Notre Dame is preparing to face Cornell in the national semifinals at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday.
Brian Fisher is entering his sixth season as an assistant coach for the Notre Dame men's lacrosse team in 2012. Fisher joined the Fighting Irish from his alma mater, Rutgers University, where he was an assistant coach for five seasons.
Notre Dame has been very successful since Fisher arrived on campus. The Fighting Irish have a 61-18 record (.772) and they have earned an NCAA Championship berth all five seasons. In 2010, Notre Dame advanced to the title game of the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history. The Irish also reached the quarterfinal round in 2008 and 2011. Notre Dame received one of the eight national seeds and a first-round home game during the `08, 2009 and `11 tournaments.
Fisher also helped guide the Irish to 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. Notre Dame head coach Kevin Corrigan along with Fisher and fellow assistant coach Gerry Byrne received the GWLL coaching staff of the year award in 2007 and 2009.
Notre Dame has produced 25 All-America and 33 all-conference selections along with 17 Major League Lacrosse (MLL) draft picks over the past four seasons.
Among other duties, Fisher works with the Fighting Irish faceoff unit, which has been one of the best in the country over the past five campaigns. Notre Dame ranked ninth in the nation in faceoff winning percentage in `09 with a .556 mark. That fact was even more remarkable as the Irish had to fill the void of losing Taylor Clagett, one of the top faceoff men in the country, to graduation in 2008. Notre Dame ranked second nationally in 2008 with a .628 winning percentage. Notre Dame was 15th in the nation in that category during Fisher's first season with the Irish. The Fighting Irish were 17th nationally in faceoff percentage in `10 and `11.
The last four seasons has witnessed the Fighting Irish achieve unprecedented success within the program. 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 2011 regular season.
Along with reaching No. 1 in the national polls, Notre Dame boasted a program-record six All-America honorees in `11. Midfielder David Earl and defenseman Kevin Ridgway both copped first-team All-America accolades from the United States Intercollegiate Lacrosse Association (USILA). That signified the first time in program history that the Irish produced two first-team All-Americans. Zach Brenneman (M), Sam Barnes (D), Andrew Irving (LSM) and John Kemp (G) rounded out the record number of Irish 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, which occurred prior to the '11 campaign.
A 9-0 start to the `11 campaign helped the Fighting Irish earn the No. 1 national ranking in both the Nike/Inside Lacrosse media poll and the USILA coaches' poll on April 18. Notre Dame improved to 10-0 before suffering its first setback of the season.
For the third time in four seasons, Notre Dame garnered one of the eight national seeds for the NCAA Championship. The Irish were seeded fourth, which signified the highest seed in school history, 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, while the 13 goals matched the most scored by Notre Dame in an NCAA game.
The win over Penn propelled the Fighting Irish into the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament for the third time since Fisher had been at Notre Dame. Duke avenged a 12-7 season-opening loss to the Irish as the Blue Devils captured a 7-5 quarterfinal victory. The Irish finished the 2011 season with an 11-3 mark and ranked eighth in the final Nike/Inside Lacrosse poll.
The Irish defense ranked second nationally in 2011 by allowing just 6.57 goals per game. Kemp finished second in the country in goals-against average (6.61) and was fourth in save percentage (.602).
In `10, Notre Dame defeated five top-10 foes, including three straight during the run to the national title game. After a 7-6 regular season, the Fighting Irish gained an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament 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 postseason 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 campaign 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. The Irish won 53.6% of their faceoff attempts during the `10 NCAA tournament.
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 allowed just 23 goals (5.75 per game) during the four games of the tournament. For the season, Notre Dame ranked second nationally in team defense by surrendering just 7.53 goals per game.
Brenneman and Ridgway 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. Grant Krebs (M) and Earl joined the trio by receiving both national and league recognition.
Notre Dame enjoyed unprecedented success in `09 as the Irish posted the first undefeated regular season in program history and finished with an overall record of 15-1. The win total and winning percentage from that campaign are program records. Notre Dame ranked first among all NCAA Division I teams with a school-record 6.19 goals-against average and tied for 10th in goals per game (11.00).
