Get a taste of the Notre Dame Men's Lacrosse experience.
Gerry Byrne enters the seventh season of his second stint as an assistant coach for the Notre Dame men's lacrosse team in 2013. In 2007, Byrne returned to the Fighting Irish program, where he served as an assistant from 1989-91. Prior to his return to Notre Dame, he was the head coach at Saint Anselm College in Manchester, N.H. from 2003-06.
The Fighting Irish have enjoyed tremendous success since Byrne rejoined the staff. Notre Dame has posted a 74-21 record (.779) and the Irish have earned an NCAA tournament berth all six seasons. The Fighting Irish have advanced to Championship Weekend twice in the past three seasons, including the program's first national title game appearance in 2010.
Notre Dame is coming off a national semifinalist finish in 2012. Byrne also helped the Irish reach the quarterfinals in 2008 and 2011. Notre Dame received one of the eight national seeds and a first-round home game during the `08, '09, '11 and `12 tournaments.
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 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.
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.
Notre Dame has produced 29 All-America and 39 all-conference selections along with 21 Major League Lacrosse (MLL) draft picks over the past six seasons.
The Fighting Irish have reaped the benefits of Byrne's defensive knowledge. Over the last six seasons under Byrne's direction, the Notre Dame defense has been one of the best in the nation. The Irish are the only team in NCAA Division I to finish in the top five nationally in scoring defense in each of those six campaigns.
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 95 games), the Irish have limited opponents to seven goals or fewer 66 times. Notre Dame has limited foes to four goals or fewer 16 times during that stretch.
The last five seasons have witnessed the Fighting Irish achieve unprecedented success within the program and cement itself as one of the nation's top teams. Since the beginning of the `08 campaign, the Irish rank fourth nationally in wins (63) and they are fifth in winning percentage (.788).
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.
Notre Dame garnered the No. 4 seed for the '12 NCAA Championship. That seeding matched a program best that the Irish also earned the previous season. The '12 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.
Junior goalie John Kemp and senior defenseman Kevin Randall earned first team All-America honors from the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (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 midfielder Jim Marlatt and defenseman Matt Miller, who were honorable mention All-America honorees in `12.
Randall, who was picked by the Charlotte Hounds in the `12 MLL Draft, 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 program-record six USILA All-America honorees. Midfielder David Earl and defenseman Kevin Ridgway both were first team All-Americans, 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 Fighting Irish topped the Quakers, 13-6. The seven-goal margin of victory was the largest ever for the Irish in an NCAA tournament contest.
The 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 defeated Quinnipiac and Ohio State to capture their second consecutive GWLL tournament. The Irish 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.