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    Fighting Irish Athletics Blog

    Welcome to the new Fighting Irish Athletics Blog! Notre Dame fans can get a look inside the world of Fighting Irish athletics from coaches, players and staff. Check back on a regular basis for news and notes about Notre Dame athletics and our various teams, and for even more news on the Fighting Irish, follow us on Twitter (www.twitter.com/UND_com) and Facebook (go to Facebook.com and search for "und.com"). Go Irish!!!


    Sunday, April 3, 2011
    The Notre Dame Women's Basketball team is headed to the Final Four for the third time in program history. The team defeated top-seeded Tennessee in the Dayton Regional Final. The Irish will face the University of Connecticut Huskies for the fourth time this season on Sunday night at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind. The team is so excited to be in the Final Four with the opportunity to play for the NCAA Championship.

    Senior guard Brittany Mallory got chills just thinking about trying to put into words what it is like to be in the Final Four.

    "It's just unbelievable," she said. "I can't completely explain how it feels. It's something new-- we've never been here and we're all in shock still. We're all excited and just going to try to ride out this feeling."

    Junior guard Natalie Novosel also explained how it felt to reach the Final Four.

    "Going into this season we were picked to finish fifth in the Big East," said Novosel. "A lot of people didn't believe in us; we had a lot of doubters. You know, but we expected ourselves to be here at the beginning of the year. We believed in ourselves. We're thrilled to be going into the Final Four right now."

    The Irish women are also looking forward to playing in Indianapolis because it is relatively close to Notre Dame, which will allow for students, family, and their home court fans to travel to the game.

    Senior forward Devereaux Peters hoped that the atmosphere would be like that of a home game for the Irish.

    "It's going to be great, " she shared. "I just heard that the student tickets sold out. That's not something we have that often so I'm very excited about the students and all the other fans coming out to Indy. Hopefully everyone from Indiana will be cheering for us."

    "It's nice to have such a community behind you and for them to have such a short distance to travel is great," Novosel added. "A lot of people have been telling us that they are coming so going into the tournament that helps knowing the fan base is behind you. You want to go out and prove it to them and show how they've really helped us this year."

    Despite all the excitement the girls knew that as they left for the Final Four, they had to be focused.

    "For a couple days it was 'Oh my gosh! We're in the Final Four," said senior forward Becca Bruszewski. "We're in the Final Four!' Now the excitement has kind of settled in and we're ready to go."

    -- posted by Stephanie Faris, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

    Wednesday, March 30, 2011
    The Notre Dame Softball team has been off to a consistent start this season and they do not plan to change. They are still trying to find their groove when it comes to being comfortable with the lineup, but are more comfortable with each other and each person's style of play and personality on the field.

    As a senior, infielder Heather Johnson knows what is needed for the team to gel and achieve their goals.

    "Each year the goals are slightly different because the team dynamics are different, said Johnson."

    Both Johnson and fellow infielder Dani Miller agree that the team is looking to win the Big East conference and get over the hump of Regionals and hopefully earn a spot at Super Regionals.

    The team has many midweek games this year and is using those to prepare for Big East play. Miller also says that despite some losses over their trip to California recently, a lot of good things came out of the trip.

    She says that the things they learned while playing multiple top ten ranked teams will ultimately help win at Regionals.

    Miller is confident that the team can get the job done if they continue to manufacture runs and Johnson adds that they need communication, to hit the ball hard, and have good pitching.

    The Irish will face Purdue on Thursday, March 31, 2011 at 5:00 p.m. EST at Melissa Cook Stadium.

    -- posted by Erin Ellis, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

    Saturday, March 26, 2011
    Last spring, head coach Brian Kelly says they started practices with everyone's name taped to their helmet. As a new coach, he was determined to hit the ground running, but he wasn't sure of any player or position.

    He enters this season, year two of his football program, with both experience and confidence on his side.

    "Now, obviously those things are in place, and it's really going to be about skill development for our players, our charge to the assistant coaches has been really for us, as we hit the field, developing the skills of our players," Kelly says.

    It is not just the familiarity that the players and coaches have with both each other and old plays that help them. The Fighting Irish come back with strength gained from victories in their last three regular season games and the Sun Bowl triumph from last season.

    "Confidence obviously is gained with success and they had some success against some pretty good football teams," Kelly says. "So that carried itself into the off season, our weight training, conditioning--Coach Longo on many occasions would come in with a smile on his face. I didn't see him smile at all last year."

    Seniors Dayne Crist and John Goodman, leaders of this year's team, both independently described the difference between last spring and this spring "night and day."

    "I know that sounds cliché," Crist admits, "but even just with the install that we have going in, going back and watching that same install from camp, I mean forget spring, even from camp we say, `Man, we looked bad.' It's a great see we've come that far, and now this spring it's about taking it to the next level."

    Goodman agrees, recalling that last year the team only had one or two plays in the first practice.

    "We weren't ready for it last year, and Coach Kelly knew that," he says. "This year, we have new plays plus all the old plays we used to have last year. We're making strides, and we're so much farther ahead--blocking, catching, passing, the whole game."

    Both Crist and Goodman enter spring practices knowing they have to compete hard. Crist sat out the second half of last season after suffering a knee injury during the Tulsa game, and Kelly has cited Goodman as the wide receiver he expects to look to in Michael Floyd's undetermined absence. They are the team's leaders, but they have a lot of ground to cover themselves.

    "However guys label it, I've just got to compete," Crist says. "You don't come to college just to be given things, that's not how it works. Everyday I've just got to come out and be as good as I can be and get better. It's pretty simple for me, actually."

    With strong attitudes and stronger work ethic, the Irish look toward the fall with high hopes. Everyone is smiling a little more this season.

    -- posted by Lauren Chval, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

    Friday, March 25, 2011
    The No.3 Notre Dame men's lacrosse team triumphed over No.20 Ohio State in a nailbiter on Wednesday afternoon. The Irish were up 7-4 with less than eight minutes remaining on the clock in the final quarter of the game. With just over a minute left in the game, Ohio State responded to Notre Dame's lead with three quick goals, tying the game, 7-7.

    While overtime play seemed imminent, junior Sean Rogers happened to be in the right place at the right time and scored the game-winning goal with just thirty-three seconds left in the game. Rogers three goals in Wednesday's game equaled a career-high total that he completed twice last season as well.

