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Randall Up For Lowe's Senior CLASS Award

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Once again, a Notre Dame athlete has found himself one of the 10 finalists for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award.

After women's basketball player Natalie Novosel and hockey player Sean Lorenz were named finalists earlier this year, Kevin Randall has earned a spot on the list of lacrosse nominees for the prestigious award as well.

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The Lowe's Senior CLASS Award - an acronym for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School - recognizes seniors for their loyalty to their schools, as well as excellence with regard to community, classroom, character and competition.

Randall has accumulated a 3.542 grade-point average while pursuing a civil engineering degree. Along with captaining the Irish defense, the senior also spends his time volunteering at the Perley Fine Arts Academy.

"I don't get a lot of sleep, which is the first thing," Randall says in explaining his workload. "At Notre Dame it's about so much more than just being a lacrosse player. It's also about the education you can receive and the influence Notre Dame has throughout the nation, and specifically this community.

"It's something that drew me here."

In his four years at Notre Dame, Randall has developed into one of the leaders of the fifth-ranked Irish. In his first couple years with the team, he was able to learn from upperclassmen who shaped his own progression as a leader.

"There have always been guys that have been great players and also great role models and teachers on the field. So I've had the good fortune of playing with those guys," says Randall. "And also Coach (Gerry) Byrne has been one of the best assistant coaches in college lacrosse, so I've had the benefit of playing for him and learning from him."

Randall will learn if he is the winner of the award at the Division I finals, which will be held May 26 and 28. It will be all the more satisfying if the Irish are playing on that last day of the postseason, though.

"Interestingly enough, we don't set a team goal of winning a national championship," Randall says. "We think that if we work hard every day and improve every day, that will take us where we need to be. "

The winner of the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award is decided through voting by fans, coaches and the media. Fans are encouraged to vote at seniorclassaward.com/lacrosse.

- Craig Chval ('15)

A Perfect Sunday Afternoon

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What a day to be a Notre Dame athletics fan.

It started at 1:00 pm with another great crowd on hand at Arlotta Stadium, as the #6 men's lacrosse team opened up BIG EAST play against Rutgers. The Fighting Irish got four goals from Sean Rogers, two from Jim Marlatt and one apiece from six other scorers to win their fifth game in a row and improve to 6-1 overall.

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At the same time the laxers were locked in a close one at Arlotta, the Irish squad on the diamond had a tough BIG EAST game at nearby Frank Eck Stadium. It took seven different pitchers, but the Notre Dame baseball team also won its fifth in a row, closing out a three-game sweep of Pittsburgh with a 7-5 win.

Notre Dame held a 4-3 lead going into the bottom of the eighth, but had managed just three hits through the first seven innings. Catcher Joe Hudson extended the lead to 7-3 with what turned out to be a crucial three-run double, as the Panthers were able to plate a pair of runs in the final frame.

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Freshman Pat Connaughton picked up his first career victory, pitching 2.2 innings in relief, while Dan Slania came on for the final out, striking out Casey Roche to record his sixth save of the season.

The NCAA women's basketball tournament continued at 2:30 pm in Raleigh, N.C., as head coach Muffet McGraw's team took on St. Bonaventure in the Sweet Sixteen. After a dominant 79-35 win against the Bonnies, it's now "3 down, 3 to go" in the quest for a national championship.

Natalie Novosel had 16 points, Kayla McBride scored 10, and Kaila Turner added 14 off the bench to lead a balanced offensive attack. The Irish take on Maryland on Tuesday as they seek to earn a spot in the Final Four for the second year in a row.

Perfect spring weather in South Bend and three big wins from Notre Dame lacrosse, baseball and women's basketball. All in all, a great Sunday afternoon for the Fighting Irish.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Live Blog: Men's Lacrosse vs. Rutgers

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Sixth-ranked Notre Dame returns to Arlotta Stadium today at 1:00 pm ET when it takes on Rutgers in the first BIG EAST conference game of the year.

The game will be broadcast on UND.com, but Irish UNDerground will also have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout today's game too. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation, as the Fighting Irish look to improve to 7-0 in the young season.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

Following Flynt - Irish Lose Tough One at Arlotta

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It was a low-scoring affair on Sunday afternoon at Arlotta Stadium as the second-ranked Notre Dame men's lacrosse team fell to #20 Penn State, 4-3 in overtime.

