Liam Entenmann (Point Lookout/Chaminade) made 12 saves for Notre Dame...

Liam Entenmann (Point Lookout/Chaminade) made 12 saves for Notre Dame in its NCAA Division I men's lacrosse semifinal win over Denver. Credit: Ben Amtsberg

PHILADELPHIA – In the tunnels below Lincoln Financial Field the walls are covered with poster-sized photographs from some of the memorable events that have taken place in the building. There are plenty of Eagles moments from the NFL, naturally, but also everything from a Harry Styles concert to a monster truck rally.

Kevin Corrigan was walking through that rarely-seen display this weekend when he turned a corner and one of the images caught his eye.

“Hey, would you look at that!” the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse coach said, allowing himself a quick grin.

It was his team, last year’s squad, holding up the national championship trophy it had won almost exactly one year ago. A lot of the faces he saw in that portrait, smeared with grass and sweat and eye grease but also broad smiles, are the same ones who will be trying to win back-to-back titles for the school on Monday. Players such as Will Lynch, Chris Kavanagh and Liam Entenmann.

But Corrigan, who had worked his whole life to get to that point, never even broke his stride to examine the snapshot and very quickly zipped past that frozen Kodak moment. Even when someone noted the stadium’s curators might soon have to make room for another Notre Dame photo he barely acknowledged the remark.

“Well,” he said pointing to the shot of Beyonce next to Notre Dame’s, “they’re not going to move her.”

His reaction is exactly what he hopes his current team does, too, when it is confronted by the laurels of its recent past, it’s dominant season that made it the top seed in this tournament with a 15-1 record, and the prospect of its place in the sport’s history as it readies for Monday’s title game against No. 7 Maryland.

Just don’t stop. Keep moving.

“All that other stuff is for another time and for other people,” Corrigan said on Sunday. “Our guys, our staff, we’re just focused on what do we need to do today so we are ready for tomorrow… We’re not talking about that, we’re not thinking about that. We simply won’t. This team has this one opportunity now to win a national championship. Everything else is secondary.”

Acknowledged by them or not, one way or another, Monday will be more than just a championship game. It will mark the end of an era for Notre Dame. So many of the players who have been with the program for five (or in some cases six years) through injuries and a pandemic, who have been in the Notre Dame family since they were preteens the way Pat Kavanagh was when he watched his older brother Matt play over a decade ago, will be donning their shiny gold helmets for the final time.

Matt and Pat Kavanagh will play together this summer in the PLL, on the same team for the first time in their lives. For Chris and Pat Kavanagh, this may be their final game as teammates.

“Obviously you remind the guys that this is their last chance together,” Corrigan said, “but you don’t want to get too sentimental about the whole thing because it’s about staying focused on what we have to do as a team.”

Maryland, meanwhile, is just trying not to be the afterthought in Notre Dame’s expected coronation.

“It’s pretty clear we’re the underdog,” coach John Tillman said on Sunday. “We know the spot we’re in. We get it.”

As for the spot the eventual champs wind up in the narrative of the sport – or where the eventual picture of them will hang in the halls of this stadium – that remains to be seen. Soon.

Said Corrigan of all those things that don’t directly impact this game: “We’ll worry about all that on (Monday) night.”

Maybe even with the same smiles they had in last year’s photograph.


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