    "I was fortunate enough to be in the right spots on Wednesday and I was able to finish the opportunities I was given," said Rogers. "In a close game like that you start to envision the possibility of overtime but we believe in playing to the last whistle."

    Although Notre Dame's win over Ohio State improved their season record to 5-0, the final quarter of the game was not ideal in terms of team chemistry and success on the attack.

    "I think our offense as a whole stopped playing well," noted Rogers. "We were trading 3-minute possession for 30-second possession and it gave them the opportunity to come back."

    While the offense struggled in the final quarter, the Irish defense held strong. Despite the win, Rogers recognized the need for constant communication between the offense and defense.

    "We put too much pressure on our defense. There wasn't one particular thing [that contributed to OSU's comeback] but our offense as a whole has to perform better in situations like that," he said.

    A combination of skill and optimism were crucial to the team's success against Ohio State.

    "As far as the ending goes, I didn't imagine that happening but I knew that with the players we have we would definitely have one more opportunity to score."

    The men's lacrosse team opens BIG EAST Conference play this Sunday against the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers who are off to a 5-2 start this season. In last season's meeting of the two teams, Notre Dame suffered a 10-8 loss to Knights.

    "Losing to Rutgers last year was a tough pill to swallow, as it was the first loss at Arlotta Stadium. Last year they came in and beat us pretty bad," Rogers recalled. "While it's a new season and a new team, we definitely remember that loss."

    Although last year's loss proved to be hard-hitting against the Irish, they continue to look forward to this season and new opportunities for success.

    "We're approaching this game like every other one. We have to come out and execute the game plan and we should be alright," said Rogers.

    While Sunday's game will mark a new BIG EAST beginning for the Irish, Sean Rogers and the rest of the lacrosse squad view each game as a stepping-stone to their ultimate goal of winning the National Championship.

    "I'm not a big fan of individual goals or stats," Rogers acknowledged. "The only stat that matters is that we keep winning games. Our team goal is to win the National Championship and in order to do that we need to get better every day in practice and win our upcoming games in the BIG EAST."

    The match-up between Notre Dame and Rutgers is scheduled for Sunday, March 27 at noon (ET) at the RU Turf Field in Piscataway, NJ.

    -- posted by Hilary Feguson, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

    Friday, March 25, 2011
    Tonight at Frank Eck Stadium, the Irish baseball team will play their first home game and open up Big East action against Georgetown at 5:35 p.m. Notre Dame enters this weekend after a rocky start to its season with a record of 7-10-1. Over spring break, the team traveled to South Carolina and Texas. Beating UAB, Kent State and Texas-San Antonio, the Irish performed well on the field especially when freshman left fielder Eric Jagielo hit a two-run homer in the ninth to beat Kent State. However, with tough losses to Coastal Carolina, Iowa and Gonzaga, whom they also tied 3-3 in the final game, the Irish are looking to make a strong start in the Big East.

    "I think we are still learning a lot about our team this year," said fifth-year senior OF Herman Petzold. "Obviously, the spring trip was a little disappointing as far as the ultimate outcome. We had a lot of close games with the ones we lost.

    However, he, like his teammates, feel the Irish have definitely been improving, especially offensively. Currently, the team's batting average is .235 going into the series tonight. What has been really beneficial for Notre Dame is their solid defense posting a .968 fielding percentage and their quality pitching with a 2.87 ERA over the past 18 games.

    "You could definitely see progression in our offense, where we have been struggling as a team," added Petzold. "You can see that our bats are getting better and offensively we are getting to be more productive."

    Furthermore, Notre Dame welcomed a new head coach this season, Mik Aoki, who previously coached Boston College's baseball program. With 19 years of experience coaching college baseball, Aoki brings valuable knowledge, guidance and insight with him that has helped the team improve and prepare for this season.

    "Coach is very constructive on our playing especially offensively," said sophomore catcher Joe Hudson. "He will be behind home plate critiquing every one of our swings and getting us better. "I think that we need someone like that."

    "Coach Aoki doesn't have to be too vocal about it, but you definitely know what he expects of you," said Petzold. "Everyone knows what there job is and what they're going to go out there and do. "I can tell people are playing out there with more of a purpose and for the team instead of themselves. He has definitely established the kind of morale and the kind of attitude that we need to be successful."

    With respect to how the team has been doing in accomplishing their goal, Irish head coach Mik Aoki stated, "We haven't played our way into or out of achieving some of the things we talked about - 35 wins, a Big East tournament championship, and different things like that, but I think we have a better picture of where it is that we really need to improve in order to get to there. By and large, a lot of it is on the offensive end of things. I think all of them are certainly still in play."

    The last time the Irish baseball team won in their first Big East opening series was against Georgetown in 2008 when they swept the team in three games. This weekend, Notre Dame is looking to move past their previous hard-fought losses and turn the season around.

    "We are excited to be opening up in the Big East and getting a fresh slate in terms of the record where everybody going into it is 0-0," declared Coach Aoki. "I think that Coach Wilk has done a good job out there with Georgetown's program so we will certainly have our hands full."

    With Georgetown coming off a seven game winning streak, Notre Dame will definitely have tough competition, but this is only added incentive for the Irish.

    -- posted by Brianna Coyne, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

    Friday, March 25, 2011
    On Saturday night the Notre Dame Hockey team will face Merrimack at the NCAA Regionals in Manchester, N.H. The team left Thursday evening and the players are excited about returning to the NCAA tournament.

    For freshman defenseman Stephen Johns, this will be his first experience at the NCAAs so he is looking forward to the opportunity.

    "I'm looking forward to the excitement of playing," he stated. "I grew up watching these games and always dreamed of playing in them one day. To get the chance to finally play in the NCAAs is going to be a really fun experience."

    Senior Captain Ryan Guentzel explained that getting back to the NCAAs was one of the team's main focuses at the beginning of the season. This is the fourth time in the past five years that the Irish are making an NCAA appearance so the players wanted to maintain the program's reputation.

    Guentzel also explained that the team was staying focused on having fun while playing.

    "Coach told us enjoy the moment, but don't put too much pressure on ourselves," said Guentzel. "So we're just going to go out there, have a good time, and hopefully come out with some victories."

