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Quotables - 2023 NCAA Championship Game

COACH KEVIN CORRIGAN


On finally winning one…


So we have a tradition at the end of our last games where we all stay in the locker room and our seniors talk, and they talk about the experience that they had playing for us and how much it meant to them, and they tell stories and they just share kind of great team moments where we talk together. I've always wanted to have one where we just were -- all the stories were good; they didn't end in a loss and tears. The tears are all going to be from joy. Yeah, really, really so incredibly proud of those guys and so happy for all of our guys.


And not just these guys from this team, who obviously we are ones, but everybody that's played for the for the last 35 years that I know feels a part of this because we've all been hearing from them for the last month. They felt like this was a special team that could do this, and I think that helped fuel us, as well. So pretty cool.


On Duke tying the game in the third…


I told the guys, look, they're going to come back. We're not going to hold them to one. They're going to make some plays and we're going to have to weather that emotionally and everything else. I didn't think they were going to score six that way and get back in the game that way, that quickly. But lacrosse is a momentum game. It always has been. You see swings like that. I didn't want our guys to be freaked out by that. That's a proud program that I knew had a lot of lacrosse left in them, so it wasn't a shock.


At the same time, we felt like we kind of contributed a little bit by not making some simple plays and almost trying to make better plays than we needed to make, so we said, hey, let's just go back to making this simple play. You don't have to make the next-level play. If everybody makes a good, simple play, that is next level, and that's what we tried to concentrate on.


On being a kid during the 1970 North South Game discussions to start the NCAA tournament…


I was a manager. My brother, David, and I were the managers for the North and the South, right, and Peter Kohn was our boss. Listen, I obviously -- when I was born, my dad was the lacrosse coach at UVA and there were days I got dropped off on the school bus at his practice, right? So I've been around this for a long time and have loved it all these years.


Yeah, it's pretty cool. It's pretty special. I wish my dad was here to share it with us. But he lived and died with our games. My brothers -- I'm one of seven kids, and my brothers and sisters always say, on game days you're the favorite; there's no doubt about that. Just because that's the way it is. But no, it's great to have seen the whole thing kind of flourish, to see where lacrosse was in the '60s when I was backing up the cage at UVA, right? And I think me and my friends and brothers were the only kids in town with lacrosse sticks. There was no lacrosse in any of the schools there at that time. Yeah, so it's kinds of fun to see the whole thing, what's happened to our game and continuing to happen.


On what transfers brought to Notre Dame…


First of all, they're great people, and secondly, I don't think it happens without our locker room being in the right place and being the accepting place that it was. For those guys to come in and there's no discontent, there's no bitterness, our guys -- and if you ask them they'll tell you the exact thing. They were accepted from day one but our guys, and I think that says an awful lot about the kids on our team. Hey, if you can help us and you're going to come in and buy into what we do and what we care about and all that, then welcome, and glad to have you.


I think that's a phenomenal thing when there could be a lot of other reactions, and then the fact that they're such great kids, that they both came in very humbly, didn't come in waving their All-American banners or any of that. They came in saying, how can I help? What can I do to make this team better? So it was a wonderful kind of meshing of the cultures of what they brought from Yale and from their previous experiences and what we had going on.


On finally beating Duke in a title game after three tries…


I don't know. Honestly, not something I've thought much about. But glad -- I wasn't disappointed that Duke was the last one standing with us. We were -- that was a matchup we felt familiar with, and in a lot of ways, you're preparing in less than 48 hours -- we had 43 hours from the time we finished here until the start of this game today, so we were like, hey, good, somebody we don't have to -- we watched a few games just to make sure what changes had they made, but they hadn't done a lot.


We hadn't either, for that matter. We kind of were who we were, and we've played each other six times now in the last three years. So it's kind of nice to have that familiarity. As for the poetry of the whole thing, I'll leave that to you.


On if 2023 really was a revenge tour…


Did last year motivate us and really kind of galvanize this team? Absolutely. Revenge is not the right word, though. It was not about revenge. From the moment we didn't get into the tournament last year we said, hey, two things. One, we think this is unfair, but life is not fair. And two, the only reason this happened is we left ourselves vulnerable to this happening, and that's on us. We're not going to bitch and moan. We're not going to call people names. We're not going to blame other people and everything else. We're going to say from this moment forward, let's do what we can do to make sure this doesn't happen to us again next year. I don't think that's revenge. I think that's kind of accountability and owning up to what you had control of,

and that's what our guys did.


That's why I'm so proud of them. I don't think you've ever heard one of our guys complain in any public way about last year, and I think that's awesome, for young men, as disappointed as they were, to not whine and complain about it. I think that's awesome. And then for them also to say, here's what we do about it. We don't just cry about it, we get on with it and take care of -- I think that says an awful lot about the character of the kids in our program.


