Showtime

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Since the Notre Dame preseason trip to Sarasota one month ago, Bellarmine, Air Force and Detroit lacrosse  teams have visited The Loftus Sports Center with similar story lines. An Irish win, kick started by sound defense and an offensive run in the first half.  With preseason concluded,  rankings released, All-American and All-Conference honors bestowed, leadership development completed, captains selected and a new bagpiper warming,  the curtain on the 2017 season goes up Saturday!

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The Dallas Cowboys’ new home.

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The Patriot Cup returns to North Texas for its ninth annual tournament, hosted for the fist time at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas. It’s spectacular! There’s a link below to preview this $1b, 91-acre home to the Dallas Cowboys.  Fourth-ranked Notre Dame will battle Georgetown, one of five games scheduled for the day.  The other college game will feature Stanford versus Duke in a women’s contest showcasing  two of the nations’s best. The Irish face off at 2:00 ET, with the game broadcast live on ESPNU.

Notre Dame  defeated Georgetown 12-7 in the season opener a year ago in Kennesaw, Georgia.  The Irish entered that game as the nation’s top ranked team, while Georgetown was ranked #13. Notre Dame raced to a 4-0 start, with Sergio Perkovic scoring twice.

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PJ Finley won 16/21 at the X last year versus the Hoyas in Atlanta.

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Sergio Perkovic was mugged and still scored four goals in last year’s opener.

Despite the 4-0 lead, Shane Doss had to make six saves in the first quarter.  The Hoyas got as close as 7-4 in the third, before Ryder Garnsey and Hugh Crance would  score their first collegiate goals.  Matt Kavanagh would collect four assists, while PJ Finley won 16/21 face-offs and Shane Doss finished with 14 saves.  Perkovic would lead all scorers with four goals, with Mikey Wynne tallying three.  John Sexton collected four ground balls and caused three turnovers.

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Eddy Glazener and the Irish D held the Hoyas to seven goals in the 2016 opener.

Notre Dame enters Saturday’s game with all-star talent despite the graduation of Matt Kavanagh and Matt Landis, two of the program’s most decorated players. The Irish feature three preseason first team All Americans. Midfielder Sergio Perkovic, defenseman Garrett Epple and goalie Shane Doss were recognized by Inside Lacrosse and by the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). Perkovic is receiving  early Tewaaraton Trophy consideration as the nation’s top player. Ryder Garnsey and John Sexton received third team All-American honors. Attackman Mikey Wynne received All-American Honorable Mention as well as All ACC honors. Notre Dame finished second with 21 points from the five  ACC coaches to North Carolina’s 23 points. Syracuse  (16), Duke (9) and Virginia (6) round out the preseason team voting .   In case you missed it, #7 Duke lost it’s season opener at home to #19 Air Force, 10-9.  It’s the second consecutive year the Blue Devils lost to the Falcons. The #5th ranked Loyola Greyhounds also lost, falling to the Virginia Cavaliers 16-15 in Baltimore.      bell-irish-helmet

Head Coach Kevin Corrigan begins his 29th season with the Irish, second among active coaches in tenure only to Delaware’s Bob Shillinglaw, who announced last month this will be his final season. Corrigan has won 69% of his games, while finishing as national runner-up twice and earning a spot in the quarterfinal seven consecutive times.  He’s joined by the best defensive coach in the nation, Gerry Byrne.  Entering his 11th season in his second stint with the Irish, Byrne  has won 76% of his games, with ND qualifying for the NCAA Tournament all 10 seasons. Matt Karweck, a 2006 graduate, begins his fourth year as the offensive assistant. He has coached the Irish to two ACC Championships en route to a 35-14 record. The Irish will be led by senior captains Sergio Perkovic, Nick Koshansky, Anthony Marini and Shane Doss.  Leading the team onto the field before each game will be bagpiper Will Young.  The junior defenseman carries forward the tradition begun by alum Sean Meehan in 1996 and mastered by defenseman Eddy Glazener the past two years.

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ND’s original piper, Sean Meehan.

Saturday’s trip to The Star is the first of five road trips that will include March visits to Denver and Charlottesville.  Denver defeated Air Force to open their season and now hold the nation’s top ranking in both polls. Our last trip to Peter Barton Stadium ended the same way last year’s game ended in Arlotta, a Denver win in overtime. The game is already sold out.  The trip to Charlottesville, a foodie favorite, will be played at beautiful Klockner Stadium under the lights against a Virginia team who upset #5 Loyola to open the season. We’re looking forward to seeing the Pfeifers and Milikens.  We’ll visit Durham in April to enjoy barbecue and play #7 Duke.  We’ll end the regular season at spectacular West Point, home to the US Military Academy.  Our tailgate adjacent to Michie Stadium two seasons ago was legendary courtesy of the Doyle family and friends.  Preparation for the sequel is already in progress, thanks Bob Rogers.

Arlotta Stadium in South Bend has hosted many of the program’s most epic games.  This year’s schedule promises more of the same, with Notre Dame set to host Michigan, #2 Maryland, #17 Ohio State, #5 Syracuse, #18 Marquette and #3 North Carolina.  The Carolina game is already sold out.  We shut out Ohio State during their last visit and beat Marquette in overtime. But few will forget the epic battles against Syracuse and Carolina, where overflow Arlotta crowds and national television audiences saw ND defeat both in overtime. Jack Near went coast to coast against the Orange while Matt Kavanagh went low far post in a chippy battle versus Carolina.  Mayhem followed each, as did a trip to The Final Four.

An Irish shout out to former ND assistant, now head coach at Monmouth University,  Brian Fisher.  His Hawks upset #16 Villanova 12-10 this past Saturday to begin the program’s fourth season.  Coach Fish recruited some of the Irish seniors before heading to Monmouth.  The team and program have progressed in each of his three years. Congrats!

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Brian Fisher

Friday night happy hour and Saturday pre and post game tailgates will bookend the most important game of the year, Georgetown. The Beare, Finley and Marini families, with support from the ND Alumni Club, have planned quite a weekend.  In person or on ESPNU,  clear your schedule, as ours begins this Saturday at 2:00.  Go Irish!

Take a tour of The Dallas Cowboys $1b home

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An Early Rise

Five different Notre Dame players scored in Sunday’s first quarter, staking the Irish a 6-2 lead they would ride to a 15-6 victory over Detroit in South Bend. Goalie Shane Doss surrendered just two goals while defensemen Pat Healy, Hugh Crance and freshman Jack Kielty stifled the Titan attack. Few ground balls escaped long stick middie John Sexton, who also scored. In all, 13 ND players scored, with Owen Molloy closing the door in goal in the second half. Notre Dame finished the preseason 3-1 with opening day in Dallas on February 18 versus Georgetown.

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Sergio Perkovic scored twice from center ice  between periods Saturday at an ND hockey game, rewarding a young fan with an unexpected prize.

Gina and Brian Collins led parent nation, while taking notes and snapping pictures for this blog.  Many thanks for their efforts at this 8:45 am Super Bowl Sunday affair.

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Brian Collins captured the action on the sideline.

As he’s done throughout the spring, midfielder Brendan Gleason set the Irish in motion after PJ Finley won the opening draw.  Mikey Wynne drew the assist just 47 seconds into the first quarter. Three minutes later, Detroit would tie the game and then take their only lead. Following a smothering ND ride, the Irish forced a turnover. John Sexton would claim the ground ball, streak to net and fire a sidewinder low to high for his second goal of the preseason, deadlocking the score, 2-2 with seven minutes played.  Kyle Hyland joined the face-off rotation, winning a draw that Sergio Perkovic would ultimately launch to the back of the net to reclaim the lead, 3-2.  Ryder Garnsey returned to action,  setting up Pierre Byrne, who’s goal made it 4-2.  Perkovic then returned the favor, setting up a Garnsey score on a man advantage. Wynne would then set up a Garnsey goal to make it 6-2, which is how the quarter ended.

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Nick Koshansky continues to return to form.

The second quarter wasn’t as crisp as the first, with the only goal coming from Mikey Wynne on a precise pass from freshman attackman Brian Willetts.  Finley, John Travisano and Hyland all won faceoffs.  Nick Koshansky, Bobby Collins, Carlson Miliken, Drew Shantz and Bryan Costabile played shutdown defense at midfield. Ben Pridemore returned to action at offensive midfield, with Timmy Philips, Austin Gaiss, Bobby Gray and Brendan Collins joining him. The Irish led 7-2 at the intermission.

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Mikey Wynne scored in the second quarter.

The second half began with Owen Molloy forced to make a few saves just 20 seconds in. It was a prelude of things to come, as Detroit  scored the first two goals, cutting ND’s lead to 7-4 with nine minutes to play.   Austin Gaiss took a pass from Brendan Collins and scored from a tough angle to get one of those goals back.  Bobby Gray would set up Collins, who finished smartly, for a 9-4 lead.  Byrne then fed Perkovic for a brief 10-4 lead. Detroit would close with one of their own to get within 10-5 after three quarters.  LSM Charlie Trense and defenseman Chris Carter joined the game to begin the fourth.

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Owen Molloy made several saves early in the third quarter.

After Finley won a draw, Anthony Marini took a clever pass from Garnsey as he cut to the net, falling and finishing on the back hand to extend the lead to 11-5. Molloy followed with two stellar saves. Freshman Eric Restic, who led several transitions, made an exceptional stop, pushing a Titan out of bounds to gain possession. Enter Drew Schantz, who took possession, galloped, shot and scored to make it 12-5.

