Grow the Game®

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Share on whatsapp

Back-to-Back Glory: Notre Dame Secures Consecutive National Championships

Winners of 14 straight games for Kevin Corrigan (36th year), the Irish handled Albany 14-9 and Georgetown 16-11, before topping Denver last Saturday in the semis. They ran away and hid from Maryland on Monday in one of the most lopsided finals ever.

The delayed final game was over before halftime. ND scored on 10-of-18 first half possessions. They got whatever they wanted. They won every match up. Their ball carriers easily maneuvered to the middle of the field. Maryland made no saves – stuck in the mud with little lateral movement on a wet grass surface that requires mobility.

When Maryland had the ball, they could not run by their man and their picks were not effective. The Terp playoff run had started with a pregame storm and rainbow against Princeton on May 11. Rainbows are symbolic of a new beginning and hope. The storm led to growth on offense. Coach John Tillman and his scrappy team tied together three wins as underdogs. They found a new version of themselves. But when the second storm hit the Link on Monday as the fly-over and anthem concluded, Maryland returned to being their former selves. It was as if their magic spell had dissipated.

Maryland is now (2-6) in title games under coach Tillman. They are 13-time runners-up since tournament inception in the early 70s. Nobody fears the turtle on Monday.

The Notre Dame coronation completed a (16-1) season while scoring 15.6 goals per game and winning games by an average margin of 7.18.

It’s not prudent to compare championship teams to one another. It’s an argument that nobody can win and detracts from enjoying the here and now. I’m seeing some analysts lineup Maryland 2022 and Notre Dame 2024 side-by-side for further inspection. All I will say is if the game was played on semifinal Saturday, then I would favor Maryland. If the game was played on Memorial Day, with one day’s rest and prep, the Irish depth would prove to be a difference maker. Don’t forget that Maryland was against the ropes against Cornell in the 2022 final when the game ended, admittedly saved by the bell. Their SSDMs were gassed. And Terp coach John Tillman has shown himself to do his best work with a full week, not one day.

ND’s national championship banner should be hung on campus in South Bend at the Mendoza School of Business. Coach Kevin Corrigan built a post Covid roster stuffed with 25 seniors and grad students. Men not boys, who set stampeded their way through March, April and May on the backs of the juice supplied by the Kavanagh brothers. Irish went (36-3) since the last six games of 2022, a spring they were controversially denied a spot into the bracket.

In hindsight, the 2024 race was for second place. Pollsters will argue about the merits of Maryland, Denver, Virginia, Duke and Johns Hopkins. Even Georgetown can be tossed into the discussion. Duke never turned the corner and finished with six losses – shocking for such a talented ringless senior class. Hopkins peaked in early March. Denver didn’t have enough offense. Virginia fell apart with injuries and anemic midfield production. Syracuse was young and not athletic enough. Yale was ravaged by lower body injuries. Princeton and Cornell lacked defense. Notre Dame had it all and then some.

Allen Kee/ESPN Images
Allen Kee/ESPN Images 

As we stand on the cusp of the PLL season, the 2025 collegiate season appears to be one of the most wide-open title chases in memory. Outside of Syracuse, the four ACC teams have major questions to answer. Hopkins and Maryland don’t appear to be elite or Memorial Day contenders. They’ll be good but probably not great without more portal additions. I expect Maryland to hit the portal hard. That leaves us with the Ivy League, a youthful conference in 2024 with upward mobility as Covid implications subside. Cornell, Yale and Princeton should all be strong. The Irish will re-load with a new bagpiper, Ben Ramsey.  Meanwhile Denver graduated a large group of super seniors and seniors. Georgetown has to snap their quarterfinal hex. Maybe the storyline will be a Cinderella run from a mid-major like Towson or Albany. That would be cool. Maybe somebody new breaks though for a first champ weekend appearance. We will see.

For now, it’s onto the PLL summer – game one is Saturday at noon on ABC – a championship game rematch between the Utah Archers and Philadelphia Waterdogs.

Allen Kee/ESPN Images
Allen Kee/ESPN Images 

All the action, live from Albany this weekend, can be seen on ESPN+ with Chris Cotter, Ryan Boyle, Paul Carcaterra and myself. Pat Kavanaugh, Brennan O’Neal, Ajax Zappitello, Shane Knobloch and Connor Shellenberger making debut appearances as pros.