Each year during the first couple of Notre Dame Football
home games, various Irish athletic programs are honored for their athletic
achievement from the previous year. In the first game vs. Texas, the Notre Dame
men's and women's basketball programs were honored for winning their respective
Atlantic Coast Conference tournaments and dancing as far as they did in the
national tournament - Elite Eight for the men and the national championship game
for the women. During the Georgia Tech game, the Notre Dame men's lacrosse team
had its turn, receiving recognition for its latest Final Four run. However, if
you consider the program's involvement in the community as well as the team's
academic success, it is clear the group was being honored for much more than their
The Notre Dame men's lacrosse team had another successful
season in the ACC. Not only did the Irish make it to the 2015 NCAA Final Four,
which marked their second consecutive appearance in the national semifinals, the
team also held an undefeated home record (7-0) and an undefeated conference
record (4-0). The season was highlighted by a shutout, 9-0, victory over the
Ohio State Buckeyes, as well as an overtime thriller to take down the
top-ranked Syracuse Orange by a score of 13-12.
Sergio Perkovic, a junior midfielder this season, led the
team with 34 goals, while attacker Mikey Wynne impressed with 33 goals as a
freshman. Goalie Shane Doss maintained a .546 save percentage with 148 saves
for the season.
In addition to on-field success, the Irish saw just as much
success in the classroom. With eight players named to the ACC All-Academic Team
and 17 players completing high-end internships throughout the summer at companies
such as Whiting-Turner and Morgan Stanley, the men's lacrosse team best
exemplifies the "student" portion of the term of student-athlete.
The Irish also know what it means to give back to the
community. The team was recognized last spring as the ACC/United Way "Game
Changers" for their weekly mentoring program in which they partner with the Dickinson
Fine Arts Academy (DFAA) and teach students critical thinking skills, sportsmanship
and self-motivation through hands-on activities.
The team continued their community involvement on Thursday
as the Irish traveled to Chicago to work with O.W.L.S. Lacrosse for their fourth-annual Playing for Peace youth clinic.
In athletics, academics and service, the Notre Dame men's lacrosse
team has excelled. It is for this reason the team received a roaring round of
applause at the Notre Dame vs. Georgia Tech football game.
Before their introduction on the field, the team took a photo
with the entire Notre Dame student section.
Nick Ossello always dreamed of being a college football player, and the Colorado native was well on his way to becoming one. Earning All-Colorado honors as a quarterback and safety at Wheat Ridge High School, Nick caught the eye of schools like the University of Montana and the Air Force Academy.
But, there was just one problem: he was pretty good at lacrosse, too. So good, in fact, he was sought out by the University of Maryland, one of the premiere lacrosse programs in the nation, and originally planned to play for the Terps.
"I'll never forget when Maryland e-mailed me and said, 'We're interested in you,'" said Nick. "I was like, 'Wow, I've been waiting for this e-mail since I was a little kid.'"
Nick always wanted to play college football over college lacrosse but, the Division I offers for lacrosse were too big to turn down.
And so was Notre Dame.
"Notre Dame just gave the best of both worlds, both academically and athletically," said Nick. "[They have] a top lacrosse program and top academics. So, ultimately, when Coach Corrigan and Coach Byrne reached out to me, pretty much as soon as I set foot here on campus, I couldn't turn it down."
The decision to play lacrosse at Notre Dame paid off for Nick. During his junior year, the Irish made it to the NCAA Championship game and lost to Duke. Last year, Nick's senior year, Notre Dame suffered an overtime loss in the semifinal game to eventual champion Denver. It was a goal from Nick that forced the game into overtime with 9 seconds left in regulation.
"Regardless of how well we were as a program, we had a lot of success and we were working really hard as a team," said Nick. "Those guys are still my best friends to this day and I'll always be appreciative of that experience."
Not only is Nick proud of the program's success but, he is was also happy to be a part of putting lacrosse, and Notre Dame lacrosse specifically, on the map. When #1 Notre Dame beat #2 UNC last year at home in front of a sold out crowd, the students stormed the field in celebration, a rare occurrence for a college lacrosse game.
