The Fighting Irish have enjoyed tremendous success since Byrne rejoined the staff. Notre Dame has posted a 129-44 record (.746) and the Irish have earned an NCAA tournament berth all 11 seasons. Notre Dame received one of the eight national seeds and a first-round home game nine times in the last 10 seasons.
The Fighting Irish have advanced to Championship Weekend four times in the last seven seasons, including title-game appearances in 2010 and 2014. Byrne's work has not gone unnoticed as he was named the 2011 Intercollegiate Men's Lacrosse Coaches Association (IMLCA) National Assistant Coach of the Year for NCAA Division I.
During Byrne's tenure, Notre Dame defenseman Matt Landis became the eighth player to ever win the USILA William C. Schmeisser Award in consecutive years (2015, 2016) as the top defensive player nationally.
During Byrne's most recent stint on campus, Notre Dame captured three Great Western Lacrosse League (GWLL) regular-season titles and two GWLL tournament championships before the Fighting Irish moved to the BIG EAST in 2010 and won that league's regular-season crown in 2012. In their inaugural season in the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014, the Fighting Irish captured the ACC tournament. The Irish went on to capture the ACC regular season title in 2015 and tied for the regular season championship in 2016.
Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan along with Byrne and fellow assistant coach Brian Fisher received the GWLL coaching staff of the year award in 2007 and 2009 and the BIG EAST award in 2012.
Since 2007, Notre Dame has produced 43 All-America and 51 all-conference selections along with having 30 student-athletes drafted into Major League Lacrosse (MLL). Ten of those draft picks have been close defensemen or long-stick midfielders.
The Fighting Irish have reaped the benefits of Byrne's defensive knowledge. Over the last eight seasons under Byrne's direction, the Notre Dame defense has been one of the best in the nation. The Irish have finished in the top-five nationally in scoring defense seven times in the last 11 seasons. Notre Dame produced the nation's top defense in 2009 by allowing a program-record 6.19 goals per game. In 2012, the Fighting Irish boasted the NCAA's top overall defense (6.31 gpg) and man-down defense (.892). The Irish were second in team defense in `11 (6.57) and `10 (7.53), fourth in `07 (6.66) and fifth in `08 (7.04).
Since the beginning of the `07 season (a span of 159 games), the Irish have limited opponents to seven goals or fewer 85 times and they have held foes to four goals or fewer on 19 occasions.
In `08, Notre Dame played host to an NCAA tournament game for the first time in program history. The `09 campaign featured the Irish posting the first undefeated regular season (13-0) in program history before extending their record to a school-best 15-0 in the GWLL tournament. Notre Dame reached the NCAA title game for the first time in school history in `10 and followed that up by achieving the No. 1 national ranking during the `11 regular season.
Notre Dame checked off another program-first in 2012 by winning the BIG EAST regular-season title for the first time. The Irish finished the season with a 13-3 overall record and a perfect 6-0 mark in league play.
The incredible run continued into the 2013 campaign as the Fighting Irish garnered the No. 2 seed, a program best, for the NCAA Championship. The Irish opened the season with three straight wins over top-10 teams (Duke, Penn State, North Carolina) and took down five top-10 foes in all during the year. Those resume-building wins helped Notre Dame achieve the nation's No. 1 ranking twice during the season. The Irish also boasted the nation's top RPI heading into the NCAA tournament.
The Fighting Irish didn't waste time making a big impression in the ACC as they won the league's tournament in their first season by posting wins over Maryland and Syracuse. Sophomore attackman Matt Kavanagh and senior defenseman Stephen O'Hara were named to the All-ACC Team, while Kavanagh also was named MVP of the ACC Championship and he concluded the season with single-season program records for points (75) and assists (33).