The Irish struck early, when sophomore Westy Hopkins found junior Quinn Cully just over three minutes into the game for the first goal of the afternoon. Notre Dame extended its lead in the second quarter, when junior Ryan Foley scored his first of two goals.

Penn State fought back to tie it before the half, and the teams played through a scoreless third quarter until the Nittany Lions took a 3-2 lead midway through the final frame.

Foley netted a second score with 3:31 to play, tying the score and firing up the crowd on a blustery day in South Bend.

Neither team scored in the final minutes of regulation and the game headed into sudden-death overtime. It looked like a second extra period might be needed, but the Nittany Lions' Matthew Mackrides wrapped a shot around the left side of the goal with just two seconds left on the clock.

His second score of the game sealed the upset and dropped Notre Dame to 1-1 in the young season. The Irish loss snaps the program's 15-game February winning streak. Prior to this afternoon, Notre Dame had not lost in the month since 2002, when they dropped a 10-9 overtime game to, interestingly enough, Penn State.

Notre Dame will hit the road for a pair of games at Drexel and Hofstra, before returning home on Mar. 18 against Denver. That game begins at 1:00 pm ET and will be broadcast on ESPNU.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Live Blog: Men's Lacrosse vs. Penn State

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Second-ranked Notre Dame returns to the field today at 1:00 pm ET when it takes on #20 Penn State at Arlotta Stadium.

The game will be broadcast on UND.com, but Irish UNDerground will also have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout today's game too. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation, as the Fighting Irish look to improve to 2-0 in the young season.

Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem.

Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.

This Is How You Build a Program

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Following Flynt - Good Weekend to Be Irish

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With the winter sports wrapping up and the spring seasons getting underway, it was a good weekend for the Notre Dame athletic department, as several programs picked up big wins and two captured BIG EAST championships. Here's a quick look at some of this weekend's top performances:

Baseball opened the season in Florida, winning its first two games in the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge. On Friday, the Irish won a 13-12 slugfest against Illinois, led by junior catcher Joe Hudson's 3-for-4, two home run, four RBI afternoon. Saturday was a different story, as junior Adam Norton went the distance on the mound. The righty held Iowa to just two runs over nine innings to register his first complete game victory.

The ninth-ranked men's lacrosse team kicked off Saturday afternoon with a 7-3 upset of #2 Duke. After falling behind 2-0, head coach Kevin Corrigan's squad scored seven straight goals to win its tenth straight season-opener. Senior midfielder Max Pfeifer and sophomore midfielder Jim Marlatt led the Fighting Irish with two goals apiece.

In the pool, the men's swimming & diving team earned its fifth BIG EAST title. The Irish totaled 887 points, topping two-time defending champion Louisville (859.5) and host school Pittsburgh (520). Junior Bill Bass was named the meet's Most Outstanding Swimmer, and head coach Tim Welsh was named Swimming Coach of the Year. Last week, freshman Nick Nemetz was named Diver of the Year and Caiming Xie was selected as Diving Coach of the Year, so Saturday's awards gave Notre Dame a sweep of the conference postseason trophies.

At about 10 pm ET on Saturday, it looked like the men's basketball team's seven-game winning streak was destined to end in Philadelphia. Head coach Mike Brey's Fighting Irish trailed Villanova by 16 points at halftime, but the Irish rallied, thanks in part to Pat Connaughton's big night behind the arc. The freshman knocked down seven three-pointers, leading the improbable comeback and 74-70 overtime win to keep the winning streak alive.

The women's lacrosse team kicked off a new era on Sunday afternoon with a 17-14 victory over Stanford. Sophomore Lindsay Powell netted five goals, while junior Jaimie Morrison chipped in four and senior tri-captain Maggie Tamasitis tallied six assists, to lift new head coach Christine Halfpenny to a win in her first game with the Irish.

In the Big Apple, the men's track & field team hoisted its fifth BIG EAST Championship trophy, totaling 131 points at New Balance Track & Field Center at The Armory, to hold off second-place Connecticut (103 points). The Irish were led by Kevin Schipper's third consecutive BIG EAST Indoor pole vault title, and Patrick Feeney (400m) and Jeremy Rae's (Mile) victories on the track.