Enter Nick Stinn.  After another John Travisano face-off win, a Molloy save keyed the transition where Marini fed Willetts, who finished, extending ND’s lead to 13-5. With 4:30 remaining in the fourth, Detroit got one back. A Hyland face-off win would lead to a Tyler Ruhle goal.  Bobby Gray would score with 39 seconds remaining to close out an unofficial 15-6 Notre Dame victory.  Citi would not confirm Brian Collins’ math.

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Drew Schantz scored in the fourth.

 

 

A fifth quarter featured freshman John Zullo in goal, with Alex Hurdle, Chris Carter, Will Young, Nick Stinn, Auden Menke, Keaton Komatz, Tyler Ruhle and Peter Gayhardt on the field. Restic setup a Costabile score, with Pridemore assisting on Willett’s second goal. Enter Jordan Walter and Stephen Chase.  Costabile then fed Walter for one score, while Gayhardt ripped another. Enter Jacob Kanak, Kyle Borbi and Michael Farnish.  Mitchell Olinger finished at close defense as the quarter and preseason concluded  with a 4-2 result.

The Irish will spend the next  two weeks preparing for what promises to be a spectacular season opener versus Georgetown in the ninth annual Patriot Cup. A link with details including tickets, is below, with more to come…For now, many thanks to the Collins and all of the parents who attended this past weekend. Special thanks to Liz and Paul Finley, Julie Marini and Marcia and Nick Beare, who are planning an eventful weekend in Dallas for ND Nation.  ND/Georgetown Patriot Cup Information

Go Irish!

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Grounded

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Drew Schantz and the ND Defense grounded Air Force.

 

Sergio Perkovic snapped a 2-2 tie in the second quarter, igniting a 6-1 Notre Dame run in leading the Irish to a 10-4 preseason victory versus Air Force in South Bend. For Perkovic, it was his second first-half hat trick in as many games. Hugh Crance, Pat Healy, John Sexton and Garrett Epple,  grounded an Air Force attack that was returning three starters. With the help of Drew Schantz, Carlson Miliken, Nick Koshansky and Bobby Collins, the Falcons were limited to one goal in the second half, making light work for goalies Shane Doss and Owen Molloy in the Loftus Sports Center. After surrendering 10 goals in the first half against Team USA, ND’s defense is allowing six goals per game.

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Sergio Perkovic moved well, scored three.

Saturday’s contest kicked off The 7th Annual NDLaxTV Coaches Clinic powered by Under Armour.  More than 280 youth, high school and travel/club coaches from 26 states gathered in South Bend for two-days of classroom and film instruction. The agenda included presentations on fundamentals, game strategy, nutrition and conditioning. Total attendance for the clinic and scrimmage once again exceeded 1000.

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Kevin Corrigan leads the 7th Annual NDLaxTV Clinic powered by Under Armour

 

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Irish freshman Kyle Hyland and Coach Couch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A wintry mix of snow squalls and cold temperatures greeted parents journeying to South Bend. Some drove, others flew, with Chris Molloy’s single engine landing perhaps the most eventful trip. Gina and Brian Collins hosted the season’s first tailgate at The Inn at Ivy Courts.  A generous spread of breakfast sandwiches, pastries and Bloody Mary’s in the ACC Room fostered freshman introductions and upper class parent reunions.

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A team effort got us cleaned up and to the Loftus Center.  It was great to see two-time Defensive Player of the Year, Matt Landis in town. Matt accompanied Under Armour, who documented much of the weekend’s activities.  Andrew Gleason was also on hand to watch  his cousin, sophomore Brendan Gleason. Many thanks to Kathy Koshansky and Terry Doss for their photography contributions.af17parents2af17parents4

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Air Force sports a preseason ranking of #18 and is the favorite to defend the Southern Conference crown they won last year. The Falcons are coming off a 15-3 season, the best in program history. You’ll recall they entered South Bend last May with a 15-game unbeaten streak, qualifying for their first ever NCAA Tournament. The Irish snapped that streak, defeating the Falcons 15-7 at Arlotta Stadium. On February 6, Air Force will open their 2017 slate in Durham, North Carolina against #7 Duke.  Air Force defeated Duke last year 10-9 in overtime. It won’t get any easier for Air Force, as they travel to Denver take on the #3 ranked Pioneers on February 11.

Senior Shane Doss got the start in goal, with Pat Healy, Garrett Epple and Hugh Crance at close defense. John Sexton was your long stick middie.  PJ Finley took the face off, with a midfield line that would ultimately feature Perkovic, junior Pierre Byrne and Tommy McNamara.  It was Byrne who put the Irish on the board, streaking in from the wing after a few loose ball scrambles.  Disruptive all day, it was Sexton who caused the initial scrum.

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PJ Finley battles at the face-off X.

Gleason would add to the lead, coming in from the box, he circled deep behind the net and continued wide before heading to goal to finish for a 2-0 lead with 7:46 remaining in the first quarter.  Junior John Travisano won his first draw as Nick Koshansky, Eric Restic and Bobby Collins saw their first action.  Restic forced a turnover, which he’s done each game thus far. With the Irish in possession, a middie line of Brendan Collins, Bobby Gray and Austin Gaiss assembled. They moved the ball upfield to join an attack that now featured Gleason, senior Anthony Marini and freshman Brian Willetts.   Air Force got on the board with 2:53 left in the first after a turnover. The quarter closed with ND leading 2-1.

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Brendan Gleason scored twice.

Kyle Hyland took the face off to begin the second quarter.  Air Force would strike first, tying the game at 2-2.  Both teams moved the ball offensively around the perimeter, with the scoring coming from the midfield.  With six minutes played into the second quarter, Sergio Perkovic found space moving to his left, with the help of a pick by  McNamara. Perkovic shot and scored far post, high to low. The sequence followed another caused turnover by Sexton and physical defense by middie Carlson Miliken.  The hustle play of the day came from Crance, who scooped up Sexton’s forced ground ball and took a crunching shot to the mid section to preserve possession. He slid across the track, coming to rest at our feet.  A few minutes later, freshman Peter Gayhardt saw his first action of the season at attack, joining the man advantage unit on a brief Irish possession.

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Kyle Hyland scoops up a face-off win.

Perkovic’s second of the day was high heat, clanging off the cross bar to extend Notre Dame’s lead to 4-2. He turned heads. Gleason followed for his second shortly after another successful clear by Drew Schantz.  He’s got an extra gear. Enter Jack Kielty at close defense.   With momentum on the side of the Irish, ND got caught in a substitution and Air Force capitalized in transition to make it 5-3.  Perkovic answered with his third of the half from deep down Angela Boulevard to put the Irish up 6-3 to end the first half. Time of possession was clearly with Notre Dame. Finley and friends were winning their share of the face offs and subsequent ground balls.

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Peter Gayhardt scored his first preseason goal.

The second half began the same as the first, with Pierre Byrne scoring to extend ND’s lead to 7-3.  Anthony Marini continued the Irish run, picking up a loose ball in front and burying it before being buried and drawing a penalty.  On the ensuing man advantage, Brian Willetts scored on a low shot to the far post.  A 6-1 Irish run now had them leading 9-3. The last three goals came in a four-minute span. Enter Timmy Phillips at midfield.

Air Force got a goal back in transition after an Irish turnover, for the Falcon’s first and only goal of the second half. The third quarter ended with Crance  dismantling an Air Force attack and the Irish leading 9-4.  My statistician, Terry Doss, confirmed two Air Force shots, one goal and zero saves for son Shane in nets in the third.  Tyler Ruhle was now playing attack. Shane Doss would give way to Owen Molloy in goal for the fourth quarter.

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Bryan Costabile hits reverse. He scored and played strong defense.

Brendan Collins fed Brian Willetts for his second goal and a 10-4 Irish lead. Carlson Miliken and Bryan Costabile continued the defensive charge.   The fourth quarter would end with ND ahead 10-4, winning the second half 4-1.  The Irish defense held Air Force to single digit shots in the final 30 minutes.

In a fifth quarter, Will Young was joined at close defense by Chris Carter and Charlie Trense. Charlie Leonard handled face off duties, with Gayhardt, Ruhle and Stephen Chase at attack. Your midfield included Nick Stinn, Costabile and Auden Menke. Keaton Komatz would also play midfield, while Kyle Borbi joined the attack. Charlie Leonard won a face off, leading to a goal scored by Chase, his first in an Irish uniform.  After Air Force scored on a pass into the crease, Komatz scored on a bullet off a nice pass from Chase for a 2-1 ND lead. Enter Patrick Headley and Alex Hurdle on defense.  Bryan Costabile scored to make it 3-1. Fellow freshman Gayhardt then got his first goal on a great pass from Jordan Walter. Goalie Molloy saw little action but was stealth when challenged. The fifth quarter ended with the Irish ahead 4-1.  My count had 41 players seeing action.

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Will Young collected two ground balls.

Notre Dame will now focus efforts on Detroit Mercy for their fourth and final preseason contest. The game will begin on Super Bowl Sunday at 8:45 am in the Loftus Sports Center. Brian and Gina Collins will lead parent nation. The Irish defeated Detroit last year 14-5 during the regular season, coming back from an early deficit. The Titans return their leading scorer, experience on defense and a goalie who’s trained with Team Canada and earned preseason All-America honorable mention from Inside Lacrosse Magazine. The Titans open their season on February 11 at Ohio State and then host Michigan just four days later.

