April 26, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Two hours after being named a nominee for the Tewaaraton Award, Notre Dame's Matt Kavanagh delivered the game-winning goal with just seven seconds left in Friday's 6-5 triumph over Maryland in the semifinals of the ACC Championship.
The sophomore attackman is one of 28 standouts selected as nominees for the player-of-the-year award. Kavanagh, who was named to the All-ACC Team earlier this week, leads the Fighting Irish in goals (24) and assists (23). He has five hat tricks this season, including a seven-goal output against Ohio State.
This is the fourth straight season Notre Dame has had a nominee for the Tewaaraton Award. Former Irish All-America goalie John Kemp was a nominee each of the last two years. Kavanagh is the first Notre Dame attackman to be named a nominee since Pat Walsh in 2005.
The nominees will be trimmed down to five finalists in May. Notre Dame has never had a Tewaaraton Award finalist.
NICE HOMECOMING FOR KELLY
Junior goalie Conor Kelly, a Philadelphia area native (St. Davids), made 12 saves against Maryland on Friday at PPL Park in Chester, Pa. He and the Fighting Irish defense limited Maryland to its lowest goal output of the season and the Terrapins only scored once over the final 26:15 of the contest.
"It was really nice coming home; this was our second time playing at PPL," Kelly said. "It's always nice to come back to Philly and play in front of the hometown crowd."
"We really did a great job defensively," Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan said. "Our defense is based on good communication and good decision making. I do think there was some advantage for us in playing a team (Maryland) for the second time in the last seven days. It gave us a chance to get a little bit better at our communication and decision making against what they were doing. And we got some big saves."
Kelly started the first three games of the season, but was replaced by freshman Shane Doss midway through the North Carolina game on March 1. Kelly earned the starting nod once again last Saturday against Maryland and made a career-high 14 saves in the 12-8 setback to the Terrapins.
"I just tried to keep my head in it all season," Kelly said. "I just tried to keep my same approach and keep my mind in it and do everything I could for the team. When my time came I tried to make the most of it."
"There is nothing more disappointing than what happened to him, but if you were at our practices every day, you would have never seen a second of that from the first moment until eight days ago when I told him he was going to get the start in the game last week," Corrigan said. "He did what a good teammate and a good young man does, he worried about getting himself better and worried about supporting his teammates and preparing himself for the opportunity should it come back his way. That's all you could ever ask of anybody in that situation. I couldn't be more happy for him or more proud of him for the way he's handled this from then until right now."
CORRIGAN ON THE CUSE
Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan shared some thoughts on Sunday's ACC title-game showdown with fellow league newcomer Syracuse following Friday's dramatic come-from-behind win over Maryland. The Irish fell to the Orange, 11-10, on March 29 inside the Carrier Dome.
"We didn't do well facing off against them (Syracuse) the first time we played and that was a little bit of a surprise. We didn't expect to get beat up in the faceoff game with them, but to their credit they did a lot of things to kind of scrap and get some possessions out of that area of the game. We can do a better job there."
"I think we can do a better job at the defensive end than what we did the last time, but the challenge is real. You can see how quickly they can make plays at the offensive end of the field. They have a lot of guys who can do it. We'll get a look at some film and mainly watch ourselves. It's nice to play people for a second time because you're not extrapolating off of the little things you know about them like how did they do this against Duke or do that against Maryland; it's how did they do that against us and how were they successful and how were they not and what changes do we have to make knowing how we match up with them athletically and in terms of schemes. It just is a much easier preparation."
"These are two teams who looked dead in the water. It was us a week ago and them a month ago and now here we are in the championship game. I think every team in this conference is so good, so talented and so well coached and battle tested."
"We had our backs to the wall a little bit (going into Friday's game against Maryland). I don't think if we lost that game we're out of the (NCAA) tournament, but it sure is a harder road and we're looking for a lot of help from a lot of other people. Now we're in a position to put ourselves in the tournament with a win on Sunday and not have any question about it."