Jim Marlett looks to pass the ball to a teammate.
Notre Dame Athletics

NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Freshman attackman Matt Kavanagh scored just 15 seconds into the third overtime period to give No. 2 Notre Dame a 10-9 victory against No. 9 North Carolina on Saturday at Arlotta Stadium. The game was the home opener for the Fighting Irish.

Notre Dame (3-0) scored the final four goals of the contest, including two in the final minute of regulation. Kavanagh netted three goals during that stretch and assisted on the other. He finished the game with four goals and two assists. This was the consecutive game that Kavanagh delivered the overtime game winner. He also scored the deciding goal in Sunday’s 10-9 victory at Penn State.

“We put ourselves in a tough spot again by being down by two in the fourth quarter, but you have to give our guys a ton of credit for how they keep coming back in those situations,” Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan said. “We made one more play than they did and I feel a little bit like I did last week. I know we can play better, but we’re making plays right now.”

The Fighting Irish grabbed an early 2-0 lead as sophomores Jack Near and Conor Doyle scored just eight seconds apart. Sean Rogers assisted on Near’s goal, while Liam O’Connor fed Doyle for his score. A score from North Carolina’s Joey Sankey sliced the Irish lead to one midway through the first quarter.

Notre Dame midfielder Will Corrigan scored off a Kavanagh pass on a two-man advantage to make it 3-1. North Carolina’s Marcus Holman responded less than a minute later to make it 3-2 by the end of the first period.

North Carolina (2-2) claimed its first lead of the game (4-3) after Steve Pontrello and Holman netted consecutive goals during the early stages of the second quarter. Irish midfielder Jim Marlatt knotted the game at four with 6:47 remaining in the first half. Kavanagh’s first goal of the game occurred with 51 seconds left in the half to give the Fighting Irish a 5-4 lead at the intermission.

The Tar Heels scored the first four goals of the second half to grab a three-goal advantage (8-5) by the 2:10 mark of the third period. Pontrello, Jimmy Bitter, Sankey and Pat Foster produced the goals during that surge. Irish attackman Sean Rogers halted the run as he took a pass from Doyle and scored on a diving shot with 36 seconds left in the quarter.

North Carolina regained a three-goal advantage (9-6) with 8:29 left in the fourth quarter on a goal from Spencer Parks.

When all the momentum appeared to be on the side of the Tar Heels, Kavanagh picked off a pass from North Carolina goalie Kieran Burke at midfield and ran down and scored to make it 9-7 midway through the fourth quarter. Rogers cut the Tar Heel lead to one (9-8) on a man-up goal with 57 seconds left in regulation. Kavanagh assisted on the Rogers goal and then tied the game at nine with 11 seconds left when he scored off a feed from Doyle.

The Tar Heels won the faceoff to begin the third overtime, but Marlatt immediately forced a turnover, picked up a ground ball and dished to Kavanagh for the game winner.

“You leave the field with a big smile on your face after a game like [on Saturday], but hopefully we can get back to understand who we are and be a little bit more effective so we don’t have to go to overtime every week,” Corrigan said. “It says a lot about our guys the way they’ve battled back in the last two fourth quarters and overtime.”

Senior goalie John Kemp made 11 saves for the Fighting Irish, while Burke had 15 stops for the Tar Heels. Kemp has made 10 or more saves in all three games this season.

The Irish held a 40-31 shot advantage. O’Connor was 17-for-25 in faceoff attempts, including 6-for-8 in the fourth quarter and overtime. Note Dame was 2-for-3 in man-up opportunities, while North Carolina was 0-for-2.

All three Notre Dame wins this season have been against a team ranked in the top 10 at the time of the contest. It’s the first time the Irish have defeated three consecutive top-10 teams since the 2010 NCAA tournament (Princeton, Maryland, Cornell). Notre Dame is 3-0 for the fifth time in the last six seasons.