(Re)Setting the Standard

Author: J.J. Post

Midfield Will Lynch collides with a Maryland player."
Courtesy of Notre Dame

It’s a good time to be a lacrosse fan at the University of Notre Dame. One of the school’s teams stands as the defending national champions, seeking to turn last season’s title into a repeat. The other looks poised to make a potentially special postseason run, armed with a roster loaded with extraordinary levels of experience.

For men’s lacrosse, the task is simple: repeat history. Until last year, Irish men’s lacrosse had never ascended to the sport’s mountaintop. They had come tantalizingly close on several occasions — most notably in 2010 and 2014 when they lost in each year’s respective championship game — but had never reached the elusive summit of a national title.

In 2023, that changed. Led by the dynamic fraternal duo of Pat and Chris Kavanagh, an anchor in net in Liam Entenmann and a bevy of other experienced contributors, Notre Dame battled their way back to the final stage — and this time surged over the top. Facing off against Duke, the team that had bested them in each of their first two title game appearances, the Irish left no doubt. A stellar 18 saves by Entenmann and a balanced attack (six different players recorded multiple goals) powered Notre Dame to a 13-9 win.

The next step? Defending their newly-earned crown. The Irish knew the title would put a target on their backs, a sign of respect from opponents looking to assert themselves. What better way to prove oneself than by dethroning the reigning champions?

Thankfully, Notre Dame entered 2024 well-equipped. Eight of the team’s 10 starters from their championship win over Duke returned for another year in South Bend. New faces — most notably freshmen Jordan Faison and Shawn Lyght as well as transfer Devon McLane — arrived, but the goal remains the same: to win it all.

So far the Irish have held serve in their quest to go back-to-back. An early-season loss to Georgetown has been followed up by three consecutive wins as of Mar. 16. Notre Dame faces a gauntlet of nationally-ranked opponents to end the regular season, but few teams on campus are more battle-tested against elite opposition.

While Notre Dame men’s lacrosse set out this spring to defend history, the women’s lacrosse team is looking to make it.

The 2024 season was, from a timeline perspective, always set to be a now-or-never year for Notre Dame women’s lacrosse. A remarkable 17 seniors and graduate students make up the Irish roster, giving the team’s lineup a collective experience few can match. The team’s top seven leaders in points are all seniors or older. The same applies to the team’s top three leaders in draw controls, and the defense is anchored by yet another senior, goalkeeper Lilly Callahan.

Led by veterans, women’s lacrosse has set about amassing a resume that stacks up with just about any year in program history to this point. Notre Dame dethroned defending national champions Northwestern, becoming the first team to defeat the Wildcats in just over a full calendar year. They also took down traditional powerhouse Boston College, the first win for the Irish in Chestnut Hill in more than two decades.

Irish women’s lacrosse haven’t reached the semi-finals of the Big Dance since 2006 and have never made the title game. Yet sitting at a 9-2 overall record as of Mar. 24, the team is poised to make a serious run in the NCAA Tournament. Spearheaded by a hungry core of seniors looking to make the most of their final season in South Bend, there’s never been a better time for Notre Dame to raise the program’s bar of postseason success.