Welcome to February! By  the time Notre Dame faces off on Sunday, #1 UNC, #5 Loyola and #7 Duke will have already played their first regular season game. It’s go time….Go Irish!

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Pass Or Fail

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Brendan Gleason scored three goals as part of an 8-0 first quarter Notre Dame run on Sunday, leading the Irish  to a 15-7 preseason victory over Bellarmine at The Loftus Center. Sergio Perkovic also finished with three first half goals, while goalie Shane Doss and the Irish defense limited the Knights to  three first half goals.   PJ Finley had success at the faceoff X, as did mates John Travisano and Kyle Hyland.   Nick Koshansky made his return, bringing more depth to a talented stable of defensive middies.  Returning from Sarasota, this was a gauge of focus and discipline. How would a young team respond at home after playing some of the world’s best? #Avoiding A Slow Start….they passed.

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Shane Doss and Garrett Epple led a stingy Irish defense.

Members of The Southern Conference, Bellarmine finished  6-9 overall last year, 4-3 in conference play.  They lost to #12 Air Force 10-8  in the semifinals of the SoCon Tournament to end their season. You’ll recall ND defeated the Knights in an 11-6 February contest last year.  Senior Eddy Lubowicki collected a career-best four goals, while Shane Doss posted eight saves.  The Irish raced at to an 8-3 halftime lead.

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Eddy Lubowicki scored four last year vs Bellarmine.

 

After surrendering the game’s first goal this past Sunday,  the Irish responded. Finley won the ensuing faceoff, streaking toward net, he drew the defensive slide and fed Gleason, who smartly finished.  Gleason would give the Irish a 2-1 lead moments later, coming  from behind the net to score. A parade of middies led by Brendan Collins, Sergio Perkovic and Bobby Gray then scored in succession, staking the Irish to a  sudden 5-1 advantage.

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Brendan Gleason unleashed a laser from Eddy Street.

Collins was fed nicely by freshman attack Brian Willetts.  Perkovic and Gray launched missiles. Anthony Marini continued the scoring with a wrap around from behind to make it 6-1. Punctuating the scoring run, Gleason provided a Sports Center Moment, when he raced in from the sideline box and ripped a sidearm howitzer in stride that rang off the crossbar and in for his third goal of the quarter. It was audacious and should have counted for three. Teammates and fans howled!   The Irish were up 7-1 with only nine minutes and two of the team’s offensive threats yet to hit the field.

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Sergio Pervokic was shadowed and still scored three in the first half.

Perkovic would score two more in the second quarter, along with Timmy Phillips and the half would end with Notre Dame leading 11-3. Without statistics to verify, the first half was all about possessions. Where the Irish turned the ball over in the first half versus Team USA, on Sunday, they won faceoffs, shared the ball, got first and second chances and scored. They then won faceoffs and/or ground balls – John Sexton, Hugh Crance, Pat Healy and Carlson Miliken dominated ground balls, enabling the offense to start the cycle over.

In the second half, Owen Molloy replaced Doss. He made several saves in tight. Bryan Costabile, Bobby Collins and Austin Gaiss owned midfield. Drew Schantz excelled in transition.

Goals in the third quarter came from Marini and Pierre Byrne on a nice feed from Mikey Wynne. Willetts and Tyler Ruhle would finish the quarter at attack. Will Young joined at close defense, along with Chris Carter.  The quarter ended with the Irish up 14-5.

                       Above…Anthony Marini (#4), Pierre Byrne (#33) and Brian Willetts (#18) each scored for the Irish.

The fourth quarter featured freshman Brian Willetts’ first goal on a nice feed from Perkovic, giving the Irish an unofficial 15-5 lead.  Charlie Trense played well at LSM and Eric Restic continued to compete at close defense. Bellarmine would score two late to conclude four quarters and by my count, a 15-7 Irish win.  Freshman goalie John Zullo took over in a fifth quarter that included Stephen Chase and Peter Gayhardt at attack, Alex Hurdle on defense and Auden Menke at midfield. Apologies for those players that I missed. The game provided players and coaches a different venue, opponent and set of circumstances in preparation for February’s 18th season opener.  My thanks to John Marchese who’s efforts to travel and produce great photography are what make this blog special.  And a shout out to the nice people at the Cafe at the Overlook.  They shut down this past Sunday after two years of great food and service. My egg/sausage sandwich was among the last served. It was comical and delicious. They’ll be back.  We’re on to the next, Saturday at noon versus #18 Air Force.

Above…Bryan Costabile (#26), Austin Gaiss (#1), Owen Molloy (#54) and Jordan Walter (#15) contributed Sunday.

The Falcon’s finished 2016  with a 15-3 record, the program’s best year.  They defeated Duke en route to winning 15 consecutive games before arriving in South Bend. Their only losses were to ND, Navy and Denver.  They’ll bring three starters back on attack, a sharp-shooting midfielder and a defender who earned Southern Conference Freshman of the Year.

A note of interest for 2017…… The ACC Tournament will be held at Duke’s Koskinen Stadium. The top four seeds following the regular season will compete for the title, but it will not afford the winner an Automatic Qualifier (AQ) to the NCAA Tournament…. Despite teams ranked #1, #4, #5, #7 and #16 in the Coaches Poll, the ACC only has five teams in its conference. To earn an AQ, a conference must have at least six members. Maryland departed the ACC three years ago. The University of Pennsylvania will likely play the ACC team that doesn’t qualify for the ACC Tournament. Expect at least four ACC teams to qualify based on record, rank and strength of schedule.bellphoto

At the conclusion of Saturday’s scrimmage with #18 Air Force, Coaches Kevin Corrigan, Gerry Byrne and Matt Karwick will kick off Notre Dame’s National Coaching Clinic. The clinic attracts coaches from around the country to discuss fundamentals, tactics and strategy. Registration is noon on Saturday at The Loftus Sports Center.

See you Saturday in South Bend!  Go Irish!

 

 

 

 

And We’re Off……

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A  7-6 second half effort against Team USA on Saturday at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida wasn’t enough as Notre Dame fell short in their preseason opener, 16-11. The game was the culmination of a five-day season kickoff under sunny skies and 75-degree temperatures.  Conditioning and game preparation were combined with leadership development and team bonding.

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Frosh Kyle Hyland won 4/9 faceoffs.

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Ryder Garnsey collected 2 goals, 3 assists.

The team arrived in Sarasota on Wednesday.  Entering his 29th season as head coach, Kevin Corrigan brought with him three preseason, first team All-Americans in midfielder Sergio Perkovic, defenseman Garrett Epple and goalie Shane Doss. The trio were recognized by Inside Lacrosse Magazine as part of a Notre Dame squad that begins the season ranked #4. Perkovic will no doubt get early season Tewaaraton Trophy support as the nation’s top player.  The three seniors are part of a class that’s finished #2, #3 and #5 in final rankings. They were joined on the preseason Inside Lacrosse All America list by junior John Sexton, sophomore Ryder Garnsey and junior Mikey Wynne.  The magazine projected the Irish to battle North Carolina and Syracuse for the Atlantic Coast Conference Crown.  This year’s ACC Tournament will be hosted by Duke in Durham.usavitalehouse2
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Following Wednesday’s conditioning and practice, the players were hosted by ESPN’s Dick Vitale in his spacious home.  The legendary basketball commentator provided dinner and inspring words. He referenced hosting the team the following night live during the ND/Miami basketball game. Thursday night’s dinner host was ND alum and Mendoza Business School Professor Dan Connors.  You’ll recall Connors hosted the Steak & Hot Dog Dinner at his Michigan home this past fall. Tony and Terri Miliken hosted the team and parents on Friday night at their beautiful Siesta Key residence. We’re excited to welcome the Milikens to the Irish family.

Practice and leadership development discussions facilitated by David Lynn on Friday and Saturday led to Sunday’s match up against Team USA.  Coached by Duke’s John Danowski, Team USA is a roster of college All-American and pro talent including former Notre Dame Tewaaraton finalist Matt Kavanagh. Denver’s Trevor Baptiste also played, giving PJ Finley, John Travisano and freshman Kyle Hyland an early test at the faceoff X. Baptiste won 67% of his draws last year.
The Irish began the game with Owen Molloy in goal, Garrett Epple, Pat Healy  and Hugh Crance at close defense and  John Sexton at long stick middie.   Drew Schanz, Bobby Collins, and Virginia senior transfer Carlson Miliken rotated at defensive middie, with Austin Gaiss and Team USA U-19 member Bryan Costabile providing depth.   Nick Koshansky’s return solidifies what Inside Lacrosse considers, the nation’s best defensive midfield unit. They were tested early, as midfielder Joe Walters got Team USA on the board first before Sergio Perkovic tied it on a tough angle shot.
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Freshman midfielder Tommy McNamara

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Bobby Collins tracks down Matt Danowski

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Anthony Marini clangs a post.