"One of the coolest things was just to see how much the sport of lacrosse grew from where it was my freshman year to my senior year," said Nick. "Not only to be a part of a great program like Notre Dame, but just to see the sport of lacrosse grow was an unbelievable opportunity that I'll always be appreciative of."
Lacrosse was so promising for Nick that he even got drafted to play professionally for the Denver Outlaws, his home Major League Lacrosse team.
Then, his childhood dream to play college football resurfaced.
"I was talking to my dad and we found this rule in the NCAA where if it's a different sport, the NCAA will give you a fifth year of eligibility," said Nick. "We thought that was kind of neat."
After finding that out, Nick wasn't ready to give up on his childhood dream just yet.
"I started reaching out to some old football coaches that had recruited me," said Nick. "I was looking at Montana and was actually very set on going there. Then, Notre Dame reached out to me."
Notre Dame, the school he had helped put on the map for lacrosse, the school whose football team he had cheered for every Saturday during his time at Notre Dame, the school he was going to earn a degree from, was offering him a shot at living out his childhood dream.
"After the lacrosse season ended, I had a couple of meetings with the [football] coaching staff [at Notre Dame] and just went over the options between Montana and here," said Nick. "Again, it was pretty much impossible to turn down playing football for Notre Dame."
In the spring of 2015, Nick graduated from Notre Dame with a marketing degree. Shortly after, he returned for summer training camp, trading in his lacrosse cleats for football ones.
"Over the summer, I kind of got the gist and the flow of how [college] football works," said Nick. "But, it is a very different sport."
One of those differences, Nick mentioned, is that football involves less running and more contact than lacrosse, something he enjoys but has had to get used to.
"The lacrosse coaches for four years were telling me, 'Don't hit people that hard, you'll get a penalty,'" said Nick. "And now, it's like, 'Nick, go hit that person as hard as you can.' So yeah, I'm trying to forget everything I've learned over the last four years."
On Texas weekend, game day finally arrived for Nick and the rest of the team. The childhood dream of playing college football was now a reality for Nick, and other first-time college players, as they walked into the stadium from the Gug that Saturday afternoon.
"That was, no exaggeration, the coolest moment of my life," said Nick. "I had an extra pair of gloves that I gave to a kid and his whole family thought it was so awesome. Then, running out of the tunnel to the smoke and everybody screaming, that was just something else. I really wish I had the words to describe how it felt and what it meant, but I don't."
Nick is listed as a linebacker on the current roster and while he hasn't seen any minutes on defense yet this season, he has played special teams in two of the first three games.
"That was incredible," said Nick. "It was kind of tough because on one hand, I was like 'Yeah, I'm in the game, I gotta go hit somebody, I gotta do something.' And on the other hand, it's like, 'I have to stay focused on my role so I don't get yelled at during film.' While it was an incredible adrenaline rush and it was awesome running out on the field, I still had to stay focused."
Nick has certainly experienced the best of three different worlds: Notre Dame, lacrosse, and now football. But, it didn't come without hard work and endless determination to live out his dream.
Once the football season is over, Nick hopes to put his Notre Dame degree to use and enter the job market. But, not surprisingly, he remains interested in playing sports just a little bit longer.
"If I had to guess right now, I'd be playing pro lacrosse for at least a couple of years, something to tell the kids about and keep the dream alive of playing sports," said Nick. "My priority right now is finding a good job and getting my career off on the right foot but I also want to end up playing pro lacrosse for a few years."
Whether he plays professionally or not, Nick already has a lot to tell his future kids about. Notre Dame lacrosse player, Notre Dame football player and, most of all, University of Notre Dame graduate.
University of Notre Dame's campus was alive this past weekend. Pep rallies,
tailgates, and fight songs echoed throughout the campus in preparation for the
highly anticipated football season opener between the No. 11 Fighting Irish and
the Longhorns of Texas. Notre Dame rewarded its fans for its cheers with a 38-3
victory. That dominating Irish performance was the culmination of a long
journey of preparation, training, and above all else practice. Another Notre
Dame team started that journey of preparation this weekend.