The ACC title run ignited the team's march through the NCAA Championship. The Irish garnered the No. 6 seed and topped Harvard, 13-5, in the first round at Arlotta Stadium. Notre Dame used an unbelievable comeback to force overtime against Albany in the quarterfinals before topping the Great Danes, 14-13. The Irish then met Maryland for the third time in just over a month and defeated the Terrapins, 11-6, to reach the national title game for the second time in program history.
It was a rematch of the 2010 national championship showdown between Notre Dame and Duke and despite a late surge by the Irish they fell 11-9 at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. The Fighting Irish finished the 2014 campaign with a 12-6 record. Kavanagh, O'Hara and junior short-stick defensive midfielder Jack Near copped All-America honors from the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA) in `14. O'Hara also was a USILA Scholar All-American, a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award and was one of six Notre Dame representatives on the All-ACC Academic Team.
The Irish carried momentum into the 2015 campaign, earning an ACC regular season title with a perfect 4-0 conference standing. Of note on the defensive side, junior Matt Landis was named the 2015 ACC Defensive Player of the Year. Landis also received the William C. Schmeisser Award provided by the USILA, which is afforded to the nation's top player on defense. In all, a program-record seven student-athletes garnered USILA All-America recognition.
Notre Dame once again advanced to Championship Weeekend in 2015. After downing Towson (12-10) and Albany (14-10) to reach the NCAA semifinals, Notre Dame dropped an 11-10 overtime heartbreaker to Denver.
In 2013, the second-seeded Fighting Irish bested Detroit, 9-7, in the opening round of the NCAAs to advance to the quarterfinals. Notre Dame fell to eventual national champion Duke, 12-11, in the quarterfinals. Kavanagh combined for seven goals and three assists in the two NCAA tournament games and finished the season with 32 goals, which established a program record for a freshman. He was one of four Fighting Irish players to earn All-America accolades from the USILA in `13. Senior goalie John Kemp copped All-America honors for the third straight season, while senior defenseman Matt Miller and junior midfielder Jim Marlatt both received their second citation.
Notre Dame garnered the No. 4 seed for the 2012 NCAA Championship and the tournament run began with a 13-7 home victory over Yale and then the Irish knocked off fifth-seeded Virginia, 12-10, in the quarterfinals to advance to the national semifinals for the third time in school history. A 7-5 setback to Loyola, the eventual champion, ended Notre Dame's bid for its first national title.
Kemp and senior defenseman Kevin Randall earned first-team All-America honors from the USILA in `12. That duo also took home BIG EAST awards as Kemp was named the conference's goalkeeper of the year and Randall was tapped as the defensive player of the year. They were among six Irish student-athletes that copped all-BIG EAST accolades. Also in that group were Marlatt and Miller, who were honorable mention All-America honorees in `12.
Randall also was a finalist for the Lowe's Senior CLASS Award, a USILA Scholar All-American and received the BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete Sport Excellence Award. Kemp's first team All-America citation earned him the Ensign C. Markland Kelly, Jr. Award, which is presented annually to the nation's top goalie. He joined his older brother Joey, the 2008 recipient, as the only other Notre Dame player to cop the award. They are the only brother duo to receive the award, which has been presented since 1949.
The No. 1 ranking was not the only program standard established during the `11 season. Notre Dame also produced a then program-record six USILA All-America honorees. Midfielder David Earl and defenseman Kevin Ridgway both were first-team selections, making it the first time Notre Dame ever had two first team All-Americans in the same season. Zach Brenneman (M), Sam Barnes (D), Andrew Irving (LSM) and John Kemp (G) rounded out the honorees. Earl, the league's midfielder of the year, headlined a group of six all-BIG EAST performers for the Fighting Irish. Barnes, Brenneman, Earl, Irving and Ridgway also were selected in the `11 MLL Draft.