Perkovic’s midfield line included sophomore Brendan Gleason and freshman Tommy McNamara. All three can dodge, with sniper shooting talent. Tewaaraton Trophy winner Rob Pannell executed his patented question mark roll to his left, firing high past goalie Molloy to put Team USA up 2-1. Unforced turnovers revealed off-season Irish rust. Mikey Wynne would score the first of his three goals on a neat pass from Ryder Garnsey. Meanwhile, questions about the defense were being answered, as Epple, Crance and Healy were physical. Team USA scored twice more to end the first quarter leading 5-2.
Pierre Byrne, Timmy Phillips and Ben Pridemore were fleet and energized as a second midfield line. Pannell would get his second to make it 6-2 before sophomore Drew Schantz would get one back with a transition goal to get within 6-3. Patrick Hadley would see some quality time at Long Stick Middie, while Bobby Gray, Brendan Collins and Nick Stin showed our depth at offensive midfield. The half would end with Garnsey scoring to pull the Irish to within 10-4.  Unforced errors led to 13 turnovers, preventing the Irish from possessions and putting the defense on their heels. While the offense scored only four goals, they took but 10 shots. The second half began with the same attack,  Wynne, Garnsey and senior Anthony Marini. Freshman Brian Willetts joined on man advantage opportunities. With turnovers cut in half, the Irish converted possessions into goals, with Wynne, Schantz, Pierre Byrne and Garnsey  scoring in succession to cut Team USA’s lead to 13-8 after three quarters.
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Mikey Wynne collected 3 goals.

Sergio’s second of the game brought the Irish within 13-9 before Mike Channenchuk would end the run. Mikey Wynne would score his third of the game, while the defense continued to tighten. Sophomore Will Young and freshman Jack Kielty competed to provide needed depth. The face off trio, led by senior Finley also improved.  John Travisano won 5/8 while freshman Kyle Hyland won 4/9. Another freshman, Eric Restic, saw extensive time at long stick middie, which is how we end.  With the game’s outcome certain, senior All American Shane Doss made a brilliant save up high. An urgent outlet pass went to long stick middie Sexton, who caught the ball at midfield and needed little encouragement. Heading straight to the net, he reared back and fired to ripple the twine, giving his parents and the crowd a highlight to go home. You can review most of the highlights, thanks to Inside Lacrosse Magazine and the link below.
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Owen Molloy got the start in goal, while Jack Kielty collected two ground balls.

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Hugh Crance led the team with four ground balls.

Special thanks to Liz and Paul Finley for their tailgate coordination. Julie Marini kept Irish nation in step with the team. It’s always great to see legacy Irish… Jane, Geoff and Jim Marlatt along with Mary Kavanagh were at the game. Not surprisingly,  both families have more players in the pipeline.  John and Bobby Arlotta were also on hand.  Lastly,  my thanks to John Marchese and  Terry Doss for their outstanding photography.  Shot, sorted and posted by Tuesday while traveling is challenging.
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Eamon McAnaney

An Irish shout out to four-year Notre Dame letterman and ESPN broadcaster Eamon McAnaneny, who recently accepted a full-time role with SportsNet New York. A standout defenseman and captain at Notre Dame, McAnaney will be forced to relinquish his ESPN duties. He’s truly one of the best ambassadors in college lacrosse.  Lax Film Room produced a montage of McAnaneny classics, which include several Notre Dame contests.  You can relive those moments by clicking on the link below. Eamon’s promised to make a few tailgate appearances.

The Irish welcome Bellarmine this Sunday for the second of four preseason contests.  The #18 Air Force Academy and Detroit on Super Bowl Sunday round out the preseason. Notre Dame’s season opener versus Georgetown is part of the Patriot Cup at Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, Texas. A full day of lacrosse festivities is planned, with the Irish/Hoya tilt broadcast live on ESPNU. The Star is a 91-acre facility that serves as home to the Dallas Cowboys.  The regular season schedule can be found at the top of this page.  patriotcup_215x128

A link for those interested in Notre Dame’s Holy Half Marathon on Saturday, April 1 is below. There is a limitation of 1500 runners.  Laurie Travisano is registered and expects several of you to join her.  You’ll recall, six of us showed last year, only to have the race cancelled at the start due to a snow squall. The sun came out an hour later. We’re expecting Ed Lubowicki and Rob Kelly to return.   Holy Half Marathon Registration

A memorable season has begun. See you in South Bend this weekend. Go Irish!

Drawing Crowds

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Fall ball intensified and then concluded, with the final three weeks providing great exposure and drawing generous crowds.  Trips to Long Island, The Bronx , Chicago and New York City exposed the team to quality competition and a view of life after lax. The Irish scrimmaged The Naval Academy and Stony Brook University in Long Island. The following day, they spread goodwill with a youth clinic in The Bronx before a spirited, but soggy scrum with a talented  Notre Dame alumni squad. The following week included a youth clinic in Chicago and the team’s final intrasquad scrimmage on campus.  The Fall Experience concluded with the annual  junior trip to New York City, where business introductions and presentations seeded summer internships on Wall Street and at Rockefeller Center. Since October 1, the team’s played  12 quarters of up tempo lacrosse. The alumni will tell you they posed the most fierce competition.  Each chapter had its moments. All drew generous crowds.sbtailgate

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Parents, friends and alums ventured to Long Island, eager to see the Irish compete in an off-campus competition.  The season’s first tailgate was led by Liz and Paul Finley, Rob Simpson, Lisa Koshansky and Julie Marini.  Kathy Koshansky, a 30-year Stony Brook faculty member, lent a helpful hand. Special thanks to Ed and Beth Lubowicki, last year’s leaders of parent nation. They  joined us and graciously donated the larger-than-life leprechaun that greeted Irish tailgaters. An Irish salute to team assistant Rob Simpson, who secured a tent that accommodated a crowd of 200.  Chicken, authentic Long Island sandwiches, tomato pie and a rich assortment of desserts were plentiful. Many thanks to John Marchese, Kathy Koshansky and Liz Finley for more than 500 photos. They endured a soggy Long Island rain.

The 2016-2017 edition of Irish lacrosse hit the turf at Stony Brook’s LaValle Stadium for a high-noon encounter with Navy.  The Midshipmen finished 2016 with an 11-5 record.  They upset #4 Yale on the road in the NCAA Tournament before falling to #5 Brown 11-10.  Navy’s defense was ranked as high as second nationally last year.

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Sophomore Brendan Gleason got the Irish on the board early, teamed on a line with Mikey Wynne and Ryder Garnsey.  Their ball movement was crisp. The offensive middies included senior Sergio Perkovic, freshman Tommy McNamara and junior Pierre Byrne.  Faceoffs was handled by senior PJ Finely and junior John Travisano. Long Stick middie extraordinaire John Sexton was active and was joined on defense by sophomore Drew Schantz, junior Patrick Hadley and senior  Bobby Collins.  They were physical in slowing Navy’s transition from defense to offense. Notre Dame’s defense was led by senior goalie Shane Doss.

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Brendan Gleason scored three quickly.

Pat Healey, Hugh Crance and Will Young formed the Irish close defense, challenged to replace two-year starters Matt Landis and Eddy Glazener.  Landis was a two-time defensive player of the year and Tewaraaton Trophy finalist. Glazener was the defensive quarterback, along with an accomplished bag piper.

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Junior LSM John Sexton was active at both ends of the field.

Sophomore Timmy Phillips put the Irish up 2-0 on a nice feed from Garnsey.  Navy would respond with two goals to bring the quarter to close, tied at two. The coaches agreed to keep score by quarter, so freshman Tommy McNamara’s neat dodge up top that led to his first Irish score put ND out front 1-0 in quarter two. Doss made a stellar kick save before Garnsey made it 2-0, somehow getting his hands free in congestion. Navy struck back to close to 2-1. Gleason launched two more to complete a hat trick.  Doss would close out the quarter with quick save up high and the Irish leading 4-1.  Credit Healey, Crance and Young, who kept the play in front of them. I had the halftime score at 6-3. Navy would score twice in the third quarter, to take that frame 2-0, despite two stall warnings.

Freshman Kyle Hyland saw his first face off activity, while freshman Jack Kielty and  sophomore Charlie Trense contributed on the defensive effort. Junior Kyle Borbi joined the midfield. Sophomore Mike Marchese relieved Doss in goal for the fourth quarter. After Navy jumped out to a 1-0 lead, Marchese made two stout saves and a smart outlet pass. Long Island native Jordan Walter scored his first goal with 5:43 remaining to tie the fourth quarter contest at 1.  Freshman midfielder Keaton Komatz gave the Irish a lead with his first tally, before Navy would respond to tie the game at 2.

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Senior Shane Doss looked sharp.

The Midshipmen would take a 3-2 lead 14 seconds remaining. Off the faceoff, freshman LSM Charlie Leonard raced down field and rang a shot off of the post with five seconds remaining, leaving the teams tied at 8 after four quarters.  Plenty of reason for optimism.

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Carlson Milikin played stout defense.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With barely a sip of water and mild stretching,  the Irish rolled into their scrimmage with host Stony Brook. The Seawolves finished 2016 with a 12-4 record and were ranked as high as 8th. Owen Molloy got the start in goal for ND.  He began the game stoning a Seawolve on the crease. Notre Dame’s McNamara began the scoring, coming in from the wing for his second goal of the day. Mikey Wynne put the Irish up 2-0 with a neat backhand shovel shot in close. Sophomore Nick Stinn joined Drew Schantz at midfield, with Patrick Hadley continuing to play well at LSM.  Navy scored before lefty Bobby Gray would dodge left, while shooting low, far side right to put ND up 3-1.  He’s done that a few times before.

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Bobby Gray went low, far post against Stony Brook.