The fourth-ranked women's basketball team will look to finish off a strong weekend for the Notre Dame athletic program at 2 pm ET this afternoon on ESPN against #16 Louisville.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Live Blog: Men's Lacrosse vs. Duke (Final)

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Final: After falling behind 2-0, Notre Dame got seven straight goals from five different scorers to win its season opener against #2 Duke, 7-3. Max Pfeifer and Jim Marlatt scored two goals apiece to fuel the Fighting Irish, but it was an impressive defensive performance that contributed to the upset.

The victory makes it 15 straight in February for Notre Dame, who has not lost in the month since a 10-9 setback against Penn State in 2002.

It's certainly a great way to start the season for the ninth-ranked Fighting Irish, but they have to be a bit concerned by injuries to senior tri-captain Nicholas Beattie and sophomore midfielder Liam O'Connor.

Notre Dame will be back in action next Sunday at 1:00 pm ET vs. Penn State. With any luck, that game will also be played in Arlotta Stadium, but South Bend winters can quickly change.

We'll be back tomorrow at noon ET for the women's opener against Stanford. You can follow along here on Irish UNDerground and catch the live stream only at UND.com.

4th Quarter: As we start the fourth quarter, it's an announced attendance of 2,053 - a great crowd here in the season opener. Duke's junior midfielder Jake Tripucka - son of Notre Dame basketball great, Kelly Tripucka ('81) - made a couple of shots at the Irish goal, but could not cut the deficit for the Blue Devils.

With 5:59 left in the game, Jim Marlatt scored his second goal of the game (assisted by Ryan Foley) - making it a 6-2 game in favor of Notre Dame.

Sophomore Liam O'Connor went down after a helmet-to-helmet collision with a Duke player, leaving the game with 4:25 left.

Senior midfielder Max Pfeifer put the icing on the cake for Notre Dame with 1:05 to play. Scoring his second goal of the game and sealing the Irish victory.

CJ Costabile scored with 17 seconds left, but it was too little, too late for Duke.

3rd Quarter: Duke had several chances early in the quarter, but Notre Dame stayed in control - holding onto its two goal lead, before Max Pfeifer connected on another Irish score, making it 5-2 with 5:10 to play in the third.

After a Duke turnover, Notre Dame took it the other way, looking for the last shot of the quarter, but the Irish also turned the ball over. Still, after five unanswered goals, it's a 5-2 advantage for Coach Corrigan's squad as we head to the fourth quarter.

2nd Quarter: The Irish controlled the second quarter face-off and got a quick shot on goal, but Wigrizer made another save for Duke.

After assisting the lone goal in the first period, Jordan Wolf connected on an unassisted shot with 10:42 to play in the half, giving the Blue Devils a 2-0 lead.

Notre Dame cut the deficit to 2-1 just over a minute later when tri-captain Nicholas Beattie scored the first goal of the season, but the Irish lost the senior to an apparent knee injury on the play.

Duke had multiple chances in the second quarter, but could not extend the lead. Sophomore Westy Hopkins tied the game for Notre Dame with just under four minutes to play in the half. His goal was assisted by senior tri-captain Max Pfeifer.

Less than forty seconds later, Ryan Mix struck for Notre Dame, while Jim Marlatt scored another Irish goal with 2:15 to play in the half. After being kept in check by Duke goalie Dan Wigrizer for much of the game, the Notre Dame offense seemed to figure things out late in the second quarter - scoring three goals in less than two minutes to take a 4-2 halftime lead.

1st Quarter: This is my fifth winter in South Bend, and for Feb. 18, this weather is nothing short of spectacular. It's Junior Parents Weekend and there's a great crowd on hand this afternoon.

Duke won the opening face-off and the Blue Devils' offense controlled the game for nearly three minutes, before getting a goal at the 12:14 mark, as Josh Dionne struck on an assist from Jordan Wolf.

Notre Dame's offense - like a football team with a great running game - controlled the ball for much of the quarter. Despite several good looks at the goal, the Irish could not get it past goalie Dan Wigrizer, who made seven saves. At the end of the first, the Blue Devils lead, 1-0.