Notre Dame's 9-0 start in `11 helped the team earn the No. 1 national ranking in both the Nike/Inside Lacrosse media poll and the USILA coaches' poll on April 18. The Irish would improve to 10-0 before suffering their first loss of the campaign. The Irish were seeded fourth for the `11 NCAA Championship and they played host to Penn in the first round. The 13-6 win over Penn set up a quarterfinal showdown with Duke. The Blue Devils avenged a 12-7 season-opening loss to the Irish with a 7-5 victory. The Irish finished the `11 campaign with an 11-3 mark and ranked eighth in the final Nike/Inside Lacrosse poll.
Stout defense was a key reason why the Fighting Irish had unprecedented success in the `10 NCAA Championship. Notre Dame took down five top-10 foes during the `10 campaign, including three straight during the run to the national title game. After a 7-6 regular season, the Fighting Irish earned an at-large berth to the NCAAs and a trip to sixth-ranked Princeton in the first round. After downing the Tigers, 8-5, Notre Dame defeated No. 3 Maryland, 7-5, to advance to the national semifinals at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md.
The sensational run continued as the Irish bested seventh-ranked Cornell 12-7 to set up a showdown with Duke in the final. Notre Dame opened the `10 season with an 11-7 win at then No. 2 Duke, yet the Blue Devils prevailed in the second meeting by taking the back-and-forth contest 6-5 in overtime.
Senior goalie Scott Rodgers was named the Most Outstanding Player of the `10 NCAA Championship, becoming just the fifth player to earn that honor from a team that did not win the title. Rodgers and the Notre Dame defense allowed just 23 goals (5.75 per game) during the four games of the tournament. For the season, Rodgers ranked first nationally in save percentage (.605) and was third in goals-against average (.7.56).
Ridgway and Brenneman joined Rodgers on the NCAA Championship All-Tournament Team and they were three of the five Fighting Irish players to earn both honorable mention All-America honors from the USILA and all-conference accolades during the first season of BIG EAST lacrosse. Earl and Grant Krebs (M) joined the trio by receiving both national and league recognition.
The `09 Irish squad posted the first undefeated regular season in program history and finished with an overall record of 15-1. The win total and winning percentage (.938) from that campaign are program records. Notre Dame received the `09 GWLL coaching staff of the year award, making it the second time in three seasons that the Irish staff garnered the accolade.
The Fighting Irish had five players receive All-America honors in `09. Among the All-America selections were Rodgers, who also was named the GWLL Player of the Year, and defensemen Barnes and Regis McDermott. Those three were among a group of eight Irish players that copped all-GWLL accolades during the season. The Long Island Lizards selected McDermott in the third round of the `09 MLL Draft.
After completing a 13-0 regular season, the Irish captured their second consecutive GWLL tournament and received the No. 7 seed for the 2009 NCAA Championship, yet fell to Maryland, 7-3, in the first round.
In `08, Notre Dame compiled a 14-3 record, including a 4-1 GWLL mark to tie for first. The sixth-seeded Fighting Irish made the most of their first-ever NCAA tournament home game by defeating Colgate 8-7 in overtime to advance to the quarterfinals, where they were topped by eventual national champion Syracuse, 11-9. Notre Dame concluded the season ranked fifth in the final USILA poll.
The Irish defense came through when it counted most during the `08 campaign. In the title game of the inaugural GWLL tournament, Notre Dame, behind a stellar effort from senior goalie Joey Kemp, shut down #10 Ohio State in a 9-2 triumph to give the Irish the title. On the season, Notre Dame held its competition to six goals or fewer eight times.
Four Irish players, including Kemp and defenseman Sean Dougherty, were tabbed as All-Americans in `08. Kemp became the first goalie in Irish history to be named a first-teamer and Dougherty was a third-team pick. Fellow defenseman Ross Zimmerman received first team all-GWLL honors as he helped the Irish to a three-way tie for the league's regular-season title. In all, six Irish players garnered all-league accolades in `08. Following the season, Dougherty, Kemp and Zimmerman all were drafted into the MLL.
