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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
in 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!