Dame men's lacrosse team held their first practice on Friday afternoon followed
by their first Blue/Gold Intrasquad scrimmage at noon on Saturday. Last season
the Irish made a second consecutive appearance in the national semifinals
before losing to Denver in an 11-10 overtime thriller to end their season.
weekend was the start to a road sophomore attacker Mikey Wynne and the Irish
hope ends in May with a National Championship. Every year the makeup and look
of the team changes and with that the coaching staff uses these fall practices
as an instructional period to teach them the language, the pace and the style
at which they will play this upcoming spring.
"We did lose
some good players from last year and need to work hard to become a solid team
this year," said Wynne. "With that being said, all the guys on the team get
along so well it's easy to pick up right where we left off last season."
really was an instructional period. Not only did the coaching come from Coach
Corrigan and the rest of the coaching staff, but it also came from the upper
leaders like Jim Marlatt, Jack Near, Nick Ossello, and Conor Doyle graduating,
Wynne believes this roster still has all the necessary leadership needed to be
everyone on the team is a leader in some sort of way... From starters to scout
team players, everyone has a responsibility," Wynne said. "I would love to help
step up and assist the younger guys when they need guidance."
Seen here, upperclass
defensemen Garrett Epple and Thomas Stephen help freshman Charlie Trense get
his footwork and stick handling skills down with this defensive drill.
have 12 new freshmen on the roster at the moment. Of those freshmen, three of
them were named Under Armour All-Americans. This incoming class has a lot of
talent and that talent was put on display on Saturday during the Blue/Gold
scrimmage had to be delayed an hour due to thunder storms in the area, the
Irish "shook down the thunder" (Notre Dame Fight Song shout out!) and played
midfielder Brendan Collins had an "ESPN Top 10"-worthy play in the scrimmage
when he juked out two defenders on his way to a goal for the Gold squad. Meanwhile,
freshman UA All-American Timmy Phillips impressed when he sprinted down the
field with a man on him and rocketed one in for a goal.
midfielder Sergio Perkovic performed well as always with two goals in the
Michael Langdon, Alex Hurdle, and William Young frustrated the Blue squad in
the first 25 minutes of the scrimmage. They crowded the middle of the field,
fielded ground balls well and just overall played a good, physical game
Wynne, he was really impressed with freshman midfielder Drew Schantz over the
weekend. "I really think he [Schantz] is a very athletic and smart lacrosse
player. That class has a lot of talent but Schantz was the one who stuck out
the most to me."
moment there are four goalies on the roster for the Fighting Irish. Upperclassmen
keepers Conor Kelly and Shane Doss performed at a high level and Michael
Marchese stepped up and made some big saves during the scrimmage.
was the freshman from Basking Ridge, New Jersey that really stood out to me.
Owen Molloy has great stick work in the crease, displayed super quick hands and
never got fazed while he was out there competing. As the biggest goalie the
Irish have on the roster weighing in at 182 lbs and standing 6'0'' tall, it
would not surprise me if we hear more about No. 54 as the season approaches.
everyone on both the Blue and the Gold squads played well on Saturday during
the Intrasquad scrimmage. They passed the ball well, were in the right position
to get good shots on goal, were physical on defense and, above all else,
communicated well all over the field. The Irish will continue to train, improve,
and, most importantly, gel as a cohesive unit long through the offseason months
of the fall and winter and into the 2016 season.
While our student-athletes have been working hard in preparation for the start of the fall season, we've also made a few improvements in anticipation of the new school year.
From this point forward, Irish UNDerground will be utilizing the Wordpress platform powered by NBC Sports.
Here's a look at our three new blog websites:
UNDerground: Notre Dame Athletics
Strong and True: Notre Dame Football
Irish United: Notre Dame Men's and Women's Soccer
Go ahead and bookmark these now. With features, videos, photos, commentaries and news from inside the athletic department, we are committed to bringing you coverage of Notre Dame athletics unlike any you can find elsewhere.