    Guentzel and fellow seniors Calle Ridderwall and Ben Ryan have played in two previous NCAA tournaments their freshman and sophomore years. Their freshman year the hockey team made it to the Frozen Four and played against Boston College for the title, but lost. Then their sophomore year, they suffered a tough upset in the opening round to Bemidji State.

    "We've seen the highs and we've seen the lows of it so we're just going to go out there and be sure we're ready to play and see what happens," said Guentzel.

    The seniors have been able to draw on these past experiences and offer guidance to their younger teammates.

    "The upperclassmen have led by example and giving us advice when we need it all season," said sophomore goaltender Mike Johnson. "They've been talking to us all week about how important certain things are and they've been doing a really good job."

    The Irish understand that playing in an NCAA tournament game requires an increased level of intensity as opposed to a regular season game.

    "In tournament play everyone steps it up a couple levels," Guentzel said. "Everyone is battling for every puck, every shot on goal. There are only 60 minutes in the game so you have to make the most of every shift and every opportunity and just enjoy it."

    "It's win or go home so everybody has that extra gear they go to in the playoffs," added Johnson. "We know what we're getting into and we're going to have to crank up the gear this weekend."

    As they enter the NCAA tournament, the Notre Dame hockey team will take one game at a time staying focused on the present moment and enjoying just playing the game they love.

    -- posted by Stephanie Farris, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

    Thursday, March 10, 2011

    The Fighting Irish softball team set a new school record with nine straight wins to start off their 2011 season, breaking its 2001 eight-game winning streak. This great performance has really helped the team gain momentum as they get ready to start competing against BIG EAST Conference opponents later this month.

    "Your goal every year is to start strong for many reasons," stated Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf. "Number one is confidence, because I think when you start this strong you gain a lot of confidence in what you are capable of doing. The other thing I like about this start is that we have had to come back from behind to win games. This is really important for a team, especially early in the season, because now they know they are capable of winning any game."

    In preparation for the season, the squad focused on fundamentals as well as strong team dynamics, which has proven to be very beneficial for them. After this past weekend in Florida, the team has improved its overall record to 12-2.

    Two weeks ago at the Cougar Classic in South Carolina, the five pitchers - Jody Valdivia, Laura Winter, Jackie Bowe, Brittany O'Donnell and Shannon Kelly - combined to post a 0.54 ERA in 26.0 innings pitched. With numbers like that, the pitching corps has been a crucial element for these early season wins.

    "I have five pitchers and they have done a good job of working together," Gumpf revealed. "I think what they've realized is that for us to win, we can't really just depend on one. We've tried that and it hasn't really worked. They have done a great job of working together and complementing each another - on and off the field."

    Even senior Jody Valdivia had some concerns heading into the season with so many pitchers on board, which has not been the case for the Irish in previous seasons. However, all reservations were dispelled with the pitchers' success this season.

    "Getting used to working in a five-pitcher rotation, I thought it would be a lot harder. But everybody jumped on board with it. I think the thing that is great about having five pitchers is that we have five great girls who are all working together as a one unit," added Valdivia.

    Another important component for the team's success is Alexa Maldonado's stellar start to the season. Named BIG EAST Player of the Week in mid-February, Maldonado hit .545 with six runs and six hits at the USF Invitational.

    "I couldn't be more proud of a player than I am of Alexa," expressed Gumpf. "At this point, where she is more mature and confident about herself, the sky is the limit for her. She is the kind of ball player that can do anything at any time and this could be the year of her life, because she is that good."

    This season, the roster boasts eight seniors whose experience and talent have been leading the team especially captain and third baseman, Heather Johnson.

    "I think when you look at the confidence factor for the team it starts with Heather Johnson. When Heather says everything is okay, it is okay. Everybody jumps on her back and you can see that in the way they respond to her," Gumpf said. "I am really proud of her because she is definitely the leader, and a calming leader who doesn't get wired up or frazzled."

    "I think the strongest aspect of our team this season is the fact that we have our eight seniors. We regained our focus in the fall and said 'alright, the only way this is going to be a good season is if we all get on the same page'," Valdivia disclosed. "I think it has been a wonderful thing playing this last season with them."

    With such a terrific and confident start, Notre Dame's softball team is a force to be reckoned with this season and has high expectations, especially when it starts playing BIG EAST foes.

    As Gumpf put simply: "Our goals are more about taking care of the little things that we are responsible for and accountable for. If we do that, good things will happen."

    -- posted by Brianna Coyne, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

    Friday, March 4, 2011

    The Irish fencing teams spend a lot of time together. When asked, they struggle to remember how many weekends they have off from fencing (they can recall at least one), and as they sit at Reckers for lunch, their sport dominates their casual conversation.

    Most of them have been fencing nationally since their elementary school days, and it is a tight knit community. This week, they are coming off a first-place finish for both the men's and women's teams in last weekend's U.S. Intercollegiate Squad Championships but also looking forward to the Midwest Conference Fencing Championships.

    It was the inaugural year for Intercollegiate Squad Championships, and Notre Dame only sent two of its six fencing squads. Both men's foil and women's sabre brought home gold. The format of the tournament strayed from the usual collegiate rules. Instead of adding up wins and losses individually, the team started at zero and builds up to 45 points together.

    "If you start out and your first fencer loses the bout, your next fencer has to come up and fence off the loss," junior Reggie Bentley said. "It's more of a team event than the collegiate format."

    As they were so successful this year, next year the fencers hope all six squads will get to participate.

    Bentley and senior Sarah Borrman are also optimistic about their performance this weekend in their conference championships.

    "Ohio State lost a lot of fencers, and I think in general they've been a lot weaker this year," Borrman said. "We've fenced them twice this season and absolutely crushed them. So I think our expectations are just to maintain where we've been at."

    -- posted by Lauren Chval, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

    Friday, March 4, 2011

    The Notre Dame Women's Tennis team traveled to Montgomery, Ala. this past weekend to participate in the Blue-Gray Classic. The No. 19 Irish upset No. 9 Virginia on Sunday. Head Coach Jay Louderback was really impressed with his team's play. The tournament marked the first time the tennis team has been able to play outdoors this year and the girls adjusted quickly.

