CHESTER, PA. — The title game of the Atlantic Coast Conference men's lacrosse tournament will have a Big East tinge to it.
Sophomore attackman Matt Kavanagh scored a goal with 6.5 seconds left in regulation to propel fourth-seeded Notre Dame to a 6-5 tournament upset of top-seeded Maryland before an announced 4,137 at PPL Park on Friday night.
The Fighting Irish improved to 7-5 and advanced to Sunday's title game at 1 p.m. against third-seeded Syracuse.
The Orange (10-3) — who, like Notre Dame, moved from the Big East to the ACC this season — stunned second-seeded and reigning national champion Duke, 16-15, in the first semifinal. Sophomore attackman Dylan Donahue scored with 1 second left in regulation to cap a 6-1 game-ending run and help Syracuse avenge a 16-10 loss to the Blue Devils in last year's NCAA tournament final and a 21-7 setback on March 23.
While the first semifinal featured plenty of scoring, the Terps — The Baltimore Sun's No. 5 team — and No. 10 Fighting Irish were content to muck up their showdown. Both teams combined for just one goal in the first quarter and three each in the second and third periods.
No Maryland player recorded more than one point. Senior attackman Mike Chanenchuk, who scored three goals and added one assist in the Terps' 12-8 victory over Notre Dame on Saturday in South Bend, Ind., took eight shots, but was shut out by senior defenseman Stephen O'Hara.
Freshman attackman Connor Cannizzaro, who also recorded three goals and one assist in that regular-season meeting, was limited to just one goal by sophomore defenseman Matt Landis.
Terps coach John Tillman credited the Fighting Irish with concentrating on Chanenchuk.
"I think they had a pretty good bead on Michael," Tillman said. "Michael puts a lot of pressure on himself to be our leader — to a fault sometimes. But I think he cares so much about the team, I think he feels like he needs to be the guy making sure we are where we are. I think he just wants to help the team and try to create some offense and some opportunities. … I'm sure he'll bounce back next Saturday [against Navy]."
Fighting Irish coach Kevin Corrigan said he thought Chanenchuk and Cannizzaro capitalized on non six-on-six opportunities in the first game.
"I thought in the game the other day, our guys matched up really well with them," Corrigan said. "I think Stephen O'Hara and Matt Landis in both games did a really good job. I think those guys got on the board in the last game, but in some different ways, not so much through their six-on-six [offense]. They're very good players, and they're very opportunistic, and when they do have those matchups, they were able to be really effective. I thought our guys did a terrific job on them today."
Kavanagh, who posted two goals and four assists a week ago, scored just one goal, but it was the game-winner. After Chanechuk had the ball stripped, junior short-stick defensive midfielder Jack Near picked up the ground ball and raced into the Terps' defensive zone.
Near passed the ball to Kavanagh streaking down the right alley, and he placed the ball inside the left post.
"When Jack Near is in the open field, no one is going to catch him," Kavanagh said. "I was kind of close to the midfield line. So I just sprinted to an open spot, and I was lucky enough to get a great pass from Jack. My guy slid, so I was open on the back side."
Maryland owned a 4-1 advantage with 11:15 left in the third quarter when Cannizzaro drove down the left alley and nailed the top right corner of the net.
But the Fighting Irish went on a 3-0 run, tying the score at 4-4 when sophomore attackman Eddy Lubowicki scored a man-up goal with 13:06 left in the fourth quarter.
Senior attackman Rustin Bryant (Hereford) gave the Terps a 5-4 lead with a man-up goal of his own with 9:31 remaining, but Notre Dame needed just 61 seconds to tie it up again with junior attackman Conor Doyle (Gilman) curling around the right post.
No. 4 Syracuse 16, No. 2 Duke 15: Donahue scored his fourth goal of the game with 1 second left to help the Orange overcome a 14-10 deficit early in the final quarter. Junior attackman Kevin Rice led all scorers with eight points on three goals and five assists, and the Orange improved to 5-0 all-time in conference tournaments. The school won Big East tournament crowns in 2012 and 2013. The loss spoiled a three-goal, two-assist showing by sophomore attackman Case Matheis.