Get ready. 2012-13 is going to be an exciting year to be Irish.
Day two is in the books... and game time is less than 14 hours away. After arriving in Massachusetts on Thursday, the Irish moved one day closer to their NCAA semifinal matchup with #1 Loyola.
On Friday morning, John Kemp, Kevin Randall and Sean Rogers accompanied Coach Kevin Corrigan on an early trip to Gillette Stadium, taking part in a video shoot and talking with ESPN's producer and commentators in preparation for tomorrow's broadcast.
Afterwards, the rest of team and coaching staff arrived at the stadium and spent a few minutes soaking it all in down on the field where Tom Brady & Co. play on Sundays.
The Irish headed back to their locker room, normally used by the visiting MLS team (Gillette Stadium is also home to the New England Revolution) to prepare for practice. They had about an hour on the field - stretching, running through some drills, and finishing up with a team favorite game - Eliminator.
Following practice, the Irish went to nearby Patriot Place, the shopping, dining and entertainment center adjacent to the stadium. The team hit up Tavolino's for box lunches, enjoying a variety of sandwiches, from crab cake to chicken parm.
From there, it was back to the hotel to relax for a bit, before heading to a team dinner in north Boston, and then returning to the hotel for a final film session focused on Loyola.
Saturday's game begins at 2:30 pm ET and will be broadcast on ESPN2/ESPN3, featuring the broadcast team of Eamon McAnaney ('91), Quint Kessenich and
Remember to like the Irish on Facebook and follow @NDlacrosse, @byrneirish and @fishtastik on Twitter for the latest as the Notre Dame men's lacrosse team goes after its first national championship.
- Josh Flynt ('11)
For the third time in its history, the Notre Dame men's lacrosse team is playing on Memorial Day weekend. With last Sunday's 12-10 victory over the defending champs and fifth-seeded Virginia Cavaliers, the Irish earned a spot in the 2012 NCAA semifinals - along with Loyola (Md.), Duke and Maryland.
The Irish left from South Bend Regional Airport earlier this afternoon, chartering a flight that included the team, training staff, Fighting Irish Digital Media and media relations crews, coaches and their families.
A clear day in South Bend was traded for a few clouds in Bedford, Mass., but nevertheless, a very nice spring day in New England. From the airport, it was off to Gillette Stadium for an NCAA banquet recognizing the four championship hopeful teams. A few of the Irish players were also part of a video shoot capturing footage to be used on the stadium's video board throughout the weekend.
The barbecue style dinner included chicken, brisket and pulled pork, as well as green beans, corn, salad, among other foods. For dessert, it was apple cobbler and vanilla ice cream. I'm really not sure we could have asked for a more American menu as we approach this Memorial Day weekend.
New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels was the keynote speaker and ESPN sportscaster Quint Kessenich emceed the event. McDaniels spoke about his experiences in the Super Bowl, explaining that winning championships is about the feeling players and coaches are able to enjoy on the field after the game, not the accolades, trophies and rings that accompany such victories.
Irish sophomore midfielder Ty Brenneman received the NCAA Elite 89 Award, recognizing his 3.782 GPA as a political science and economics major.
Traffic was a little crazy, but I suppose that should come as no surprise, being that it's the start of a holiday weekend. Tomorrow, the Irish head back to Gillette for a team walkthrough and a few ESPN interviews.
As the Irish inch closer to game day, stay tuned to Facebook.com/NDLacrosse (there are already many photos from today posted) and be sure to follow @ndlacrosse, @byrneirish and @fishtastik on Twitter for all the updates from Beantown.
- Josh Flynt ('11)
For the second time in three years, the Notre Dame men's lacrosse team has earned a spot in the national semifinals. In a game full of momentum swings, the Fighting Irish notched an exciting, 12-10 win over #5 Virginia in the NCAA quarterfinals on Sunday afternoon at PPL Park.
Leading the way offensively was senior Max Pfeifer, who netted three goals and added one assist. Steve Murphy contributed a pair of scores, as well as two assists, while Sean Rogers also notched two goals.