    "For us it was a surprise that we played that well right off because we had only played one day outdoors," Louderback said. "We hit Thursday and then played. Usually it takes our kids three or four days and also a match for us to feel comfortable."

    Junior Kristy Frilling was named MVP of the Blue Gray Classic and Louderback offered her great praises.

    "Kristy had a great tournament. She had maybe the best comeback I've ever seen a kid have. Against Oklahoma she was down three match points. She was down a set 5-1 and 40-love. I mean you just don't come back from those, but she did. She hung in there and didn't give up," he shared.

    Louderback was proud of the play of his entire team--from the top of the lineup to the bottom. He believes that beating a top-ten team served as a great boost for the girls.

    "We hadn't beaten one in the top ten yet and that was something that we really needed," Louderback said. "Our kids, especially with two freshmen in the lineup and as much as we lost from last year, needed to know that we could beat a top-ten team."

    The Irish Women's Tennis team is looking forward to the rest of the season and improving their performance against some very competitive teams.

    Louderback said, "Right now we're hoping to just keep getting better. We've been playing better as the year has gone on. We still have tough matches. We've got two top ten matches in our next five with Duke and Baylor and then Tennessee is a top fifteen so of our next five matches, three are in the top fifteen. It's not going to get any easier, but it's good for us."

    -- posted by Stephanie Farris, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

    Friday, March 4, 2011

    The University of Notre Dame men's track and field team looks to continue their streak of success this weekend as they host the Alex Wilson Invitational Friday and Saturday. Two weeks ago, the Irish finished in second place with 132 points at the BIG EAST Championship, held at the Stile Athletics Field House in Akron, Ohio. Although the men were unable to re-claim the indoor BIG EAST title, they finished the meet with several individual BIG EAST titles and all-BIG EAST honors under their belt.

    Sophomore Jeremy Rae won the mile at the BIG EAST championships and also ran on the 4x800 meter relay which not only won the BIG EAST, but posted the fastest time in the nation this year.

    "We wanted those points because we're trying to win the team title," Rae said. "We wanted to make sure we won it and we did. The focus for me was the individual mile earlier in the day, which I won. It was a big deal for me because the guy that came in second place had won the past two years. He is also a multiple time All-American, so I knew if I was going to win, I was going to have to beat him and it ended up happening."

    When asked how he prepared to compete with such a talented opponent, Rae mentioned the advice given to him by a former teammate, Dan Clark.

    "I had raced him before and Dan sent me a video of prior races," Rae said. "Dan told me how he races and what some ideal strategies would be. It worked out really well."

    Along with these impressive accomplishments, Rae was also voted BIG EAST player of the week for two consecutive weeks.

    While the BIG EAST Championship helped the team to prepare for this weekend's invitational, training and practice has been crucial to the success of the team. This weekend's Alex Wilson Invitational will hopefully allow the team to qualify for nationals.

    "We're doing a distance medley relay this weekend which consists of a 1200 leg, a 400 leg, a 800 leg, and a 1600 leg," Rae said. "This week has been devoted to figuring out who is healthy and performing the best. Our focus is to get into Nationals with the relay; we're going to try to auto-qualify with that, so we can hopefully get four guys to nationals." Nationals are just around the corner, followed by the start of the outdoor season.

    While Rae recognizes the importance of hard work and long training sessions in the dead of winter, he also identified the importance of mental strength.

    "It's tough coming in as a freshman because training is a lot different than high school," Rae said. "I never really raced all year long in high school and in college, you do a lot more mileage and training is a lot tougher. You definitely have to get used to the new system. By spring last year, I was starting to come around. I didn't do that well in indoor, but by the time I got to outdoor, I had a lot more confidence in myself."

    When asked what advice he would give to incoming freshman, Rae believes a combination of confidence and patience is the key to achieving personal and team goals. Taking into account all of Rae's accomplishments thus far, it is safe to say this combination is the key to success.

    -- posted by Hilary Ferguson, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

    Thursday, March 3, 2011

    After their historic win on Monday night against Villanova, the Notre Dame men's basketball team presses on in its pursuit of the BIG EAST title. Next up, the Irish travel to Connecticut on Saturday afternoon at Gampel Pavilion. Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey and his team are celebrating their record breaking victory, but are focusing on what they need to do to top one of their Big East rivals.

    The Irish, who are ranked No. 8 attempt to defend their three-point victory over the No. 16 Huskies back on January 4, know that they must use the energy from Monday's game and combine it with hard work this week in practice.

    When talking about the team's success this far into the season, senior guard Ben Hansbrough, who along with fellow teammate Tim Abromaitis scored 30 points on Monday, says the team have a lot left to accomplish.

    "I don't think anyone is satisfied yet," said Hansbrough. "We still have to go take care of business and focus on getting better every day. I've always said, whoever earns [the BIG EAST title], deserves it."

    Coach Brey also touches on the importance of concentration for the team and says "I've talked about our ability to concentrate all year and focus."

    Earning a BIG EAST championship is definitely in the sights of the team at this point and they are not letting their winning streak distract them.

    "We're still on the climb," said senior Carleton Scott. "We don't want to peak just yet, and we have to go in there against Connecticut, which is a really good team, at their place and try to play the same way we play at home. If we take care of our business and the cards fall the right way, then we could be BIG EAST champs."

    To see if the Irish earn the BIG EAST title tune in to ESPN at 2 p.m. on Saturday and watch them compete in the final regular season game of the year.

    -- posted by Eric Ellis, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

    Saturday, February 26, 2011

    Notre Dame opened its three-game series with Seattle on Friday with a 5-0 victory. Here are a number of notes from the game:

    DUPRA'S ELEVEN - Senior RHP Brian Dupra fanned a career-high 11 in yesterday's 5-0 victory over Seattle. The 11 strikeouts were the most by an Irish pitcher since Steve Sabatino struck out 11 at Villanova on May 15, 2010. It was the most strikeouts by a Notre Dame right-handed pitcher since David Phelps totaled 11 at Louisville on May 12, 2007. In fact, a Notre Dame pitcher, either right-handed or left-handed, has not posted more strikeouts in a game since Tom Thornton fanned 12 against Kent State on June 5, 2004. The last Irish righty to eclipse 11 strikeouts in a game was Chris Neisel (12 in relief vs. Ball State on May 5, 2004).