Another piece of hardware that the `08 Irish squad received was the Trophy Award at Notre Dame's seventh annual O.S.C.A.R.S. (Outstanding Student-Athletes Celebrating Achievements and Recognition Showcase). Established by the Office of Student Welfare and Development at Notre Dame, The Trophy Award annually recognizes an athletic team that has demonstrated its commitment and dedication to the community through unparalleled community service to Notre Dame and South Bend. The Irish have been very active in the South Bend area, including a mentorship programs at various schools in the area.
In his first season back with the Irish in `07, Byrne helped guide a Notre Dame defensive unit that held opponents to a then program-record 6.66 goals per game, which ranked fourth nationally. The defense played a large role in the Irish posting an 11-4 record overall, including a perfect 5-0 conference mark to win its first outright GWLL title since 2001.
The `07 season saw five Fighting Irish players earn All-America honors. Juniors Dougherty and Kemp were two of those honorees that helped to bolster the stingy Notre Dame defense. Kemp also was named the GWLL Player of the Year and was selected to the all-league first team along with Dougherty, while Zimmerman was tabbed as a second-team all-GWLL performer. The Irish coaching staff also was recognized as the GWLL's staff of the year.
Byrne graduated cum laude from UMass Amherst in 1986 with a degree in economics. He was a two-year starter and a three-year letterman in addition to being an All-New England defenseman for the Minutemen in 1986. He was a starter in two NCAA tournament games, including the `86 quarterfinals versus Johns Hopkins.
He earned his MBA from Notre Dame, where he also worked as defensive coordinator for the Fighting Irish. Byrne helped Notre Dame earn its first NCAA tournament berth during the 1990 campaign as the Irish posted a 9-7 record, including a perfect 3-0 mark in the MLA's Great Lakes Conference, which gave them the league title.
Byrne was a four-time All-United States Club Lacrosse Association member with the Brine Lacrosse Club. He was also invited to tryout with the U.S. National Team on three occasions (1989, 1997, 2001), which placed him among the top-30 defensemen in the nation. Other playing accolades for Byrne include being named an All-Lake Placid Classic performer on 11 occasions and an All-Vail Shootout competitor nine times.
One of his signature years as a player came in `97. That season he was named a Vail Shootout All-Star in the Elite Division along with copping Vail Shootout MVP honors in the Masters Division. Byrne also was named the Lake Placid Tournament Defensive MVP in the Elite Division and was chosen as the Masters Division MVP. Finally, he was invited to the National Team Selection Camp and was the USCLA/Empire League Player of the Year for the Syracuse Lacrosse Club.
Byrne was inducted into the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame - New England Chapter - in 1999 and was the 2001 New Hampshire High School Coach of the Year while at Souhegan High School. He was drafted by the New York Saints of the National Lacrosse League (NLL) in 1991 and played for them in 1992. Byrne also was drafted by the Rochester Knighthawks of the NLL as a defensive forward and went on to win a World Championship with them in 1997.
He continued his professional career following a three-year retirement when the Boston Cannons of the MLL drafted him in 2000. Byrne played for the Cannons from 2000-02, while having the distinction of being the oldest active player in the league at that time. He played in the inaugural MLL Final Four in `01 and made another appearance there the following season.
In addition to his duties at Saint Anselm, Byrne stayed active in the sporting world in several other ways. He served as managing director at Kiltegan Marketing Group, which is an integrated sports marketing services company with clients such as Reebok and the MLL. Byrne also has spent time as the director of marketing for Cybex International and Brine, a major manufacturer of lacrosse equipment. He also owns the Premier Players Lacrosse Camps and is the founder of the Texas Top-99.
Byrne is a native of Levittown, N.Y., where he was an All-Long Island Catholic League lacrosse player at Chaminade High School before his graduation in 1982. He and his wife, Dr. Tracy Byrne, a practicing OB/GYN and a 1990 graduate of Notre Dame, are the parents of three children, Rory, Pierre and Brandon. Pierre is a senior on the Notre Dame men's lacrosse team, while Rory is in her senior year at Notre Dame.