Notre Dame scored six goals in the final period, including one by Ryan Foley that put the Irish ahead for good. After three more scores gave them a 12-8 lead, the Irish survived two late Cavalier goals to pick up the victory.
As Notre Dame athletics so often do, the game created a lot of buzz on Twitter. Here are a few of the many tweets from this afternoon:
Congrats to ND men's Lax, beat Virg. To make it to national semi's next week
Notre Dame joins Loyola (Md.), Maryland and the winner of Duke vs. Colgate in the national semifinals, to be played on Saturday, May 26 at Gillette Stadium (the home of the New England Patriots) in Foxborough, Mass.
There will be much more coverage coming soon, so be sure to follow @NDlacrosse on Twitter, 'like' the Irish on Facebook, and stay tuned to UND.com.
- Josh Flynt ('11)
I'm no lacrosse expert, but after thirty minutes of play, I think one's going to come down to the wire at PPL Park in Philadelphia.
#4 Notre Dame jumped out to a 3-1 lead in its NCAA quarterfinal matchup with #5 Virginia, before the Cavaliers responded with three straight goals. Virginia looked ready to take a 5-3 lead, but a goal was disallowed after a crease violation. A lot can happen in the second half, but if the Irish lead holds up, that may very well turn out to be the turning point in the contest.
The Irish quickly responded with a goal of their own, tying the game at four and taking back momentum. They scored two additional goals in the second quarter to take a 6-4 halftime lead.
First half goal scorers included Max Pfeifer (twice), Conor Doyle, Westy Hopkins, Sean Rogers and Steve Murphy. Pfeifer, Murphy, Jim Marlatt, and Tyler Kimball also added assists on three of those scores.
If you can't catch the rest of the game on ESPNU/ESPN3, make sure to follow all the tweets at @NDlacrosse. Should be a great second half.
- Josh Flynt ('11)
It was a busy second day for the Irish in Philadelphia. After breakfast at the team hotel, the team headed out to PPL Park, the home of the MLS's Philadelphia Union and the site of tomorrow's NCAA quarterfinal game against Virginia.
The Irish spent about an hour on the field, stretching, going through a few drills, and talking strategy for their upcoming game against the fifth-seeded Cavaliers.
After the walkthrough, the players signed autographs for those in attendance, including many young fans who had just finished a youth clinic outside the stadium.
The Irish returned to the locker room, grabbed lunch and showered, before it was off to Malvern Prep, an Augustinian Catholic school in nearby Malvern, Penn. Since they have often been on the road during commencement weekend, the Irish began a tradition of holding their own ceremony to honor the team' seniors over the past several years.
This year, twelve seniors graduated at the Our Lady of Good Counsel Chapel on the Malvern Prep campus. Rev. James R. Flynn, O.S.A., the Head of School, said Mass, with the help of three Malvern students (and future Domers) who served as altar servers and lectors.
The twelve Notre Dame lacrosse student-athletes in the class of 2012 include: Ben Ashenburg, Nick Beattie, Jake Brems, Devon Dobson, Andrew Gleason, Eric Keppeler, Max Pfeifer, Colt Power, Kevin Randall, Michael Rogers, Sean Rogers and Bobby Smith.
At the end of Mass, head coach Kevin Corrigan said a few words and introduced John Delaney ('78), a Philadelphia assistant district attorney and the president of the Notre Dame Alumni Association, to give the commencement address.
Delaney spoke about four characteristics of the university - faith, vision, passion and family. He talked about Father Sorin's vision in founding Notre Dame, as well as the lifelong familial bond that the graduating Irish will not only have with their teammates, but with the university.
The Irish also got a visit from Gene Corrigan, father of head coach Kevin Corrigan, a former Virginia lacrosse coach and the Notre Dame athletic director from 1981-87 (among many other accomplishments). Gene talked about all the senior class had accomplished over four years, and offered words of encouragement as they seek to finish off great careers by hopefully earning three more wins, beginning Sunday against the team he once called his own.