  • Dupra, who walked his first batter of the season in the second inning on Friday, has now punched out 16 in 13.0 innings in 2011. He lowered his season ERA to 1.38.

    BULLPEN STILL PERFECT - Notre Dame's bullpen has now thrown 10.2 innings this season and still has yet to allow a run. Irish relievers have fanned 11, walked three and are holding their opponents to a .225 batting average.

    IRISH STARTERS QUALITY - Notre Dame's starting pitchers amassed 10 quality starts over the course of the entire 2010 season (54 games). The Irish rotation of senior RHP Brian Dupra, senior RHP Cole Johnson and senior RHP Todd Miller has nearly posted half that amount already in 2011. Notre Dame has gotten a quality start in every game this year.

    STILL EARLY, BUT WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES - Notre Dame was victimized with two outs in 2010. Irish opponents hit .309 (198-for-641) with two outs and registered 154 two-out RBI, which was almost three per game. Notre Dame had a mere 91 two-out RBI and hit only .259.

  • The Irish have completely reversed that trend in 2011. Notre Dame has limited its opponents to a .105 (4-for-38) batting average with two outs and no two-out RBI over its first four games this season. The Irish, on the other hand, have 11 two-out RBI with a .292 (14-for-48) batting average.

    Friday, February 25, 2011

    This weekend, Notre Dame's hockey team will face Western Michigan to complete its regular season and possibly clinch the CCHA title for the third time in the past five years. Currently, the 8th ranked Irish are one-point ahead of Michigan and need to hold on to this lead this weekend to win the CCHA. Last weekend, the team swept Ferris State, 3-2 and 5-2, increasing their unbeaten streak to seven games.

    "Ferris State is one of the hardest places to play in the conference," senior center Ben Ryan said. "They play a high tempo style so for our younger guys to be able to go in there and play in that atmosphere, I think it is similar to what we are going to see in the NCAA tournament and playoffs. I think we definitely took a step forward as a team and learned that we can win tight games like we did against Ferris State."

    After the wins over Ferris State, Notre Dame improved their overall record to 20-9-5, which is the fourth time in the past five seasons that the Irish have at least won 20 games.

    "The guys are focused on the light at the end of the tunnel. We've worked really hard. It's been a long season, but at the same time it's gone by really fast just cause we've enjoyed it so much," senior defenseman Joe Lavin added. "This is a team we want to do something special with and we are really looking forward to it."

    Tonight, Notre Dame will travel to Lawson Arena in Kalamazoo, Michigan to play Western Michigan at 7:35 p.m. Even though Western Michigan trails Notre Dame by fifteen points in the CCHA standings, they will still be tough opponents for the Irish. When they played earlier this season, Notre Dame won the first game 3-2 at the Joyce Center, but tied the Broncos when they played them the next night in Kalamazoo. Notre Dame did though take the extra point by winning the shoot out, 1-0.

    "This weekend is a huge weekend, because Michigan is only a point behind us in the standings and to win a regular season championship would be a heck of an accomplishment from our expectations at the beginning of the year. It's the biggest weekend of the year bottom line," Ryan said.

    Then on Saturday night, the Irish come back to the Joyce Center to play the second game in the home-and-home series at 7:05 p.m. Also, five of the team members, Brian Brooke, Ryan Guentzel, Joe Lavin, Calle Ridderwall, and Ben Ryan will be honored at Senior Night following the game.

    "They (the seniors) deserve all the credit. Obviously to win, you have to have talent, but you also have to have character and chemistry. The captains have been the guys that pretty much laid the path for all these young kids to follow," stated Coach Jeff Jackson. "Anything they do from here on out is a feather in their cap, because this group has definitely done a lot more than maybe people expected."

    Because of their final season in the Joyce Center and the closing of the seniors' Notre Dame careers, the hockey team has a lot of incentive, especially the seniors, to leave their mark on the Irish hockey program going into this weekend's games against Western Michigan.

    "It is kind of scary how fast the year has gone, but I wouldn't change a thing with this group of guys," senior right wing Ryan Guentzel said. "Opening the rink next year with a banner for the CCHA title is something that we really want to give them."

    -- posted by Briana Coyne, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

    Wednesday, February 23, 2011

    Coming off a tough loss against No. 2 Northwestern this past weekend, the Irish women's lacrosse team has moved past the defeat and is focused on the rest of their season. Notre Dame remains positive after the 14-11 loss in Loftus Center on Saturday.

    Senior defender Lauren Fenlon says the team is excited for the competitive Big East play to get under way and achieving their goal of sweeping the league slate.

    Senior midfielder Kailene Abt is equally confident in the Irish.

    "We know how talented we are as a team this year," Abt said. "We want to go as far as possible because we know we are capable of accomplishing some great things."

    Abt also hopes to achieve her personal goal of scoring more goals than last season. In 2010, Abt totaled 29 goals. Abt has scored three goals over the first three games of this season.

    It is all about progress for the Irish at such an early stage of this season. Fenlon feels the team is looking to take a big stride forward. She believes that head coach Tracy Coyne was very positive after the loss to Northwestern and agreed that the team played its hardest.

    Abt realizes this weekend's game against Duquesne will go a long way in terms of their progression.

    "We are focused and prepared for the next game, but we need a win to prove that we are truly making progress," Abt said.

    Notre Dame is currently 1-2 and ranked 11th nationally. The Irish will face off against Duquesne at Noon ET on Sat., Feb. 26 at Rooney Field in Pittsburgh.

    -- posted by Erin Ellis, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

    Monday, February 21, 2011

    In the season opener yesterday, the No. 6 Notre Dame men's lacrosse team defeated No. 5 Duke, 12-7, in an exciting game at Everbank Field in Jacksonville, Fla. Irish head coach Kevin Corrigan made it clear that the team did not view the game as a rematch of the 2010 National Championship game.

    "A rematch would imply that we both have the same teams," Corrigan said. "That ship has sailed unfortunately. We played them as the first game of this year. You can't get that one back, but it's an awfully good team to start the year with."

    The Irish players were glad to take the trip down to the Sunshine Classic to begin their regular season.

