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Notre Dame Lacrosse finally accomplished what it hadn’t in the program’s illustrious history and senior star Pat Kavanaugh wasn’t going to miss this one, despite a lingering injury that has limited his postseason.
For the first time, the Fighting Irish are national champions. The No. 3 Notre Dame Fighting Irish defeated No. 1 Duke 13-9 on Monday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field to secure the 2023 NCAA national title.
Inheriting a program that had never earned a berth in the NCAA Championship, head coach Kevin Corrigan — in his 34th season with Notre Dame — has made the Irish a staple in the postseason. He has led the Fighting Irish to the NCAA championship weekend five times, including four appearances in the last nine seasons. Notre Dame finished as the national finalist in 2010 and 2014 and the Irish were national semifinalists in 2001, 2012 and 2015. Notre Dame has finished as NCAA quarterfinalists nine times under Corrigan (1995, 2000, 2008, 2011, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2021).
But on Memorial Day, Corrigan and the Irish — with maybe a sprinkle of that famous luck and even an angel on their side — brought the first men’s national title game to South Bend.
While Pat Kavanagh has been named a 2023 Tewaaraton Finalist, marking the second time in his career he has earned the distinction, the Irish star fought through a hamstring injury Monday and was doubtful heading into the biggest game of his career. His younger brother Chris scored twice in the matchup, but Pat’s presence and willingness to fight through his injury was a clear motivator for his teammates.
He wasn’t missing this one.
The most impressive part was the story Pat shared when interviewed by ESPN after the monstrous victory.
Pat Kavanaugh was asked how he was able to fight through a lingering injury and play. The senior’s response was beyond inspiring.
“A text message from a teammate last night was about Mike Day, a Navy Seal who took about 20 shots and a grenade, and he still got up and killed two of his enemies,” Kavanaugh shared. “And if this guy can do this, you can play through a little hamstring injury. That was all the motivation I needed, and on Memorial Day, I couldn’t be prouder.”
That’s amazing perspective from a college athlete — in a big moment — to acknowledge the importance of our nation’s heroes and the sacrifices they make on a daily basis just so we can have the ability to safely watch and play sports.
Kavanaugh gets it. And as a senior leader for Notre Dame, his presence clearly played a role in the win.
Mike Day died earlier this year, but his heroic story can be found here.
South Bend will be nuts tonight, that’s for sure, but Day’s memory will live on forever.