After Sergio Perkovic fired a shot off the goalie’s mask, Stony Brook would score  to end the quarter with the Irish leading 3-2. The Irish deployed a  middie line of Brendan Collins, Pierre Byrne and Tommy McNamara. Freshman Eric Restic played very well on defense. The Seawolves jumped out to a 2-0 before Ryder Garnsey fed Mikey Wynne in tight for an Irish goal. ND’s Molloy would then register a brilliant save on the doorstep.  The Irish and Sea Wolves exchanged goals, thanks to Perkovic and Pierre Byrne. My math had the Irish up 6-5 at halftime.  Special thanks to Linda and Mike Carter, who distributed enlarged, laminated lineup cards prior to the game.  Lots of new faces and even more new numbers. Ryder Garnsey opened the scoring in the third quarter, coming in from behind the net.  While Professor Gerry Byrne was teaching his new defensive assignments, ND’s Timmy Phillips would add his second of the day to tie the score at 2. That’s when Mikey Wynne spotted senior Anthony Marini, who sent a low liner far post to put the Irish up 3-2 with 2:33 remaining.  Jack Beare entered at attack for the Irish.

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John Travisano was strong in face-off battles.

The fourth quarter began  with freshman Brian Willetts, Beare and Tyler Ruhle at attack. Mike Marchese returned to goalie, posting two strong saves. Stephen Chase joined the attack, with Mitchell Olinger, Jacob Kanak and Chris Carter playing close defense. Kyle Borbi returned to midfield, while Charlie Leonard claimed a faceoff win. Stony Brook closed out a strong fourth quarter with a 4-0 run amidst a steady drizzle.

Sunday’s festivities moved to the Bronx and Cardinal Spellman High School.  Teaming with CityLax, the Irish tutored players of all skill levels. A few downpours did little to distract from the moment.  Despite the weather, the turnout, tips and new friendships served the players and the game well.

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What rain? ND coach Kevin Corrigan greeted CityLax on a Sunday in the Bronx.

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Team USA and ND defenseman Hugh Crance.

The clinic included skill development with the ND players, a coaching clinic and a question and answer session in the Cardinal Spellman gymnasium. ND lacrosse alum Dan Pace  generously donated the bagels. Immediately following the clinic,  a pair of Notre Dame lacrosse teams headed outside to engage in a cold, soggy battle.  An Irish alumni squad of 40 paraded behind ND’s original bag piper Sean Meehan, who’s talent inspired the current lacrosse tradition in 1996. Six pipers have followed.

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ND’s original piper Sean Meehan led the alums.

Smartly dressed in gold uniforms and assorted helmets, the alums included eight All-Americans and two Tewaaraton Trophy finalists. The current team had 50 or so that could play as well. Conor Kelly, Kyle Ripp and Rob Simpson sparkled between the pipes for the alums. Kelly started, posting signature saves early. Ripp was equally sound. Simpson finished, with a flurry of kick saves after ducking a Sergio Perkovic laser. For a day, they traded professional careers representing Citi, Morgan Stanley, UBS, Riverside, JLL, IBM, Deloitte, ESPN, Time Warner and Piper Jaffray to rekindle college relationships and memories of Irish glory. The alums got an extra boost from Eamon McAnaneny, who left his ESPN booth to suit up. Classes were represented from the club team of 1965 through last year’s accomplished seniors.  They were spirited,

image-1-3in surprisingly good shape and scored first. Imagine, a stable of thoroughbreds, representing the same school, thundering on a rainy October Sunday in the Bronx.  Only Notre Dame.  It was equally great to see alumni parents John and Michelle Soscia, Bob and Barbara Rogers, Debbie and Tim Brenneman, Bob and Norma Landis and Doug, Joy, Joy Marie and Cal Hopkins. Apologies for those that I missed.

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While the current team quickly responded with goals of their own, it was clear that Kelly was sharp, Kevin Randle was fiery,  Zack Brenneman and Jack Near were still fleet and Matt Landis, Steve O’Hara and Eddy Glazener were unyielding  Coach Matt Karweck played and held little back.  My math had the score even at eight.  Nobody requested overtime.

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The annual trip to Chicago followed,  with the Irish landing in Garfield Park with The OWLS as part of the ND’s Playing For Peace Initiative. OWLS, (Outreach With Lacrosse & Schools), creates opportunity for Chicago’s most at-risk youth through scholarship, service and the sport of lacrosse. This year’s event included visits from local teachers, police, government employees and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. The focus of “Playing for Peace” is to publicly display how the OWLS organization can help strengthen the many communities of Chicago through peaceful play. The day included team-building with police officers, peace projects, lacrosse clinics, local music, and closed with a “Blue and Gold” Scrimmage under the lights.

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The Fall Experience concluded with the Annual Junior Networking event in New York City.  Lacrosse alums from some of New York’s most prestigious firms hosted networking meetings and meals.  Several of this year’s senior class already have job offers secured through the networking they did as a junior at this NYC event.  Nowhere is the Notre Dame Network more evident than in the lacrosse community in New York City. For two days, players stepped into the cubes, conference rooms and trading desks of those who played before them.  Fellowship always follows.

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JLL Group executive and ND parent of two gold domers, Steve Collins, met with members of the junior class.

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NBC Universal provided a broad look into media.

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Conditioning, box competition and class work will take the team up to the holidays. Preseason will take us to Sarasota in January to battle Team USA.  We’ll kick off the season with Georgetown in Texas in February. As we learn of details, we’ll share.  TV coverage subjects everything to change. For now, enjoy the Fall.  Go Irish!

 

Fall Ball

 

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Saturday’s 13-7 Team A-1 victory over Team Prime in the annual Steak & Hot Dog  Game marked the midpoint of the  2016 Notre Dame Lacrosse Fall Ball schedule.   What began in early September with conditioning and competitive Blue/Gold Scrimmages, intensifies this weekend with the team traveling to Long Island. The Irish will battle Navy and Stony Brook at Stony Brook University’s LaValle Stadium on Saturday. There will be little rest on Sunday, with ND traveling to Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx to challenge an Irish alumni squad.  Prior to the contest, both squads will team with CityLax and Harlem Lacrosse and Leadership in a youth clinic.  Food trucks and live music will bring a carnival atmosphere.city-lax

Drafted by senior captains, Saturday’s Steak & Hot Dog rosters were locked and published with Team A-1 a prohibitive favorite on Twitter. Each roster included one Collins, a Patrick and an Anthony, along with a Healey or a Hadley. Team Prime, coached by Matt Karweck, wore Irish gold pinneys, while Coach Gerry Byrne’s A-1 dressed in assorted pro and college retro jerseys. Stretches of the action were broadcast live on Periscope and FaceBook, with each team supplying color commentating and sideline insight.   Animated goal-scoring celebrations upheld tradition.  Twitter chirped a few highlights, which can be seen via the link below.

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Winning Coach Gerry Byrne

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On Sunday, the competition moved to Niles, Michigan and featured corn hole and longest drive contests, along with steak and hot dogs. Dan Connors, currently serving as adjunct professor at ND’s Mendoza College of Business, served as gracious host. Before joining Mendoza’s staff, Dan worked internationally for Bain & Company.  He began his career as an Air Force Captain attorney in the Air Force’s General Counsel’s Office at the Pentagon.  He practiced law for 10 years in Washington, D.C., before moving on to serve as Chairman and CEO of several companies. He developed a knack for turning companies around.  On Sunday, he made certain Team A-1 enjoyed their steak.

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Longest Drive teed off from back lawn.

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Steaks were plentiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This weekend’s competition will include many new faces, as the freshman class includes 15 players.  Big shoes need filling with the graduation of All-Americans Matt Landis and Matt Kavanagh along with the one of the program’s most accomplished senior classes. That was evident when  Kavanagh teamed with former Irish mate Nick Ossello to win a Major Lacrosse League Championship this past summer with the Denver Outlaws. ND All-American Scott Rogers  was the opposing goalie. Rogers also earned MVP honors in this year’s All-Star Game.

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Matt Kavanagh and Nick Ossello won a title.

Landis also enjoyed his pro debut with the Florida Launch, while joining Under Armour’s Endorsed Team of Athletes. Another title enjoyed by Irish laxmen was a U-19 World Cup Championship, earned by sophomore defenseman Hugh Crance and freshman midfielder Bryan Costabile.  The US trailed 0-6 early, but scored with eight seconds remaining to defeat Canada 13-12 in Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada. Congrats to Matt, Nick, Matt, Scott, Hugh and Bryan.

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ND’s Bryan Costabile and Hugh Crance struck gold.

Saturday’s scrimmages begin with Navy and Stony Brook at 10:00 am. Notre Dame will battle Navy at noon. ND will face host Stony Brook at 2:00. Tailgating plans pre and post game are in progress. Sunday’s Clinic begins at 10:00 am with the much-anticipated alumni affair slated for 12:00 noon. The team will finish their fall slate with a Blue/Gold Intrasquad contest on Saturday, October 15 prior to the home football game versus Stanford. ND’s complete Fall Lacrosse Schedule can be viewed below.  Hope to see you Saturday on Long Island.  Go Irish.

ND Fall Lacrosse Schedule

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Welcome to Long Island!

 

Amazing Grace

 

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Watching Denver celebrate an overtime victory in last year’s semifinal win over Notre Dame, Irish fans searched for solace. The Irish had rallied behind an epic, individual performance to force sudden death. A brief moment with the ball and a chance to win was in our possession, then suddenly stolen.  In a blink, the ball was transitioned to offense, where the Pioneer’s senior sniper would terminate Irish hopes. Post game celebrations were cancelled. A return to the championship stage cut short.  A silver lining….next season.