Pregame: Only about 15 minutes until the 2012 lacrosse season kicks off for head coach Kevin Corrigan's ninth-ranked Notre Dame squad. The Fighting Irish will take on #2 Duke, the team that ended their playoff run in each of the past two seasons. In 2010, the Blue Devils won their first national title, defeating the Irish 6-5 in overtime at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md. Last year, the teams met in the NCAA quarterfinals - Duke won 7-5.

It feels more like football season than mid-February this afternoon, and thanks to some great weather, the Irish will be opening the season in Arlotta Stadium, rather than the Loftus Sports Center, the usual location of these early season contests.

It's Duke's first trip to South Bend, and it should be a good one this afternoon. Catch it beginning at 1 pm ET on ESPN3/ESPNU.

- Josh Flynt ('11)

Following Flynt - Irish, Blue Devils Renew Rivalry

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On Saturday, the #9 Notre Dame men's lacrosse team will kick off its season against the second-ranked Duke Blue Devils at Arlotta Stadium. The game begins at 1 pm ET and it will be broadcast on ESPNU/ESPN3. Thanks to some unseasonably nice weather (read: lack of snow), the Fighting Irish will get a chance to play in their state-of-the-art outdoor stadium, rather than the Loftus Sports Center, the usual location of early season contests.

This will be the 10th meeting between the Fighting Irish and the Blue Devils, a series Duke leads, 6-3. With both programs perennially considered among the nation's best, it has become one of college lacrosse's newest and most exciting rivalries. The 2012 campaign marks the third straight year in which Notre Dame opens its season against Duke, and it will be their fifth meeting since the start of 2010.

Two years ago, head coach Kevin Corrigan's team won 11-7 in Durham, N.C., while last season, they downed the Blue Devils, 12-7 in the 2011 Sunshine Classic in Jacksonville, Fla. Unfortunately for the Irish however, the recent story has been much different in the postseason.

The 2010 national championship at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md. was one of the most thrilling college lacrosse games in recent years, a matchup between two programs seeking their first national title. A low-scoring contest, Notre Dame and Duke were tied at five at the end of regulation, before the Blue Devils' C.J. Costabile broke the hearts of Irish lacrosse fans everywhere. The sophomore won the opening overtime face-off, sprinted down field and scored the title-clinching goal, just five seconds into the extra period.

Last season, Duke and Notre Dame met in the NCAA quarterfinals at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. Once again the Blue Devils had the Irish's number, winning 7-5 and advancing to play Maryland.

When Notre Dame takes the field this weekend, it will look to continue its history of success in early season games. The Irish are 24-7 all-time in season-openers and have won 14 straight games in February.

At the end of the day however, Saturday is just one game in a long season - a season that Coach Corrigan and his players hope culminates in a Memorial Day victory celebration.

- Josh Flynt ('11)
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Follow Asst. Coach Gerry Byrne on Twitter:
@byrneirish First practice at Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.

Fighting Irish Digital Media intern Josh Flynt ('11) continues to provide the inside scoop on the Notre Dame athletic programs. He recently sat down with men's lacrosse coach Kevin Corrigan to talk about the upcoming season and the team's trip to Florida.

Though it might not feel like it on campus, it's almost springtime - at least if you look at Notre Dame's upcoming sports schedule. With baseball and softball set to begin in three weeks in Florida and California, respectively, the men's lacrosse team kicks off its season this weekend with a trip to Orlando. The Irish will participate in the 2012 Champion Challenge at ESPN's Wide World of Sports Complex where they will play a pair of exhibition games against Jacksonville and the U.S. National Team.

The Orlando weather report looks good, with temperatures in the 70's this weekend, but don't be fooled into thinking Notre Dame has headed south for anything but business. "This is a 100% work trip. We're going to practice twice per day on Friday and Saturday. We're going to scrimmage two times and we're going to get a lot of good concentrated work, which I think is exactly what we need at this point in the season," head coach Kevin Corrigan says.

That being said, the Irish are less concerned with the outcome and more focused on preparing for Feb. 18 and their season opener against #2 Duke, the team that has ended their postseason run in each of the past two years - overtime of the 2010 national championship, and more recently, in last season's quarterfinals.

"We're still at the stage where we're just trying to get better. That's all we're trying to do. What I'm concerned about right now is the quality of the work that we do and not about any results that we get on a day-to-day basis," Corrigan says.

