NOTRE DAME, IND. - Matt Kavenaugh scored on a wild scramble off a face-off just 15 seconds into the third overtime period to lift No. 2 Notre Dame to a 10-9 victory over No. 11 North Carolina at Arlotta Stadium Saturday afternoon. Notre Dame scored the last four goals of the game to erase a 9-6 North Carolina lead as Notre Dame's defense held Carolina without a goal for the final 16:44 of the game. The Irish twice scored in the last minute of regulation to force overtime.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Tar Heels who fall to 2-2 on the season. In both UNC losses Carolina had three-goal leads against UMass and Notre Dame in the fourth quarter of games only to see its opponents tally the last four goals of the game. UNC must regroup by next Saturday when the Tar Heels meet No. 12 Princeton at Fetzer Field at 12 noon. Notre Dame remains undefeated as the No. 2 Irish improve to 3-0 on the season.
Freshman Matt Kavanagh was the hero of the game for Notre Dame as he scored four goals and had two assists. He scored the game-tying goal with 11.8 seconds to play in regulation and then scored the game-winning goal 15 seconds into the third overtime. Sean Rogers had two goals and an assist for the Irish and Conor Doyle had a goal and two assists. Rogers' goal with 57.4 seconds left in regulation had pulled the Fighting Irish within one goal.
Jimmy Bitter had a goal and three assists for UNC while Joey Sankey had two goals and an assist. Both Steve Pontrello and Marcus Holman had a pair of goals for UNC. Spencer Parks had a goal and an assist.
It was the first multiple overtime game for UNC since it beat Navy in a six-overtime game 11 years ago.
Notre Dame outshot the Tar Heels 40-31 on the day. Kieran Burke had an excellent day in goal for UNC, making 15 saves, including two in the second overtime period that kept the Tar Heels in the match. John Kemp had 11 goals for Notre Dame.
Notre Dame had 19 turnovers to only 14 for the Tar Heels but five of Carolina's 14 turnovers were from failed clears. Notre Dame dominated the face-off X, winning 17 of 26 draws, another huge factor in the match. Liam O'Connor took all the draws for Notre Dame and led both teams in ground balls with nine.
The Irish jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead on goals eight seconds apart by Jack Near and Conor Doyle. After a broken clear, Sean Rogers fed Near for a goal at 9:25. Liam O'Connor then won the face-off and fed Conor Doyle for a tally eight seconds later. Carolina got on the board at 7:32 as Jimmy Bitter fed Joey Snakey for a goal on the break. The Irish then regained a two-goal advantage when they were in a two-man EMO advantage as Will Corrigan scored off an assist by Matt Kavanagh with 1:49 left in the half. Carolina answered that goal 41 seconds later after forcing an Irish turnover. Greg McBride fed Marcus Holman on the break with 1:08 left in the half.
Both teams scored twice in the second period. Steve Pontrello found himself all alone on the right side with 13:02 left in the half, taking a pass from Spencer Parks and scoring from 10 yards to tie the game 3-3. The Tar Heels then took a short-lived lead with 9:59 left in the half as Jimmy Bitter found Marcus Holman 10 yards in front of goal for a 4-3 advantage. The Irish tallied the last two goals of the half as Jim Marlatt scored an unassisted goal at 6:47 shortly after the Irish defense killed off a penalty. Notre Dame then took the lead with 51.2 seconds left in the half as Matt Kavanagh scored an unassisted goal.
The Tar Heels came out in the second half on a four-goal run. Steve Pontrello scored his second goal of the game off an assist by Jimmy Bitter with 13:02 left. Pontrello scored on a power shot from 15 yards out on the left wing. A little over a minute later, Jimmy Bitter scored an unassisted goal from a tough angle on the left side to give UNC a 6-5 lead with 11:52 to play. UNC improved its lead to two goals on an unassisted goal by Joey Sankey as he rolled the crease from the right side to score past John Kemp with 5:35 to play. The Heels then made it 8-5 as Pat Foster scored from in tight on the right side off an assist by Sankey with 2:10 left in the third quarter. The Fighting Irish came back to get the final goal of the quarter as Sean Rogers freed himself on the crease with 35.8 seconds left and tallied off an assist by Conor Doyle.
The Tar Heels scored the first goal of the fourth quarter to go up 9-6 with 8:29 left on an unassisted goal by Spencer Parks. Just 46 seconds later, Notre Dame pulled with two goals as Matt Kavanagh intercepted a clearing pass by UNC goalkeeper Kieran Burke and then scored into an empty goal. After Jake Bailey was called for a push, Notre Dame scored within just six seconds as Sean Rogers scored off an assist by Matt Kavanagh with 57.4 seconds to play. The Irish won the following face-off and got the tying goal with 11.8 seconds left as Matt Kavanagh scored off an assist by Conor Doyle.
The Tar Heel men's lacrosse team will be back in action next Saturday when the Tar Heels host #12 Princeton (2-0) at Fetzer Field. General admission tickets will be on sale this week for $5 at the Ticket Center on GoHeels.com.