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While a gutty group of seniors would depart, the returning squad was armed with Tewaaraton talent at attack, midfield and defense.  An injured scorer would rehab and return, determined to finish one of the program’s most decorated careers.  A defensive player of the year would come back to lead others while a midfield hitman would return and evolve. Goaltending talent had depth and upside, while the attack was deepest yet. Midfield would offer the most questions, as the departing class was stout. New talent was athletic and skilled. In time, they would distribute and transition on offense, run and bang on defense.  On paper, athletic and accomplished.  On the field, time would determine.

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As fall arrived,  skills quickly surfaced, wearing new numbers, personalities and character. Scrimmages would reveal potential. Then came winter, midterms, workouts in The Gug, box sessions, beep tests, snow, preseason rankings and expectations. A decorated class of seniors was prepared to step forward and capture an elusive crown. For the first time ever, Notre Dame entered February atop the preseason rankings.  Would two consecutive trips to The Final Four be followed with a third and a title?

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This past Sunday, aspirations to return to Philadelphia and erase that Denver loss were cut short. A North Carolina team who received one of the tournament’s final bids, defeated Notre Dame 13-9  in an NCAA Quarterfinal contest played in Columbus, Ohio. Playing as the #3 seed, Notre Dame surrendered eight consecutive goals while scoring a season low three goals through three quarters.QFShane

That 8-0 Carolina run began in the first quarter and ended in the third.  While the Tar Heels had defeated the Irish a month ago, they had also yielded 15 goals in that game.  Sunday, Carolina held the Irish to three goals on 24 shots (13%), while shooting 35% themselves.   QFSheridanGaining possessions was equally challenging, with Carolina claiming 17/25 faceoffs. Irish goalie Shane Doss made five saves in a third period where he faced 16 shots.  Mikey Wynne led the Irish offense, scoring four to finish at 40 for the year. Despite spending nine weeks ranked atop 71 division one programs, the Irish were eliminated. A sudden ending for one of the program’s most successful teams.

QFParents!With amazing grace and class, the seniors stepped forward and then aside, thanking coaches and encouraging the upcoming class.  Their resume included one championship, one semifinal and two NCAA quarterfinal appearances.  An Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament Championship, 45 victories, two Tewaaraton finalists, All American and All Conference accolades, a parade of ACC Player of the Week honors, post graduate scholarships and full-time employment at Citi, Deloitte, Jefferies and Credit Suisse to name a few. A class with high expectations, achieved unparalleled results, yet departed disappointed.  Perspective over time will position this amazing class as one of ND’s greatest.

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QFWynne4As we staked  fall tents at Georgetown Prep, Beth and Ed Lubowicki began scheming to lead Parent Nation. Collaborating with Jonathan Rodak, hotels would be contracted, tailgates planned, team snacks ordered, game watches organized, apparel reviewed, rosters laminated, blogs organized and parents introduced. A cold spring arrived and a season of high expectations was underway.Grace Hall Signage

We began with barbecue and a combined seven goals from Mikey Wynne and Sergio Perkovic in a win against #13 Georgetown in Atlanta. Goalie Shane Doss posted 14 saves. Parent Ed Lubowicki led a team effort to support John Michael, a young lacrosse player, recovering from a rare stroke. We moved indoors to Loftus, where Eddy Lubowicki scored four to handle Bellarmine. A wintry storm moved the game indoors. Junior Nick Koshansky was dominant.  We stayed inside in defeating Detroit 14-6. Mikey Wynne scored six, while Doss, Landis and a smothering defense held Detroit to two goals. Grace Hall was illuminated with a #1, confirming the team’s national ranking. A Wynne over Maryland was fueled by a physical defense and a four-goal performance by Mikey Wynne in front of a sellout crowd.  The victory capped another memorable trip to California. The Crances and Glazeners entertained us, while GW and Mary Mix produced a first-class  Pacific Shootout.

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Another miracle comeback against Denver fell short in overtime. Four goals in a 43-second span gave us a late lead, but a Pioneer comeback in Arlotta would strip us of our #1 ranking. A return to Arlotta and overtime the following week versus Virginia would provide a better result. Sergio Perkovic would score late to tie and in overtime to win, while Doss turned in another 14-save performance. Alums Regis McDermott and Bob Rogers organized a game watch in New York that drew an overflow crowd. That crew also rallied to encourage Rob Gilmartin, who continues his fight against cancer.  A trip to Columbus saw us turn away an edgy Buckeye team in the Horseshoe.  Four different scorers complimented a steady defense and a robust midfield performance.  The Ollingers visited from California, the Trolleys from Canada and Marlotts from Virginia. The Beatties own Columbus and fed us pre and post game.DETWynne2

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Syracuse was next, celebrating 100 years of lacrosse. We ruined their party with a 10-goal victory, the worst Cuse home loss in 29 years. We’ll remember Matt Kavanagh’s nine points , Ryder Garnsey’s five goals, Austin Gaiss’ coast to coast  dash for his first goal, the season’s best barbecue and worst early morning snow. A return to Arlotta brought more drama with a come from behind win versus dreaded VALuboVASchantz

Duke in the game’s final minutes. Matt Landis, Garrett Epple and Eddy Glazener limited Duke’s offense to one goal in the final 26 minutes.  The game was played in 30-degree temperatures with The Holy Half cancelled due to snow. We moved to 8-1 overall, 3-0 in the ACC.  Just three days later, we turned away an upstart Marquette team in overtime. Marquette entered Arlotta 8-1 and ranked #17.  Matt Kavanagh scored early in overtime  after John Travisano collected his seventh faceoff win, a career-best.OSUPridemoreOSUPJ

Ranked #1, we traveled to Chapel Hill 9-1 and 3-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. A win would secure a second consecutive, undefeated regular conference title.   A 6-1 third SYGaiss

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quarter run provided  a 14-9  advantage going into the fourth quarter. Owning the nation’s best defense,  we led by five with 10 minutes remaining.   Carolina would score and win the ensuing faceoffs, leading to a 7-0 run. They outshot ND 18-6 and outscored the Irish 8-1 in the fourth en route to a devastating 17-15 loss.

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A week later, we led Duke 8-6 after three quarters,  only to suffer another fatal fourth quarter and an early departure in the ACC Tournament semifinals. Duke outscored us 3-1 in the fourth to force overtime, where they converted in 40 seconds. Suddenly, we had lost two consecutive games, surrendering fourth quarter leads.

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We caught our breath against Army, methodically scoring and defending in the senior’s regular season finale. Garnsey scored four, Doss allowed only three, with the defense focused. We tackled the Linebacker late into the night, one last time.  Named the #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, we hosted another armed forces unit, Air Force. Another five-goal run in the second period ended the Falcon’s 15-game winning streak. Finley and friends won faceoffs, Wynne scored five and the defense was physical en route to a 13-7 win. We advanced to Columbus and the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals for a program record seventh consecutive year to play North Carolina. The Tar Heels had defeated #6 Marquette in Milwaukee after the home team had a chance to tie in the final minute.armylubo

 

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It was a rematch few expected, but we all wanted. Invited to the tournament largely on their 17-15 victory over Notre Dame a month earlier, Carolina had not won a quarterfinal match in the NCAA Tournament since 1993. For the Irish, a revenge win would put them in the Final Four a program-record third consecutive time.  For the Irish parents, the commute to Philadelphia would serve as a home game, with 29 of 49 players living in neighboring PA, NJ, MD or NY.

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Notre Dame and North Carolina had played 14 games, with each team winning seven.  No game had been decided by more than three goals. Four of the past five were decided by one. Two required overtime.  With Denver and Duke already eliminated, Sunday’s winner would be favored versus Loyola.

Parents gathered at Claddaugh’s Irish Pub on Saturday evening, stretching their legs and calming their nerves from the rainy commute to Columbus. Sunday’s pre-game at The Varsity, just off campus, got started at 9:00 am.  Both events were packed with determined Irish followers.QFPhillips

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Under bright sunshine, Carolina scored first, only to see Mikey Wynne tie it, as he had all year.  Carolina responded,  before Matt Kavanagh tied it with 0:39 remaining in the quarter.  As Denver had in last year’s bout, Carolina struck quickly to regain the lead 3-2 just seven seconds later.  QFDosssave

The quarter would end with the Tar Heels leading 3-2, playing carefree.  They would go on an 8-0 run, shutting out Notre Dame in the second quarter….and into the final two minutes of the third.

QFLandis! ND’s defense had shut down Denver, Duke, Syracuse in similar fashion. Long stretches without a goal.  The Irish offense had yet to be shutout for such a stretch all season. Through the first half, statistically, the game was close. But the third quarter was a different matter, as Carolina outshot ND 16-7.  Doss was forced to make five saves while Carolina’s Brian Balkam made one.  The entire quarter and perhaps the team’s destiny seemed to be captured in the half’s first 15 seconds.  Trailing 6-2, the Irish won the faceoff, moved the ball quickly to position Sergio Perkovic square to the net from 10 feet out.  Perkovic shot high to low. Balkam not only smothered the shot at his feet, his outlet pass came quickly.  QFBCollins

Carolina found space within the Irish defense and scored. The sequence represented a two goal swing, with the fortune of each team portrayed.  ND now trailed 7-2.  It felt more like Denver than Carolina.  The run continued until Mikey Wynne got one back with under two minutes remaining in the third. Again, Carolina got that goal back 42 seconds later to end the third leading 11-3.  Culture, tradition and faith required the game to be played out.  This team in particular had staged epic comebacks.

