The Leadmon Goal - It’s sad to even write this. It’s awful even. Penn State and Duke played one of the most competitive, exciting, and entertaining games of the year. TJ Malone emptied the tank to the tune of six goals and two assists. The Penn State defense manufactured stops despite missing key pieces. Zone, man, multiple slide looks, anything to disrupt Duke. And they did. It worked enough to keep them in the game. They held Brennan O’Neill without a shot for the entire second half. They overcame a massive day from Jake Naso at the faceoff spot. But that’s the story that was taken away. Because instead, all anyone is talking about is Garrett Leadmon’s foot on a line. That’s it. In overtime, Duke won the opening faceoff, and Leadmon dodged from an invert look. He inside rolled along GLE, dove, and scored. The officials ran to the goal, talked for a moment, and signaled a good goal as Penn State defenders pleaded that Leadmon was in the crease. A look at the replay showed that he was. His foot clearly in the crease with the ball still in his stick. But there is no way to change the call. And so, the story for the game is written, and instead of the contest, the lede is “college lacrosse needs replay”. It’ll be the defining moment from that game. In post game, PSU Head Coach Jeff Tambroni was gracious and a great sport, while also suggesting that it should be time to add replay review to situations like this one. Duke Head Coach John Danowski was asked if he’d support video replay being added, and he said with a chuckle, “Not today.” Ultimately, this will become one of the louder offseason conversations around the game. No sooner had the discussion started than the NCAA shared the text of the replay rules with media members. This scenario just shouldn’t be happening. The big four sports have their share of blown calls and controversy, but the case of the Duke goal was one that has been solved for years. The PLL has solved it. A red challenge flag would have hit the field, and in a few minutes, we’d be back to deciding the game the way it was meant to be decided.
The Jake Taylor Twister - All day, all year, when Notre Dame needed a play, the ball makes its way to Pat Kavanagh. With skills only surpassed by his compete level, Kavanagh has become the physical manifestation of the Notre Dame identity this year. He wants to outwork you, outfight you, and it can be on your turf or his, any time, any place. He’s up for a battle. With just under a minute left, after a Thomas McConvey goal, Notre Dame needed a goal to keep the alive. It was a Kavanagh moment. But Jake Taylor grabbed the spotlight. A Brian Tevlin dodge started the UVA defense moving, and Tevlin moved the ball along to Taylor. Taylor spun to his left, towards the middle of the field, and fired a twister across his body from a good ten yards away that beat Matt Nunes high. It sent the Irish faithful into a frenzy. Tevlin would score the game winner in OT a few moments later, but Taylor’s goal was the true highlight of the afternoon. The confidence to attempt a twister from that range, with 32 seconds left on your entire season, on that stage, is remarkable.
Toron Eccleston Ride Back Bullying - Lenoir-Rhyne played like a force of nature. Their 20-5 victory over Mercyhurst was the second largest margin of defeat in DII championship history. From a pure physicality perspective, it was LRU flexing all day. Victor Powell in particular spent the day just shoving Mercyhurst attackman around, taking the ball in a fashion that can best be described as bullying. The play that summed it up most was actually after the game was all but decided. Up 19-5, LRU began taking the full 80 seconds to run the game out, they dumped the ball in the corner to end a possession. As Mercyhurst went to clear, a midfielder charged from the defense end towards the midfield line. Awaiting him was LRU Toron Eccleston, who cleanly knocked the midfielder to the ground, took the ball from him, and jogged it back to the offensive end. It was equal parts brutal and effortless. Dominant and fun. It was the sequence that encapsulated the entire day for LRU. After the play, LRU fans chanted “weight room”, a place that the Bears showed they spend plenty of time.
John DeFazio Has the Juice - Salisbury blitzed Tufts on Sunday. They threw the kitchen sink at them from the opening whistle on defense, and attack matchups on offense. Luke Nestor, Jack Dowd, and Brice Bromwell feasted from the wings against Tufts shorties. But it wasn’t an offensive player who made the biggest statement early. It wasn’t any of the first four goals, but the fifth. After Jude Brown, Blake Malamphy won the ensuing faceoff. He pushed it forwards, and moved it to LSM John DeFazio, who ripped a missile of a pole goal past Connor Garzone. The roar that went up from the stands felt as loud as anything the Penn State faithful brought on Saturday. The goal was an uppercut to the Jumbos’ jaw, one from which they struggled to really recover. Within that moment, it was clear which team had really come to play. At that moment, Tufts look like they didn’t what hit them, and Salisbury was lining up their next right hook.
The Chris Kavanagh Dive - Notre Dame blitzed Duke in the 1st. Garrett Leadmon scored about 30 second into the contest, and the Irish scored the next six goals. But the run was coming. It was always coming. Corrigan and the Irish players said as much in the post game. This is still Duke, with all their speed, skill, and firepower. And sure enough, the run came. Duke battled back to tie the game. A feed intended for Dyson Williams ricocheted of a Notre Dame defender and into the net, and suddenly things were just bouncing Duke’s way. But with 30 seconds left in the 3rd quarter, Brian Tevlin scored to give Notre Dame the lead again, and then Kavanagh delivered a backbreaker. As time wound down, he beat his man from X and dove across the crease, avoiding the goal mouth, and scoring with less than a second left on the clock and giving the Irish a two goal lead. The momentum was, with that singular act, all back with the Irish again. Kavanagh carried the load of 1.5 Kavanaghs on the day, as his brother Pat was clearly hobbled. But that’s what they do. They will their team through difficult moments in games. This was a “team on my back” play on the biggest stage yet.
Brian Tevlin at Attack - Tevlin was the symbol of the “anything I can do for this team” culture that permeated the Irish. In the title game, and throughout much of the postseason, you can see it in the faceoff tactics from Notre Dame. Midfielder Brian Tevlin? Lined up at attack. Poles? One on each wing. Who’s taking the faceoff? Might be Lynch, might be Hagstrom. The position being played in that moment isn’t dictated by what your natural position is, it’s dictated by what the team needs it to be. Tevlin played every position except goalie at some point this season (not an exaggeration). Notre Dame’s effort to neutralize Jake Naso facing off took an entire field worth of scheme and position assignments, and it worked.
Liam “Tillman Johnson” Entenmann - The Tillman Johnson game. If you watched it, you remember it. The 2003 National Championship was a level of goalie play in a class of its own. Johnson stood on his head for UVA, repeatedly robbing shooters of high percentage looks, completely stifling a Hopkins team that went through the tournament like a wrecking ball. As the game went on, the unexpected became ordinary. The remarkable became routine. Johnson was seeing the ball and making the biggest saves in the biggest moments. Entenmann approached that level for Notre Dame. He finished with 18 saves and a .667 save percentage. He had seven saves in the 4th quarter alone, stifling any attempt at a Duke comeback. By the time the 4th quarter began, it became impossible to consider anyone else for the Most Outstanding Player. 20 years since the Tillman Johnson game, we got the Liam Entenmann game.