Looking ahead to the season for his ninth-ranked Irish squad, Corrigan keeps it simple. "We don't set goals. Because to me, I guess I just work backwards off the premise that there's never been a game that I ever played in that the object wasn't to win. So, I don't know why you need goals if every time you play, you're doing everything you can conceivably do to win."

Instead, the Irish are focused on making each day as productive as possible, recognizing that wins, conference titles and championships are the outcome of focusing on the process, not on the results.

"To me, the only goal that I have is for us to work every day with a sense of purpose and urgency to become the best team that we can be."

Just two weeks into preseason play, Coach Corrigan plans to use these scrimmages to focus on the little things that will help prepare the squad for regular season play. "We have to figure out who the best guys are to put on the wings on our face-offs. We have to figure out the most effective grouping of our midfielders. We've got a bunch of good defensive midfielders and we've got to figure out how most effectively we can use them in game situations," he says.

When the Irish play on Saturday, they may recognize a familiar face in goal, as former All-America goalie Scott Rodgers ('10) will be suiting up for the U.S. National Team for the second consecutive year. "It makes it fun and certainly challenging for our guys. We all know how good Scott is, but I think we both had fun last year," Corrigan says.

"Getting on each other, and pushing each other and challenging each other. It's not a lot different than being teammates, when you're playing kind of what they might call a 'friendly' in soccer. It's a competitive game, but there's nothing at stake, so I think our guys will enjoy being down there with Scott."

While Rodgers' lacrosse career has continued even after graduating from Notre Dame, several other Irish laxers may also get a chance to continue playing. Seven former players were selected in December's Major League Lacrosse Supplemental Draft and senior defenseman Kevin Randall was picked by the Charlotte Hounds in the seventh round of this month's MLL Collegiate Draft.

Although Coach Corrigan and his staff are happy to see their former players getting a chance to continue their lacrosse careers after college, it's not something they spend much time focused on.

"We're concerned with their experience that they're having here at Notre Dame. I'm glad to see them get the respect that they deserve, when it comes to playing at the next level or being selected to play at the next level," he says.

The 2012 season will be a unique one for Corrigan, as his son, Will, a midfielder and graduate of Saint Joseph's High School, is among the 10 freshmen on the team.

"Will and I have a great relationship and it's only growing through this experience...He's my son. I love him. I love being with him and I love having him as part of our team. He and I have always kind of had a relationship around the game because he grew up watching our team as a little kid, and certainly there's an emotional involvement with the team when you're the son of a coach," Corrigan says.

After the Orlando trip, the Irish will have one more exhibition contest on Feb. 5 against Robert Morris before opening the season at 1 pm ET on Feb. 18 vs. Duke in a nationally televised game on ESPNU.

Playing against a team of Duke's caliber is a challenge that Corrigan and his team look forward to, as they do each season. "First of all, there's nothing more important in terms of achieving the highest level you can reach as a team, than good competition," he says.

"So playing a team like that is only going to help us. And when it comes to getting in the tournament at the end of the year and getting a seeding in the tournament, playing top teams is an essential thing."

The Irish regularly play a difficult schedule, and Corrigan says that if he would schedule all of his games against the best teams in the country, if it were possible.

"Logistically it doesn't always work out that way with league obligations and everything else, but we're not afraid of that challenge. We actually look forward to that and are building on that."

Now in his 24th season in South Bend, Corrigan never envisioned spending more than two decades with the Irish. A Charlottesville, Va. native, Corrigan stayed close to home and played college lacrosse at the University of Virginia. Later, he returned to UVA and worked as an assistant coach for two seasons under Jim "Ace" Adams. Between 24 years in Charlottesville and 24 at Notre Dame, Corrigan, 53, laughed at the fact that he has spent most of his life in two places. Still, he couldn't imagine a better opportunity than the one he has here at Notre Dame.

"It's been a terrific place to coach. It's a great place to live and raise a family. I've been really fortunate to be around the great people that Notre Dame attracts," he says. "And the great kids that I've had an opportunity to coach make it awfully hard when you look at going somewhere else. You look and you go, 'Why would I want to?' For me personally, I can't imagine I could have ended up in a better place for me over the last 24 years."

- Josh Flynt ('11)

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