    "It's neat to play in the Jaguars' stadium, which is a very cool venue, and obviously to play on ESPN and to play a very good Duke team," Corrigan said. "The guys were ready to play. It was a long preseason too so they were excited to play anybody, but they were particularly excited to play Duke."

    There were over 8,000 fans in attendance, which created a great atmosphere for both teams to play in. The players were very focused and the game was physical from the start.

    "The intensity of the game from the opening whistle was very good," Corrigan said. "For an opening game, it was really well played. Both teams struggled a little offensively in the beginning, but we found our way over the course of the day."

    Corrigan also gave special recognition to sophomore goaltender John Kemp for his performance in the game.

    "I think our goalie played really well in addition to a number of other guys," Corrigan said. "He started two games last year when Scott Rodgers was hurt, but this was the first game of his era so to speak."

    The Irish were able to prepare for this opening matchup by traveling earlier this year to Florida to face the U.S. National Team.

    "The opportunity to do that really helped us this weekend," Corrigan said. "We got to go down there and play on grass for three days and play against a really talented National team. That trip was instrumental in getting us through our preseason successfully. It gave us an early challenge and allowed us to measure ourselves a little bit where we thought we needed to be."

    The Irish are looking forward to facing Penn State, a usual early season rival, this weekend. Penn State is under first-year head coach, Jeff Tambroni, which provides a bit of a challenge for Notre Dame.

    "Penn State has always been a battle for us," Corrigan said. "They have a new coach for the first time in thirty years. This coach was at Cornell and had a great team and great success there so I really think it's going to be interesting to see the Cornell philosophy and coaching with the Penn State players. It's a little bit of an unknown for us, but we have a week to prepare."

    The Irish lacrosse team is excited to have gotten their season off to a good start, but continue to work hard and will try to move forward this week against a good Penn State team.

    -- posted by Stephanie Farris, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

    Tuesday, November 9, 2010

    Only 30 minutes into his first training session with the the San Jose Earthquakes, senior goalkeeper Phil Tuttle suffered a detrimental injury, a torn meniscus, which could have ended his final season with the Irish. This injury, which happened to be the first of his athletic career, occurred only three weeks before Notre Dame's preseason would begin. However, Tuttle resolutely decided that he would not let this obstacle keep him from playing for Notre Dame.

    "Initially, they said I was going to be out for three to four months, which is basically the whole season. Through rehabilitation and the help of a really good surgeon, I was able to get back in a little less than two months," stated Tuttle.

    The fifth-year senior was named the lone captain for Notre Dame this season and with that honor came the difficult task of having to lead the team from the bench while he was still recovering. Because of this, Tuttle was able to further develop his leadership skills by guiding and encouraging his teammates through his words instead of his actions. Also, Tuttle looked to the senior class, comprised of Jeb Brovsky, Bilal Duckett, Greg Klazura, Craig Krzyskowski, Andrew Luttrell and Steven Perry for assistance.

    "Being the sole captain, I did not have a lot of people to talk to about this position so I have needed to rely on the senior class and involve them a lot," Tuttle expressed. "Overall, the leadership on the team has been great. Everyone has been really stepping up."

    Tuttle found it hard to start his last season with an injury, especially because he hopes to continue to play professionally although he will not concentrate on this goal until after the end of the season. Starting the Northwestern game on September 29, Tuttle was excited to return and ready to go. He had four saves that game and has continued to do well this season with a 7-2-2 record including two shutouts.

    "It was pretty difficult dealing with an injury going into my final season with the Irish. I have aspirations of playing after graduation so I knew this was going to be a big year. Not being able to play at first was a real setback for me," mentioned Tuttle. "When I started my first game this season against Northwestern, it felt great to be back. It felt right."

    Having played for five years with the Irish, Tuttle believes his first two seasons, in which he did not see any playing time, were crucial to his progress as a player. Even though it was a tough transition from high school where he played every game, Tuttle was learning through observing the veteran players on the team and working diligently.

    "Looking back on that now, it was a really good time for me to develop as a player. And now, I am able to play and perform and realize that all that time I put in back then is really paying off now," Tuttle stated.

    Also the mentoring that Tuttle received from head coach Bobby Clark as well as watching former Irish goalies, Chris Cahill and Andrew Quinn, improved Tuttle's understanding of the game and his place on the team.

    "Bobby was always there letting me know what the next level and next step were for me," said Tuttle. "My knowledge of the game and the overall position of being a goalkeeper has completely changed and I just know so much more."

    As for what he has learned during his recovery period and what he would impart to other athletes, Tuttle stresses, "Enjoy every second you have out there. Really play like it's your last game, because you never know."

    Since coming back from his injury, Tuttle has really gained a new appreciation for playing soccer and he values the time that he spends playing on the pitch. He no longer takes the game that he loves for granted.

    "People say it's a lot about wins and losses, but I think the overall joy of the game has really comeback for me," reveals Tuttle.

    -- posted by Briana Coyne, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

    Monday, October 26, 2010

    In late September, the Irish men's soccer team faced Northwestern in an entirely new environment. Both teams had the opportunity to play at Toyota Park, the home field and $100 million stadium of the Chicago Fire. Brendan King, a midfielder for the Irish, and Greg Klazura, a defender, felt right at home playing in the heart of Chicago.

    King, who grew up in Naperville, attended Chicago Fire matches as a kid. The team originally played at Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears. During renovation of Soldier Field and prior to the construction of Toyota Park, the professional soccer club played in Naperville in 2002. Klazura also attended games growing up with his father at Soldier Field. When told they would have the opportunity to play at the home of the Chicago Fire, both King and Klazura were excited because of their Illinois origins and familiarity with the team.

    King and Klazura not only attended Fire games growing up, but also had the opportunity to attend summer leagues with the professional team. In 2007, the Chicago Fire Premier Super-20 team was formed. This team allows the top 17-20 year-old players from North America to play in a professional setting among advanced competition during the summer months. Both Klazura and King gained experience playing with the Fire during the summers following their freshmen and sophomore years at Notre Dame.

    The rivalry between Northwestern and Notre Dame runs deep, especially because Northwestern has knocked the Irish out of the tournament the last two years. As two of the best teams in the Chicago area, the Wildcats and the Irish played an ultra competitive game that resulted in a 1-1 draw. Both King and Klazura had played on the practice fields of the Chicago Fire and been in the locker rooms, but never had the opportunity to set foot on the new field. Although the game was a tie, both members of the Irish men's soccer team concurred that playing in a new, yet familiar setting was an experience in itself, and one they would never forget.

