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'A soldier who took about 20 bullet shots ... and still got up and killed 2 of his enemies': College lacrosse champion praises late Iraq war veteran during moving, post-game victory speech on Memorial Day

Composite screenshot of @greg_price11 Twitter video and CBN News YouTube video

The Fighting Irish of Notre Dame may have won the day in the 2023 NCAA men's lacrosse championship on Monday, thanks to a heroic rally late in the game, but according to one player, the members of the American armed forces are the real heroes.

After they and their teammates clinched a 13-9 victory against perennial contenders the Duke Blue Devils, brothers Chris and Pat Kavanagh of Notre Dame stopped to speak with an ESPN reporter. During the interview, Pat Kavanagh was asked about a lingering hamstring injury. "Honestly, I've been waiting too long for this game — 60 minutes for the rest of my life," the elder Kavanagh began before expressing gratitude to his family, coaches, and the team's medical staff for their help and support.

Then Kavanagh claimed that goalie Liam Entenmann, the MVP of the NCAA lacrosse tournament, had recently texted him an inspirational story about Douglas "Mike" Day, a former Navy SEAL and Silver Star recipient, and that story helped Kavanagh prepare mentally to overcome adversity. Day "was a soldier who took about 20 bullet shots and a grenade and still got up and killed two of his enemies," Kavanagh explained. According to Kavanagh, Entenmann told him, "If this guy can do this, you can play through a little hamstring injury."

"That was all the motivation I needed," Kavanagh confirmed, still out of breath from the game and the excitement.

Kavanagh was not through praising American servicemen and women though. "I couldn't be prouder to get this done on Memorial Day," he continued. "Thank you to our troops."

Kavanagh made a few slight errors in his moving tribute to Day, who sadly passed away in March at age 60. He inadvertently referred to Day as "a soldier" rather than a Navy SEAL, and he actually understated Day's injuries. Day sustained 27 total gunshots, 11 of which struck his body armor, as well as shrapnel from a grenade explosion during a particularly dangerous mission in Fallujah in April 2007.

Kavanagh also underestimated Day's effectiveness on the battlefield 16 years ago. According to military records, Day killed "three enemy personnel" that day, not two, and he did so "without injury to the women and children" nearby.

For his "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action," Day received a Silver Star, the third-highest decoration for valor available to members of the Navy and Marine Corps, as well as two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. He retired in 2010 and published a memoir 10 years later, detailing his struggles with PTSD and a traumatic brain injury as well as his advocacy work on behalf of wounded veterans.

'Perfectly Wounded': Retired Navy SEAL Shot 27 Times Hopes Readers of New Book Build Resiliencywww.youtube.com

Had he been alive to see the game on Monday between the Irish and the Blue Devils, Day would have witnessed several major shifts in momentum. Duke got off to a fast 1-0 start, but Notre Dame responded with a vengeance and went into halftime with a commanding 6-1 lead. That lead quickly evaporated in the third quarter, when Duke tied things up 7-7. However, Notre Dame scored two more goals before the quarter expired and never looked back, finally bringing home a lacrosse championship after 26 tournament tries and three championship appearances, all of them against Duke.

"I don't know how I'm supposed to feel right now," said head coach Kevin Corrigan, who has led the program for 35 years. "I don't feel this crazy euphoria as much as just this contentment of being able to watch those guys celebrate on that field in this last game."

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