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The quarterfinal comeback against Albany just two years ago is one for the ages. Comebacks against Carolina have occurred in each of the past two years.  Six goals in the fourth quarter, got ND to within 13-9, but left us shy of advancing to Philadelphia.  Sadly, I was forced to pass Lincoln Financial Field in Philly, site of the Final Four/Championship Game, en route home.  QFAnthonyProudly, we transition a senior class of families from the active roster to the alumni squad.  Like the Kemps, McDermotts, Rogers, Pfeifers, Beatties, Brennemans, Marlotts, Hopkins, Soscias, Mixs, O’Haras and Nears, these senior families will stay with us. We’ll see them at a game watch, tailgate, football game, business networking event or a lacrosse game. As ND Board of Directors member Jimmy Dunne told the team prior to the Air Force game, Notre Dame is a special place.  The people are exceptional and much is expected.  That’s an opportunity to be leveraged, not wasted.  OSUSeniors

A final thanks to the Norma and Bob Landis and all of those who prepared and joined us in the tailgates. They’re legendary and keep our alums close to the family. A final thanks to Beth and Ed Lubowicki for the tireless efforts in leading Parent Nation. Rob Kelly, John Marchese, Kathy Koshansky and Bobby Arlotta provided wonderful photographs all year.  Rob’s retiring after snapping 25,000 shots over the past five years.  He and Connor will be missed on the field. Photos make the blog.  QFKelly

Thanks for capturing and posting a season in color.  Lastly, my thanks to Tim Brenneman. He created this blog five years ago. It’s evolved with 90,000 hits and generations of Irish nation now following.Parent Nation is already engaged for next season. Looking back over this year, all of us should take great satisfaction in achievements on and off the field. It  was historic. Let’s ensure our ambitious goals don’t blind us from our achievements.  This was a special class, who exited with amazing composure and class. Toast them and get ready for the fall. The future is now.  Go Irish!  Highlights of the game can be seen in the link below.

ND vs Carolina NCAA Quarterfinal Highlights

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Another Run

 

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For the second consecutive week, Notre Dame used a five-goal run in the second quarter to defeat a military academy at Arlotta Stadium, ending their opponent’s season.  Saturday evening, Mikey Wynne led nine different scorers, depositing five goals and grounding Air Force, 15-7.  With the wynne, the Irish advanced to the NCAA Tournament Quarterfinals for the seventh consecutive year while ending a 15-game Air Force winning streak, the nation’s longest.   ND goalie Shane Doss answered when called upon with 11 saves, including eight in the second half.

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Jack Sheridan, Shane Doss and Eddy Glazener shape the Irish Curtain.

Last week, Notre Dame ended their regular season defeating Army at home. They rode a five-goal second quarter, fueled by Ryder Garnsey and Matt Kavanagh, to win 13-7. Saturday, the Irish extended a 4-3 lead to 9-3 against an Air Force defense ranked third nationally.

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A tireless worker, Mikey Wynne contributed six points and two ground balls.

 

Again, Kavanagh got it started with a goal, before Garnsey ripped three in a torrid, five-minute stretch. Brendan Collins contributed a career day with five points, while PJ Finley secured 15/22 (68%) faceoffs and a team-high five ground balls.  ND scored 15 goals on 37 shots (41%), surpassing their season average of 29%.   They’ll need that firepower on Sunday when they battle North Carolina in Columbus, Ohio at noon. It was Carolina who used a seven-goal run last month to erase a five-goal, fourth-quarter deficit, defeating ND to gain a share of the ACC regular season title. Sunday’s rematch will be broadcast on ESPN2 with the winner advancing to the Final Four in Philadelphia.

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PJ Finley provided the offense possessions, the defense a rest.

Saturday’s frigid win is the tenth NCAA Tournament victory for this senior class. They’ve advanced to NCAA Final Fours in each of the past two years and secured a quarterfinal berth their freshmen season. Overall, the senior class has won 45 games, an ACC Conference Tournament Championship (2014) and two regular season ACC Championships (2015, 2016).

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Matt Kavanagh scored once, collected two clever assists.

Gray skies, high winds and 43-degree temperatures greeted parents, alums and guests traveling to South Bend on graduation weekend. Breaking from recent tradition, the Irish lacrosse team was on campus to compete in the NCAA Tournament. In years past, the Irish have been on the road, competing in second round contests. Graduation ceremonies created exclusively for them were facilitated by accomplished athletes and dignitaries, based on where they were playing.  Saturday morning, Coach Kevin Corrigan gathered the team in The                                                                  Eck Visitors Center Auditorium to converse with Jimmy

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ND alum Jimmy Dunne captivated and inspired the team Saturday morning.

Dunne, a Notre Dame graduate and member of The Board of Trustees.  Dunne is Cofounder and Senior Managing Principal of Sandler O’Neill + Partners, LP, A New York-based investment banking firm.  On September 11, 2001, Sandler O’Neill lost 66 of its 171 partners and employees in the World Trade Center attacks, including Herman Sandler and Chris Quackenbush, two of the three executives who ran the firm. Dunne, who had been managing principal with

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Dunne is a frequent speaker and commentator.

responsibility for all aspects of the day-to-day operations, spearheaded the firm’s recovery process and set the tone for its determination to succeed. Dunne is also an accomplished golfer. A member of Augusta National, he is also President of Seminole Golf Club of Juno Beach, Florida. His score of 63 at Shinnecock Hills Golf Course in Long Island, N.Y. remains a record on a course which has hosted the U.S. Open Championship four times.

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Dunne watched the Irish ground the Air Force.

His inspirational words to the 2016 Irish lacrosse team focused on commitment; a sense of desperation with which to live each day; the importance of attitude and a willingness to embrace and leverage humility. The more you learn of Jimmy’s life, the more accomplishments you find and humility he applies.  An example is Jimmy’s failure to reference the $20 million donation he and wife Susan gifted to Notre Dame for the construction of a residence hall on campus. Dunne Hall for men will open this August for the 2016 fall semester.

Following Dunne’s discussion, families frequented Brothers and then Main Street Pub in preparation for Saturday’s game versus Air Force (15-2). This would be the final South Bend tailgate for senior parents. Thanks to Beth Lubowicki and Norma Landis for their coordination.  John Marchese and Rob Kelly furnished the photographs.  It was great to see All-American Nick Ossello in the house, along with Donna and Phil Pfeifer.  AFTailgate!

Bill and Suzy Gray, along with Mike Carter, made the trip from California. While parent nation polished off appetizers and drinks, the finality of the tournament, coupled with Dunne’s words and brisk weather, made for a focused group of parents headed to Arlotta. Duke had already been eliminated. Carolina advanced and awaited.  Jimmy Dunne joined the crowd of 1,017 and a national television audience, courtesy of ESPNU. The lights were on and the temperature was falling.  The parents were bundled, the team prepared. No leprechaun or pep band, just a will to advance against a team enjoying their finest season with aspirations to continue.

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Ryder Garnsey scored three in the second.

Air Force got off the ground first, getting a goal from Chris Allen, the Falcon’s all-time points leader, two and a half minutes in.  The Irish responded. Leveraging a man advantage,  crisp ball movement created a seam for Eddy Lubowicki, who threaded a pass to Mike Wynne on the crease. Wynne finished for the 32nd time this season to square the game at 1-1.

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Garrett Epple collected three ground balls.

Timmy Phillips picked up a ground ball from the ensuing faceoff.  Running like a thoroughbred into the first turn, he eluded those chasing him and shot far post to give the Irish their first lead, 2-1. The Falcons got even before Wynne would catch from Brendan Collins, tucking in his second to put the Irish up 3-2 and finish the quarter. The Irish Curtain of Defense – Matt Landis, Eddy Glazener, Garrett Epple, Jack Sheridan and John Sexton, forced three turnovers and chewed up clock with a smothering defense  that prevented any type of offensive rhythm.  Goalie Shane Doss was forced to make one save for the quarter, three for the first half.

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Timmy Phillips out of the gate, en route to a goal.

Matt Kavanagh’s 19th of the season put the Irish up by two before the Falcon’s returned fire to cut the lead to 4-3 four minutes into the second quarter. Then Garnsey caught fire, setting up Kyle Trolley’s sixth goal, before adding one of his own, his 24th, unassisted. Sergio followed, dodging his defender into a fall, he launched liquid smoke top shelf.

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Kyle Trolley pumped twice before unleashing a rocket far post.

 

Only the replay revealed where it landed. Garnsey followed. He was feeling it. Two side arm slings, where he dropped down to shoot low to high, somehow pinching net under the crossbar with Perkovic-like velocity.  An All-Conference goalie had no chance and in less than a five-minute span, Garnsey scored three to put the Irish up 9-3 with 4:16 left in the first half.  A six-goal lead also kept defensive middies Bobby Collins, Drew Schantz and Austin Gaiss fresh and physical. An Air Force attack averaging 10 goals per game was grounded. Worse, their possessions were prolonged, often restarted, with alleys shut down and dodges discouraged. Pat Healy, and Hugh Crance added depth and quickness. The Falcons connected with 2:26 left in the half to bring the halftime score to 9-4.

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Austin Gaiss split the Falcon defense in leading the transition.

Air Force came struck 90 seconds into the second quarter, prepared to compete. This team had won four games in overtime en route to winning 15 straight. There was no quit in that sideline.  But a minute after climbing to within four, Trevor Brosco cashed in on Brendan Collins’ third assist of the day to put ND up 10-5. Not 30 seconds later, Wynne would strike again, with Kavanagh serving up the assist.  Eddy Lubowicki would score his 8th on a man advantage opportunity before Collins finished a 4-0 third quarter ND run with 2:12 remaining. Four assists and a goal made for a personal best for the sophomore midfielder.  This run would put the game out of reach, with the seniors extending their careers another week.