    -- posted by Hilary Ferguson, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

    Monday, October 5, 2010

    Notre Dame's junior midfielder, Brendan King, spent his summer overseas immersed in the world of soccer, or football as it is properly referred to over there. King had the chance to attend the World Cup final in South Africa and practice with Borussia Dortmund, a team in the Bundesliga, the German soccer league.

    Because of his father's job, King has been present at many World Cup finals. This year's World Cup was held in South Africa from June 11th till the final on July 11th.

    "My Dad works for USA soccer so he is well connected in the soccer world. He was able to get tickets through various different people. I have been lucky enough to go to every World Cup final since 1994. It has been an amazing experience," commented King.

    Even though he was only in the country for two days, it was hard for King not to feel the energy and excitement in the atmosphere of the most widely watched sporting event in the world. The final match was between two very talented teams, Spain and the Netherlands. Even though he was cheering for USA during the tournament when it came down to the final, King rooted for Netherlands.

    "The atmosphere was unbelievable. The vuvuzelas created the atmosphere in the stadium. You could tell that the people of South Africa were really behind it," stated King. "They wanted to make a statement to the world that they could host the World Cup and I think they did a good job."

    Also this past summer, King had the opportunity of practicing with the reserve team for Borussia Dortmund, a German team which is currently ranked 2nd in the Bundesliga. For about three weeks, King was able to improve his speed of play and sharpen his soccer skills while training. He traveled with the team for a training camp and roomed with one of the players. Thankfully, the language barrier was not too difficult for him, because most of the players spoke some English.

    "At first when you go overseas and the guys see an American in the locker room, they think, "Who is this guy and what is he's doing here?" After the first couple of days, you show them you can play and get to know them in a soccer sense," mentioned King. "Once you get to know the players in that soccer sense, they want to get to know you off the field."

    While he was in Germany, King had the chance to see a Borussia Dortmund play in preseason match as well. This wasn't the first time King played soccer in Europe. At 16, he trained with his favorite club, Manchester United. He practiced with their 18U team and was able to see his role model, Ryan Giggs, and many other talented footballers, like Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo, in the team's cafeteria.

    "Ryan Giggs is a left-sided midfielder and that is where I play. He is so quick and he can take players one-on-one, which is something I try and do. He has always been a role model for me. His personal life is all sorted out. He is a real pro," said King.

    Regarding seeing members of the Manchester United football club in person, King mentioned, "It was really cool to have grown up seeing these guys play and then be in the same cafeteria as them. I was definitely a little awe-struck."

    Two summers ago, he also practiced with Mainz, another top-quality German team which is currently ranked 1st in the league. King believes without doubt that all this international training has helped him become a better player for the Fighting Irish.

    "It has been good to get those overseas experiences and get your name out there, but really it's been for training and getting ready for our season. It helps keep you sharp, make sure that your touch is on, and raise your speed of play. It gets your fitness up before you come in for Notre Dame's preseason," stated King.

    -- posted by Briana Coyne, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

    Sunday, September 26, 2010

    The fifth-annual Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic will be hosted on Monday at Notre Dame's Warren Golf Course for what promises to be an exciting event. The tournament, which is sponsored and supported by the Isban family as well as Notre Dame's Department of Athletics, was created by head coach Jim Kubinski.

    In addition to Notre Dame hosting the tournament, this past weekend alumni members of Notre Dame's golf team came together for a weekend filled with enjoyable activities. On Friday night, the former golfers attended a dinner to meet and talk with the current Fighting Irish golfers. On Sunday, the alumni and current golfers played a round of golf. Furthermore, most of the alumni, as well as the participants of the Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic, attended the Notre Dame-Stanford football game on Saturday.

    The 22 alumni golfers who returned spanned 60 years of the Notre Dame golf program. One of the former golfers attending Tom Hanlon, a '48 graduate, was part of the National Championship team in 1944, which has been the only national championship team for Notre Dame thus far. Also, Cole Isban, a 2007 graduate who still holds the Irish record for all-time leading scorer, was here this weekend as well as some of his fellow teammates, Adam Gifford and Shane Sigsbee, from Notre Dame's 2006 Big East Championship team.

    In this year's tournament, the teams competing are Notre Dame, Texas-Arlington, College of Charleston, University of Iowa, Eastern Michigan University, University of Missouri, Gonzaga University, University of San Francisco, University of Cincinnati, Seton Hall University, and Miami University. Previous champions of this event include Lamar University in 2006, Michigan State University in 2007, University of Arkansas in 2008, and the Fighting Irish in 2009.

    The talented participants includes Iowa University, which is currently ranked 15th according to Golfstat, and Lamar University, a previous champion of the tournament. Overall in this tournament, Notre Dame has strong competition against the 13 other teams.

    "There is always a team that may not be up there in the rankings yet but then comes in and puts a nice solid finish in the FIGGC like the way Cal-Davis did two years ago. They finished second or third out of nowhere; so this tournament should be interesting," commented Kubinski.

    Furthermore, the golf course will prove to be quite a test for the participating golfers especially with the pin positions.

    "Hole 18 is a great finishing hole. On hole 10, we play it as a par 4. The general public and Notre Dame's women's team plays it as a par 5. It's 495 yards. That is as good as any hole you'll find," stated Kubinski. "Holes 10 and 18 will be two holes that play very tough. We have some difficult pin positions on most holes so it will be a good challenge."

    The tournament commences on Monday at 9 AM with a shotgun start and then continuous play into the second round, which is a total of 36 holes for the day and 54 holes for the event. On Tuesday, the final round, which begins at 8:15 AM, will be compromised of split-tee starts at holes 1 and 10 based on each teams performance from Monday.

    Being defending champions of the Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic, Kubinski and his team hope to bring home the title again this year.

    "We have three of the starters coming back this year and the way some of the young guys are playing, we feel it's our tournament to win," stated Kubinski.