To conclude the ceremony, Philip Pfeifer, a professor at Virginia's Darden School of Business and the father of Irish senior Max Pfeifer, officially declared the Irish seniors graduates of the University of Notre Dame. Professor Pfeifer served as a visiting professor in South Bend during this past year. Since the university's undergraduate ceremonies will be held tomorrow, the twelve Irish lacrosse student-athletes became a few of the first official graduates in the class of 2012.
I had a chance to speak with Fr. Flynn after Mass and he was incredibly grateful to have been a part of Notre Dame's ceremony today, calling it a great honor for Malvern Prep to be associated with such a fine university. From my own perspective, I really thought the graduation was a nice way of recognizing the hard work and accomplishments - academically and athletically - of these young men over the past four years.
It's too bad that they cannot participate in the regular commencement with the rest of their graduating class, but it's a double-edged sword. The fact that the Irish are missing graduation is a good thing - it means their season is still going on and their title hopes are still alive. Besides, it was an intimate celebration with the people with whom they are closest - their families and lacrosse brothers.
Max Pfeifer, Sean Rogers, Ben Ashenburg and Bobby Smith - four of the first graduates in the class of 2012.
After parents had taken plenty of team graduation photos, the Irish left for downtown Philadelphia and a nice dinner at Maggiano's Little Italy. On the bus, we caught the end of the Spurs-Clippers game, before popping in 'Casino Royale' while stuck in traffic. When we arrived at the restaurant we were greeted with a nice family-style meal in one of the banquet rooms. I'm not sure I've ever seen spaghetti, chicken parm, salad and bread disappear as quickly as it did tonight. In and out - twenty minutes max.
From there, it was back to the hotel, where the Irish got in a final film session on Virginia. It's an early wake up call on Sunday. After Maryland and Loyola (Md.) punched their tickets to Foxborough, Mass. on Saturday, Notre Dame will look to become the third team with a spot in the Final Four. The game begins at noon ET and will be broadcast live on ESPNU/ESPN3. Remember to follow @NDlacrosse on Twitter for more photos and in-game during the rest of the trip.
- Josh Flynt ('11)
The Notre Dame men's lacrosse team left this afternoon for the City of Brotherly Love, in preparation for its NCAA quarterfinal matchup on Sunday. The fourth-seeded Fighting Irish traveled in style, chartering a flight from the South Bend Regional Airport.
After traveling with football and men's basketball previously, this is my first trip with the lacrosse team. I occasionally covered the Irish for UNDerground during the season, but this is my first experience spending much time around the team and coaches. As intense and focused as they are on the field, they do not take themselves too seriously away from it (just wait until you see some of the defensive players' postseason haircuts).
They're a fun bunch to be around and you can really tell that the lacrosse team is like one big family. Though I suppose that should come as no surprise, having a head coach who has led the program for almost a quarter-century.
Upon arrival at the hotel, the Irish grabbed dinner, before watching film of Sunday's opponent, Virginia, the defending NCAA champion.
It's a city famous for cheesesteaks, but Notre Dame opted for pasta, roast beef, stuffing, potatoes and green beans, among a variety of other delicious dishes this evening.
Tomorrow, it's off to PPL Park for a walkthrough and autograph session. As you may know, it's commencement weekend at the University of Notre Dame. Since the Irish are generally on the road in NCAA tournament play, they have established their own graduation tradition. This year, they'll visit Malvern Prep for a special Mass and ceremony honoring the team's seniors, before a team dinner and more game film.
For head coach Kevin Corrigan, Sunday will go beyond trying to take his team back to the Final Four. The longtime Irish head coach will also be leading his squad against his alma mater, Virginia, where he played and later served as an assistant coach.
Much more coming throughout the weekend - Be sure to follow @NDlacrosse, @NDSportsBlogger, @byrneirish (assistant coach Gerry Byrne) and @fishtastik (assistant coach Brian Fisher) on Twitter, and 'like' the Irish on Facebook for all the updates from Philly.
Catch the game Sunday at noon ET on ESPNU/ESPN3.
- Josh Flynt ('11)