SOUTH BEND, Ind. (ABC4 Sports) – Utah’s first trip to the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament was a brief one, as the #17 Utes lost to #3 Notre Dame Saturday afternoon, 20-7.
The loss snapped Utah’s school-record 11-game winning streak.
Utah finished the season 12-5 overall along with its 9-0 ASUN record.
Utah finished the game with 37 shots, including 23 on goal, also recording 27 ground balls and nine caused turnovers against the Fighting Irish.
The ASUN regular season and tournament champs put together a historical year that saw school records fall each week, including a program-high 12 wins and its first-ever berth into the NCAA Championships.
In just five seasons as a Division I program, the Utes have continued to raise the standard each and every year, including winning 22 games in the last two seasons along with 14-straight regular season ASUN games to win back-to-back regular season titles. With the 2023 roster including mainly underclassmen and juniors, Utah’s future continues to look bright.
Jared Andreala led the team in goals, scoring a hat trick along with two ground balls. Ryan Stines, Carson Moyer, Trey Akabane and Tyler Bradbury each scored a goal for the Utes.
Samuel Cambere had a team-high five ground balls along with two caused turnovers, while Josh Rose also adding four ground balls. Colby Plotts led the team in caused turnovers with three, also grabbing one ground ball with Joey Boylston also contributing two caused turnovers and two ground balls.
Jake Taylor led the Fighting Irish with who a season-high five goals, including a first quarter hat trick. Taylor’s five goals tie the program record for goals in an NCAA Tournament game. Pat Kavanagh turned in another monster performance, totaling six points off three goals and three assists. Reilly Gray also added a hat trick with three goals in the win.
Utah was held scoreless in the first quarter, the first time the Utes were held without a goal in a quarter since the Utes’ game against Jacksonville on March 31. With Utah unable to find the back of the net, Notre Dame was able to take an 8-0 lead into the second quarter.
The Utes, known for their gritty style of play, came into the second quarter with a resurgence of energy, scoring three-straight on just five shots in the first three minutes of the quarter.
Moyer got things started for the Utes with a diving goal across the crease, followed by Bradbury scoring on an open goal after Boylston laid out a big hit on the Notre Dame goalie near midfield, allowing Rose to find Bradbury open for their second goal of the game. Andreala would score Utah’s third-straight of the quarter with 11:47 to go, cutting the Notre Dame lead to 8-3.
The Utes would hold Notre Dame scoreless until the 3:59 mark in the quarter with Colin Leskold showing up for Utah in goal, finishing that span with four saves. Despite the defensive effort from the Utes to start the quarter, Notre Dame would find a way back on the board, scoring four unanswered goals with Utah facing a 12-3 deficit at halftime.
Notre Dame started the quarter on a 4-0 run to take a 16-3 lead, but Andreala would score his second of the game to make it 16-4 with 5:33 remaining in the period.
The Utes would get one more chance at the end of the quarter, forcing Notre Dame to a shot clock violation with four seconds remaining, allowing Ruben Santana to find Stines open with just one second on the clock, cutting Notre Dame’s lead to 16-5 heading into the final quarter.
The Utes would open the scoring in the fourth quarter with Akabane putting away his first goal of the season on a scoop and score off the faceoff.
With 9:29 to go in the game, Utah would make a goalie switch with Zack Johns entering the game. Johns started with the team when it was a club program in 2018, seeing the Utes become a Division I program all the way to its success this season.
Andreala would go on to complete his hat trick at the 2:57 mark, but it would be Utah’s final goal of the game, falling 20-7.