Sixth-seeded Irish defeat No. 7 Maryland 11-6

BALTIMORE (AP) — Notre Dame goalie Conor Kelly outplayed his All-America counterpart for Maryland and helped send the Fighting Irish into the NCAA lacrosse championship game for the second time.

Kelly made 14 saves to anchor a suffocating defensive effort as sixth-seeded Notre Dame defeated No. 7 Maryland 11-6 on Saturday.

“I’m really happy with the way our guys played today. It sure helps when Conor’s back there making some of the saves he made today,” Notre Dame coach Kevin Corrigan said.

Matt Kavanagh scored five goals and dished off two assists to lead the offense, which shredded a Maryland defense that had been ranked No. 1 nationally with just seven goals allowed.

“I thought we played great team offense. We executed our sets perfectly,” Kavanagh said. “I was just on the back end of some great team offense.”

Conor Doyle had a goal and three assists for Notre Dame (12-5), which will play top-seeded Duke in Monday’s final. John Scioscia and Nick Ossello netted two goals apiece for the Fighting Irish, who outscored the Terps 4-1 in the third quarter to build a 10-5 lead.

“Notre Dame executed very well in just about every facet and certainly outplayed us in every facet,” Maryland coach John Tillman said.

Joe LoCascio also scored two goals for Maryland (12-4), which committed a season-high 19 turnovers. All-American Nick Amato made 10 saves for the Terps, who have now lost in the semifinals and finals 17 times since winning their last national title in 1975.

In his 26th season at the helm, Corrigan has built Notre Dame into a perennial playoff program that has made three final four appearances. He did not want to reflect on what it would mean for the Fighting Irish to capture their first national title.

“Now is not the time for me to have perspective,” Corrigan said. “This is the 2014 team’s only chance to win a national championship, and I’m not focused on anything else. I’m not going to take my eye off the ball here on Saturday afternoon. Our deal is to try to finish this on Monday.”

Defenseman Stephen O’Hara put the clamps on Maryland leading scorer and All-American Mike Chanenchuk, who was held to two goals and an assist after totaling nine points in last Saturday’s quarterfinals. The Terrapins equaled a season-low with six goals on 38 shots.

“I think we were a little stubborn with our shooting. We talked all week about (not) shooting high. We felt (Kelly) was better high than low,” Tillman said. “I don’t think we could have emphasized it more, and then we come out early and go back to old habits.”

It will be an all-Atlantic Coast Conference championship game and a rematch of the 2010 final, which Duke won 6-5 in overtime.

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