winner over No. 3 Syracuse in Friday’s other semifinal. Both the women’s and men’s final can be seen on ESPN. Opening draw for the women is set for noon ET on Sunday, with the men to face off at 1 p.m. ET Monday.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NCAA lacrosse scores: Notre Dame, Maryland win semifinals