    -- posted by Briana Coyne, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

    Wednesday, September 23, 2010

    While most students utilize their summer days for work, relaxation, and time with friends and family, junior men's soccer players Aaron Maund and Will Walsh did quite the opposite. Maund who originates from Dorchester, Massachusetts serves as a central defender for the Fighting Irish. Right behind him is Will Walsh, a goalkeeper from Morristown, New Jersey. The duo trained both in the United States and abroad to further their individual games as well as get an inside look at what is to come.

    Kicking off the summer with a team trip to Scandinavia, the Irish played six matches against various teams from Denmark and Sweden.

    "Our trip to Sweden helped our team to grow as a unit," Walsh said.

    "We were able to see where we stand individually and as a team, and it helped us to get to know the new players as well," Maund added.

    After the conclusion of the trip the rest of the Fighting Irish squad returned to the United States, Maund stayed in Sweden for three weeks to train with the Swedish First Division team Mjallby Football Club.

    "I stayed in a hotel in a small town with about 1,500 people in it," Maund reminisced. "The practices were intense and really opened my eyes to the speed of play of the next level."

    As the summer wore on, both young men spent one week training with a Major League Soccer team based in Columbus, Ohio known as the Columbus Crew. Outwardly seeking opportunities to improve on their game, Walsh contacted his goalie coach from his New Jersey Olympic Development Team who now serves as the goalkeeper coach for the Crew. As a team whose impressive records have put them atop the Eastern Conference for the 2010 regular season, Columbus provided stiff competition and intensified practices for Maund and Walsh.

    "We participated in day-to-day practice drills to help the Crew prepare and improve during their season," Maund said.

    The Crew play a total of forty games over the span of eight months, ending this October.

    When asked about the major differences between soccer on the professional versus the collegiate level, Maund and Walsh both agreed that the speed of play is much quicker.

    "Once you hit the collegiate level, people are done developing their skills. Now it's just learning to make good mental decisions when you have control of the ball and to constantly play smart," Walsh stated. "Training with professionals really gave us an inside taste of the next level, which we definitely both plan on advancing to."

    -- posted by Hilary Ferguson, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

    Friday, September 17, 2010

    For the first time in the program's history, Notre Dame's women's soccer team traveled to Los Angeles last weekend to compete in the UCLA Women's Cup. The four teams that participated were Notre Dame, UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, and Loyola Marymount. However, this trip to the West Coast proved to have some unforeseen glitches for the Irish.

    Before Notre Dame's game against 13th-ranked UCLA Friday night, head coach Randy Waldrum and assistant coach Ken Nuber decided to watch the UCSB v. Loyola Marymount match to scout LMU. To their surprise, the match had been cancelled due to the lack of officials for the game.

    "I did not expect this to happen at a prestigious place like UCLA. I do not think people would come to Notre Dame expecting that," Waldrum said. "In all my years coaching college soccer, I have never seen this happen. Just from an organizational standpoint, it was disappointing how it was handled."

    The hosting university did not rectify the cancelled game for the teams involved, nor for the other teams participating in the tournament. Because of the referee misunderstanding and the cancelled match not being rescheduled, Waldrum questioned whether or not the team should play against a fully-rested Loyola Marymount squad on its home field on Sunday. After assessing the situation, Waldrum decided that the benefits outweighed the risks, so the Irish would still play Loyola Marymount Lions.

    For Sunday's match, the referees arrived at Sullivan Field -- out of uniform -- only 25 minutes before the kickoff and didn't make it out in time for the starting lineups (due to what was called a "shoe malfunction" when one of the officials forgot his footwear), resulting in yet another hiccup for the Irish that weekend.

    Regarding the frustration with the organization of the tournament, Waldrum said, "When the referees showed up late, I thought `here we go again'."

    Putting the setbacks aside, the Irish added another victory to their record with a 1-0 win against Loyola Marymount, scoring less than two minutes into the game.

    On the bright side, a highlight from Notre Dame's weekend was seeing a Major League Soccer game between the Los Angeles Galaxy and the Columbus Crew at the Home Depot Center on Saturday night, a trip made thanks to the generosity of the Monogram Club. The Notre Dame players and coaches watched several World Cup players including Landon Donovan, Edson Buddle, and David Beckham participate in the match.

    "When David Beckham was getting ready on the sidelines, all the girls' cameras and cell phones came out to take pictures. They absolutely loved it," Waldrum commented about his team's excitement to see the good-looking English footballer.

    For some of the Irish players, this had been their first time going to a MLS match. The team had a great time watching the Galaxy impressively beat the Columbus Crew, 3-1, with three remarkable goals.

    After the win on Sunday, Notre Dame concluded its trip in LA with a meal at the well-known California fast food establishment, In-N-Out Burger. The tasty meal was a nice way for the team to end their long and somewhat stressful weekend. Although the Irish faced some problems during their first trip to Los Angeles, this did not distract them from the purpose of their trip, to play their best.

    "We had great games against UCLA and Loyola. We got what we wanted," noted Waldrum. " I said to the girls after the Loyola match, `We got the win, now let's go home'."

    -- posted by Briana Coyne, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

    Thursday, September 16, 2010

    The Notre Dame men and women's cross country team teams will continue their season this Friday by hosting the 31st annual National Catholic Meet at the Notre Dame Golf Course.

    The meet, which started in 1980 with only men's teams, has grown to a meet with 37 men's teams and 36 women's teams. Coach Piane, the Notre Dame men's cross country coach, says that there will be over 270 runners competing this year.

    Notre Dame has hosted and participated in the meet every year. The Holy Cross College men's team has also participated in all 31 competitions. Women began to participate in the meet in 1984. Since it's beginning, the course has changed slightly as the Notre Dame Golf Course, formerly the Burke Memorial Golf Course, has changed.

    The meet is unique in that it is open to all schools, but only Catholic schools tend to come. Many schools use their team's participation in the meet as a recruiting tool for future athletes. Teams of all sizes participate, from the Division III Loris College to Division I schools such as Notre Dame, Xavier, and DePaul participate. All of the schools run together, but scoring is divided into two sections, the collegiate level is for the smaller schools and the university level is for the larger schools.

    Both Irish teams will try to continue their winning streaks that they started at the Valparaiso Crusader Open on September 3rd. The teams will also defend their victories from the National Catholic Meet last year. The races will kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET, with the men's race to follow the women's race.

    -- posted by Erin Ellis, Notre Dame Media Relations Student Assistant

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