PAT KAVANAGH


On sharing the title with his family…


Yeah, it started with Matt getting recruited by Coach Corrigan in like 2010 or 2011, making the trip to Long Island and Chaminade and our house a few times to watch him play. It's been over a decade in the making. Me and Chris were this big when Matt was a freshman at Notre Dame. Making the trip out to South Bend every single weekend to watch him play, just so many memories. The best memories of my childhood were watching Matt play at Notre Dame. Winning it and then seeing my family is just so surreal. I don't think it's hit yet. I owe everything to them and for Coach Corrigan, as well, for taking a chance on me.


On bringing the first title to Notre Dame…


It’s surreal. I don't think it's hit yet. Been dreaming about a moment like this my whole life. For me personally to get it done with my little brother who's been my best friend since I was born, every step of the way we've been through everything together, so it's special to do that with him. And then all 57 guys who made a commitment to being their best and being held accountable by the leaders on this team all year, everyone bought in top to bottom, and it was just such a special group. The most tight knit locker room I've ever been a part of. Our culture is pretty special, but this year was just different from when we stepped on campus in August. Yeah, to get it done with this group is just really special.


LIAM ENTENMANN


On getting the first banner…


It's an incredible feeling. I've been a Notre Dame fan my entire life. I'm not just saying that because I'm on Notre Dame now. I've truly been a Notre Dame fan my entire life. I remember seeing Coach before I committed here at some club tournaments and stuff and I was star struck because that's the guy I always wanted to play for. And with being a Notre Dame fan came a lot of heartbreak in 2010, 2014, 2015. To be able to do it, to be the team to do it is incredible. It's an honor.


Just looking up into the stands today and seeing Matt Kavanagh, seeing so many guys that helped build this program up to what it is and just shy of winning it all, and just to see them with tears in their eyes and huge smiles on their faces was -- it's truly one of the best moments of my

life to be honest with you.


COACH JOHN DANOWSKI


On the halftime talk to spark a third quarter run…


It was somewhat direct, somewhat challenging their character a little bit. It was typical coach stuff. Sometimes it requires a gentle hand, and sometimes it requires a little bit of tough love. I would say it was more on the tough love side.


On dealing with the Notre Dame faceoff tactics…


We knew all that was coming because that's how they play, so we knew that, and we knew that their guy was going to counter a lot, and he did a great job. They won 14 out of 24. Seemed worse than that to me in the game. He won some really big face-offs and some timely ones, as well. You know, he's a Chaminade kid and a Long Island guy. He's tough as nails. That's what happens. The face-off thing, sometimes it's about match-ups. Did a really good job of countering, of really driving Jake off the ball, and I thought a couple of times -- we don't see that that often, that kind of technique, but it was effective today for them for sure.


On what was said in the locker room after the game…


We love them. We love these guys. If this is the worst thing that's going to happen in your life, you're living a really good life. You got to play in front of 60,000 people over three days. You got to be with your friends for another four days in Philadelphia. I mean, what a great experience. Didn't win the game. The other team was better today. That happens. But let's not hang our heads. Let's be really proud of who you are and what you've accomplished and what you're going to accomplish going forward.


On saying goodbye to his graduating players…


I'm so proud of those guys. Last year after we lost to Notre Dame we had a film session the next day, and we really were very direct and very honest with the fifth years because that was their senior year. If they're going to come back, things were going to have to change a little bit. Right from day one, they've been awesome. They've been absolutely spectacular. Weight room, classroom, practice, leadership, on, off the field. They're just amazing. I think we had seven graduate degrees, or eight, and the guys were just a joy to be around.


On the journey from missing the tournament last year through this season…


You know, getting a chance to be at Duke for me was a dream come true, and for these kids it is, as well. It's tremendous demands on them academically, socially, professionally, internships and what goes on afterwards. So to be with them for those -- in the couple of hours in the afternoon is incredible. They're fun. They're witty. They're rambunctious. It keeps you young. It's not like going to work, that's for sure.


DYSON WILLIAMS


On getting back to the title game…


I think obviously getting a taste of the final four our sophomore year was important to make that step, and then I think it's just every season brings a new journey, and we try not to -- at Duke we try not to dwell too much on the past. You just kind of start with a fresh mindset, and I thought this year we did a great job of that. We didn't think too much about -- didn't think at all about last year not making it, but kind of made this season its own. Obviously didn't end up being a championship season for us, but I did think it was a great step moving forward, and our team showed a lot of character, and like I said, I'm very proud.


On trying to solve Liam Entenmann…


A player like him can really change the outcome of a game. Once again, just reminded it's a six-by-six net, and shooters gotta shoot, and you can't change the way you're playing just because things aren't going your way. I thought we came out with more confidence, and that made it a better game.


KENNY BROWER


On returning to the title game…


Every year is a new journey, new guys, new team, but the standard doesn't change. This is always going to be our goal to get back here and eventually one day, win.


On battling back in the 3rd quarter…


I'm incredibly proud of our guys just fighting back to cut that lead down. I mean, it was 6-1. That's a pretty tough lead against a tough team like Notre Dame to get back there, and they just made a play when they needed to. I mean, no question we continued to fight, but at the end of the day they just made a couple more plays than us.


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