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 — The players on the Notre Dame men's lacrosse team have been together for so long now, have gone through so much together — including a 2022 season in which they were snubbed from a postseason invite and a national crown in 2023 — that the bond they have permeates just about everything they do. There seems to be an intuitive knowledge of who will be where and what they are going to do, yielding the kind of anticipation few teams can match and hardly anyone can defend.

“We have a tight group in the locker room,” junior attackman Chris Kavanagh said. “We’re best friends on the field.”

Some of them, of course, are even closer than that.

Chris and his older brother Pat are the leading scorers for top-seeded Notre Dame, and they have been carving up this NCAA Tournament. Their domination continued on Saturday when they each scored three goals — Devon McLane had three as well — in a workmanlike 13-6 semifinal victory over No. 5 Denver (13-4) at Lincoln Financial Field.

But those weren’t just hat tricks for each of the brothers from Rockville Centre. They also managed to assist each other on three of those scores.

This was a Kav Trick!

As Notre Dame attempts to win back-to-back titles on Monday in the championship game against No. 7 Maryland, the siblings will have one last opportunity to play together in college. Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan said after Saturday’s game that he is glad to have had a front-row seat for their combined careers, and marveled not just at their play-making but their similar mindsets toward success.

“It’s more the makeup that they bring to everything that they do,” Corrigan said. “They both are committed to excellence. They want to be great players and they put in the work to be great players. They don’t just hope it comes to them. Then there is the competitiveness they do in everything they do.

“But then there is the selflessness that they bring to it. It embraces everybody else on the team. They never put themselves apart in any way in terms of putting themselves above anyone. They are as happy for anyone on the team as they are for themselves or their brother.”

Maybe that’s why even as Chris Kavanagh is having one of the all-time great tournament runs this spring — with 17 points in the first three games — it’s not impossible to see him to match the NCAA record of 25 points in a single tournament with a strong game on Monday. After totaling eight points in a quarterfinal last week at Hofstra, he smothered any suggestions of his individual success.

“Come May, it doesn’t really matter who scores,” he said. “You are just trying to get a W.”

It may not have been much to talk about as far as they were concerned, but that Kavanagh Konnection sure was fun to watch. It first popped up on Saturday at the end of the first quarter when Pat fed the ball to Chris who dove across the front of the crease and delivered a backhand shovel shot into the net Bobby Orr-style to give Notre Dame a 2-1 lead it would never relinquish.

It was there in the third quarter when Max Busenkell intercepted a Denver clearing pass near midfield and pushed the ball up to Pat Kavanagh who had a one-on-one with goalie Malcolm Kleban but instead made the extra pass to Chris who was coming down the seam. Chris gave Notre Dame a 9-5 edge.

And finally it was there when they reversed roles and Chris was able to assist Pat for the last goal of the game. Passing from the faceoff X, Chris hit Pat who had his back to the cage but snapped off a no-look, over-the-shoulder goal with 2:56 remaining in the semifinal.

The Kavanaghs, who have now tallied both the goal and assist on the same Notre Dame scoring play an incredible 43 times in their three seasons together, weren’t the only Long Islanders who contributed to this victory. Will Lynch (Rockville Centre/Chaminade) won 18 of the game’s 23 faceoffs while goalie Liam Entenmann (Point Lookout/Chaminade) made 12 saves.

“We did a great job all week preparing whether it be our scout guys and our collective film with the wing guys,” Lynch said of the statistical dominance. “We were really prepared for that matchup.”

Notre Dame also had a 44-24 advantage in ground balls.

“Something our team really prides itself on is coming up with the gritty, scrappy ground balls,” Lynch added. “At the end of the day games are won and lost based on the ground balls.”

Having two of the best scorers in the game who also happen to share the same last name helps too.

Having them sport the disposition they do, well, that makes Notre Dame (15-1) nearly unstoppable.

“The dynamic on our team right now is just wonderful,” Corrigan said. “We’re very, very fortunate because it starts with those guys.”

Now it is one game away from ending with them too.

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