Duke works hard to hold former Chaminade star Matt Kavanagh in check
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BALTIMORE - Duke's defensive plan to stop Matt Kavanagh on Monday was called "midnight."
"Have a body on the near pipe so he wouldn't see daylight," Blue Devils coach John Danowski explained.
Duke also assigned 6-4 defenseman Henry Lobb to guard the 5-8 Kavanagh, and when the clock struck 12 on the former Chaminade star's sophomore season, the results were grim.
Kavanagh was limited to one goal in the first half as Duke built a 5-1 lead and established control in a game it would win, 11-9, for its second straight national championship.
"I was kind of getting shut off a little bit throughout the game. Wasn't really getting any touches, getting into the flow of our offense," said Kavanagh, who had two goals and an assist. "It's a credit to them and their defensive scheme. But we battled back. I wasn't going to be the one to change the game. It took everyone on our team to do it."
The Fighting Irish cut a six-goal deficit to one twice in the second half.
"We were just one play away," said Kavanagh, who established a milestone in defeat. His assist early in the fourth quarter gave him 75 points (42 goals, 33 assists), which set a Notre Dame single-season points record.
"Matt is a great player, so going into the game, he was a big part of our game plan," said Lobb, who kept Kavanagh scoreless in a 15-7 Duke victory April 5. "That was the game plan: Make it hard for him to get the ball, crowd him and pressure him."
Kavanagh scored Notre Dame's first goal on a solo dodge after a timeout midway through the second quarter. His second goal was a spectacular play early in the fourth quarter on which he fought for a ground ball, dodged a defender and scored with a diving shot across the crease.
He had five goals and two assists in Saturday's semifinal victory over Maryland and was voted to the Final Four all-tournament team.
"We tried to limit Kavanagh's touches," Danowski said. "We tried to force him underneath. If he didn't see anything, he wouldn't dodge. That was the plan on him. He scored right after the timeout. It was a really slick play . . . Henry had experience playing him. He's covered lefties and he's covered them well. He's a senior and he's your guy."
For Kavanagh, it was a lights-out season that ended with a dark day.