The Fighting Irish also had five players receive All-America honors in `09. Among the All-America selections was Rodgers, who also was named the GWLL Player of the Year. Joining Rodgers on the USILA All-America third team were seniors Ryan Hoff (A) and Regis McDermott (D). Barnes and Krebs were honorable mention picks. Those five student-athletes were among a program-record tying seven first-team all-GWLL selections.
After compiling a 13-0 regular season in `09, the Irish defeated Quinnipiac and Ohio State to capture the GWLL tournament. The Irish received the No. 7 seed for the 2009 NCAA Championship, yet fell to Maryland, 7-3, in the first round to end the historic run.
An NCAA Championship quarterfinal appearance was just one of the highlights of the `08 campaign. Notre Dame posted a 14-3 mark, including a 4-1 league record to tie for first, and won the inaugural GWLL tournament. The Irish ranked fifth nationally in both goals-against average (7.04) and goals scored per game (12.09). Notre Dame concluded the season ranked fifth in the final USILA poll.
The sixth-seeded Fighting Irish made the most of their first-ever NCAA home game by topping Colgate 8-7 in overtime, but Notre Dame was tripped up in the quarterfinals by Syracuse, 11-9.
Notre Dame boasted four All-Americans in `08. Senior Joey Kemp became the first goalie in program history to be named a first-teamer as he received the 2008 Kelly Award for Outstanding Goalie in Division I from the USILA. Senior defenseman Sean Dougherty was a third-team selection, while senior midfielder Michael Podgajny and Hoff were honorable mention picks. Hoff became just the second player in program history to notch back-to-back 40 goal seasons. He tallied 40 as a sophomore and followed it with 41 in `08. Hoff concluded his career in `09 second on Notre Dame's all-time goals scored list with 134 tallies. The quartet of Irish All-Americans was among a group of six that copped all-conference accolades in `08.
Another piece of hardware that the 2008 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 program at Jefferson Middle School.
In `07, Fisher helped the Fighting Irish post an 11-4 record, which included a perfect 5-0 mark in conference play as Notre Dame captured its first outright GWLL title since 2001. The Irish fell to eventual national champion Johns Hopkins, 11-10, in an overtime thriller during the first round of the NCAA Championship. As a team, Notre Dame ranked fourth nationally in both scoring offense (11.65) and scoring defense (6.66). Notre Dame concluded the season ranked 11th in the final USILA poll.
Receiving honorable-mention All-America honors following the '07 season were Brian Hubschmann (M/A), Dougherty, Kemp, Podgajny and Will Yeatman (A). The Irish also had eight players cop all-GWLL accolades, including Kemp, who was the league's player of the year, and Yeatman, the newcomer of the year.
Fisher was a standout midfielder and faceoff man for the Scarlet Knights for four seasons (1998-2001). As a coach at Rutgers, he worked extensively with the Scarlet Knight midfielders and was the assistant director of MVP Lacrosse Camps.
Fisher was one of the top faceoff men in the nation throughout his Rutgers career. He won 268-of-533 (.502) faceoffs in his career. In `01, as the team's faceoff specialist, he took 76 percent of the teams faceoffs, winning 120-of-232 (.517) of them. He also led the Scarlet Knights with 69 ground balls.
Fisher was awarded the Rutgers Lacrosse Knight Cup in `01. The Cup goes to the player "who has played the game of lacrosse to the best of his ability, who has, by example, inspired or led his teammates both on and off the field and, who, above all, has con-sistently demonstrated the qualities of un- selfishness and loyalty to his team and Rutgers University." That same season he was named the Rutgers Lacrosse Time Scholar-Athlete.
The Morton, Pa. native also was awarded the 2000 Frederick Fitch Trophy while at Rutgers. The honor is presented to the varsity letterwinner who, through personal effort to develop his lacrosse ability, has shown the greatest improvement during the season.
Fisher was a key member of the Ridley High School team that won the Pennsylvania State Championship in 1997. During his career at Ridley, his team compiled a 56-7 record. He was also captain of his wrestling team in high school.
Fisher married the former Lauren Vader from South Orange, N.J. on December 19, 2008, in the Caribbean. Lauren teaches seventh grade social studies at Marshall Middle School in South Bend. The couple has a daughter, Finley Elizabeth, who was born in October of 2011.