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ND ended Army and Air Force seasons in consecutive weeks.

Mikey Wynne and Air Force each scored twice in the fourth to close the game out, 15-7. The Irish showed depth, rolling a third midfield line of Brendan Gleason, Pierre Byrne and Anthony Marini. Clever quickness and fresh legs prolonged possessions. John Travisano won 2/4 faceoffs, Carl Walrath joined the attack and Chris Carter grabbed a long pole to provide depth on defense. An accomplished Conor Kelly relieved Shane Doss in goal.  In all, the Irish deployed 30 players, ending the best season in Air Force (15-3) program history. Notre Dame (12-3) advances to a rematch with Carolina, who held on to defeat sixth seeded Marquette 10-9.

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Matt Landis is the lone defender among the five Tewaaraton finalists.

Congratulations to senior Matt Landis, who was selected as one of five finalists for the 2016 Tewaaraton Award, bestowed to the nation’s top male and female college lacrosse player.  Of the five finalists, only Landis and Brown’s Dylan Molloy are still playing in the NCAA Tournament. Landis, a senior from Pelham, New York, is only the fifth defenseman selected as a Top Five finalist. No defenseman has ever won the award. Landis has already been selected as ACC Defensive Player of the Year, for the second consecutive year. The five finalists will attend the 16th annual Tewaaraton Award Ceremony June 2 in Washington, D.C., at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian.  More to come.  See you Sunday.  Go Irish.  Highlights from Saturday are below.

ND versus Air Force Highlights

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See you in Columbus!

 

 

Closing

 

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Ryder Garnsey had six points, including four goals and a Sports Center Top 2 highlight.

 

Notre Dame used  a five-goal, second quarter run to defeat Army West Point 13-7 in the regular season finale Sunday at Arlotta Stadium. Irish attack took center stage with freshman Ryder Garnsey and senior Matt Kavanagh each collecting six points.

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Matt Kavanagh eclipsed 100 career assists with four against Army. He added two goals.

Garnsey scored four times, while  assisting twice.  Kavanagh tallied twice and distributed four clever assists, exceeding 100 for his career. Irish attack scored nine of 13 goals. ND Goalie Shane Doss limited the Black Knights to just three goals, the second time he’s held a team to three this year. Doss posted 10 saves behind the Irish Curtain of Matt Landis, Ed Glazener, Garrett Epple and John Sexton.  A convincing win and needed closure after two consecutive losses. For his efforts, Doss was named ACC Player of the Week for the second time.

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Shane Doss held Army to three goals.

The win earned Notre Dame (10-3) the #3 seed in The NCAA Tournament. The Irish will host Air Force (15-3), who won the Southern Conference Championship. The Falcons have won 15 straight games, including four in overtime.  Their last loss was a one-goal setback versus Denver, February 13.  Face off is Saturday at 7:30 pm at Arlotta Stadium.

Maryland (14-2) collected The Tournament’s  top seed, winning the Big Ten Championship.  Denver edged out Notre Dame for the second seed despite their loss to Marquette  in the Big East Championship. Joining ND in The Tournament from the ACC are  conference champion Syracuse (#8 seed), Duke and North Carolina.  Syracuse will host Albany, while  Duke travels to Loyola (#7) and Carolina visits Marquette (#6).  All games are televised on ESPNU.  First round winners will advance to quarterfinal games at either Brown (Providence, RI) or Ohio State (Columbus, OH). An ND win would pit them against the winner of Carolina vs Marquette in Columbus, home of Judy and Jim Beattie.

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Eddy Lubowicki scored his 7th.

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Mikey Wynne had one goal, two assists.

 

 

 

Overcast clouds gave way to sunshine on Saturday, as parents arrived in South Bend in time to view The Kentucky Derby.  A farewell gathering for the senior parents found its way to The Linebacker, as it did last year. Parents of underclassmen served  senior parents, who showed grace and creativity on the dance floor.  Talent from Maryland, Long Island and New Jersey left an impression. The new music from the 80’s brought unique karaoke talent not previously heard.ArmyKavTrav

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Sunday was a sun-splashed Mother’s Day. Parents gathered at The Ivy for  an early tailgate choreographed by Terry Doss. Bagels, biscuits and fried chicken were chased with mimosas, bloody mary’s, beer and grappa. Parent nation leaders Beth Lubowicki, Norma Landis and Ann Glazener emotionally thanked  fellow senior parents Cameron Riccardi, Melissa Goins, Tricia Brosco, Mary Ann Sheridan, Mary Kavanagh and all of the parents for their generous support. Special thanks to Suzy and Bill Gray, who furnished the coaches with an engraved leather wine traveler for their dedication. A year ago,  Liza and John Near  passed the torch to Beth and Ed Lubowicki. Sunday, the Lubos passed that same torch (stick) and an upgraded version, to Julie and Ben Marini for 2017.  Special thanks to Rob Kelly for Sunday’s game photos.  He, John Marchese and Kathy Koshansky have worked tirelessly all year to capture and post memorable moments from one coast to the next.

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Beth and Ed Lubowicki led parent nation in 2016.

However, there’s a championship to win and this senior-rich team has visions of playing on Memorial Day in Philly. This class has produced a four-season record of 45-17, played in three NCAA Championships (one national runner-up finish, one semifinal appearance and one quarterfinal appearance) and won six postseason games to go with an Atlantic Coast Conference Championship in 2014 and ACC regular-season first-place finishes in 2015 and 2016. The senior class includes Matt Kavanagh, Eddy Lubowicki, Trevor Brosco, Cole Riccardi, Bobby Gray, Kyle Trolley, Matt Landis, Ed Glazener, Jack Sheridan, Adam Goins, Thomas Stephan and graduate students Conor Kelly and Carl Walrath.

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A well-decorated senior class has unfinished business.

The grassy berm at Arlotta was still filling when John Sexton scooped up the opening faceoff.  Ninety seconds later, Trevor Brosco went to net, bouncing a shot into the net to give the Irish a lead they would never relinquish.  Ryder Garnsey would make it 2-0 on ND’s next possession and a leprechaun launching shirts into the crowd began breaking into a sweat. Army responded with a goal before Mikey Wynne and Matt Kavanagh would return fire, ending the first period with a 4-2 ND lead.

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Trevor Brosco got the offense started. He scored twice.

The second period was vintage Kavanagh.  He scored once, assisted three times and on one possession, drew three defenders.  Ryder Garnsey scored twice, with Brendan Collins shooting high to low for a goal in between.  Garnsey was named Atlantic Coast Conference Rookie of the Year earlier in the week. He showed quick hands and agility around the net on both scores.  Garnsey then found Trevor Brosco in stride on the crease, pushing the ND lead to 8-2.  It was Brosco’s sixth of the year. Kav would then finish what he started, streaking to his left, he fired far post with 0:05 left in the quarter to provide the Irish a 9-2 lead at intermission. Credit the defense in giving the Irish offense opportunities. Matt Landis, Ed Glazener, Jack Sheridan and Garrett Epple were a force around Doss.  Bobby Collins, Drew Schantz, John Sexton and Hugh Crance were physical and fast around the perimeter, forcing Army to take shots that Doss saw. Pat Healy dove to to smother a shot at the buzzer. Schantz and Austin Gaiss were speedy but selective in transition.  The Irish successfully cleared 6/7 tries in the first half.

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The Irish Curtain of Defense starts with Matt Landis. He was named ACC Defensive Player of the Year.

Both teams were cautious in the third quarter, with Army scoring three and half minutes in.  Fresh legs countered, with Pierre Byrne going to net without hesitation to score far post for his first goal of the year.

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Pierre Byrne en route to a goal.

Six minutes later, Garnsey finished a productive day, receiving a Mikey Wynne at the crease while spinning around. With his back to the net, he turned his stick, backhanding his fourth goal of the day into an open net in Sports Center Top Ten fashion. ND lacrosse tweeted and many retweeted, with the Irish now leading 11-3 with 4:31 remaining,  Kav would then feed senior Eddy Lubowicki, who caught high, fired low. Grad student Carl Walrath followed, coming from behind the net for his first goal in an  Irish uniform and a 13-3  lead.

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Garrett Epple was disruptive.

Senior Conor Kelly then relieved Shane Doss in goal, with Walrath now paired with Eddy Lubowicki and Anthony Marini at attack. Will Young and Thomas Stephan were now on defense,  with Chris Carter and Nick Stinn roaming midfield. John Travisano finished the face off duty.  Combined with PJ Finley, the duo went 12/24 at the X.  Army would reel off four straight goals to end the game.  With a 13-7 victory, Notre Dame closed out its regular season convincingly.  They’ll take on an Air Force squad they defeated in preseason, but who beat Duke in Durham, Richmond and Bellarmine twice and Detroit.

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First round tailgating details are flowing  to the parents via email.  Campus will be buzzing with graduation weekend and the Irish women’s lacrosse team hosting  NCAA Tournament play as well. Congratulations to the players, coaches, trainers and staff for a 10-win regular season, five All ACC selections, ACC Defensive Player and Rookie of the Year honors and three Tewaaraton Award Top 25 nominees and several Player of the Week Awards. This team was ranked #1 or #2 of 71 most of the year.  It’s now a single elimination affair. Win four games and you’re a champion forever. We start in Arlotta on Saturday.  See you then. Go Irish!

All of the highlights from Sunday’s ND vs Army contest can be seen in the attached.

ND vs Army Highlights