April 3, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Former Notre Dame soccer player Joseph Lapira (Lake Charles, La./Saint Louis Catholic) has recently signed a professional contract with Nybergsund of the Adeccoligaen (second division) in Norway. Lapira, a two-time All-American, completed his stellar four-year Irish career this past fall. The Nybergsund season begins this weekend.
Lapira was chosen with the 35th pick overall by the Toronto FC in the 2008 Major League Soccer SuperDraft in January, yet opted to pursue a professional career overseas. The 2008 Norwegian season kicked off last weekend with a record 13 Americans on the rosters of pro clubs in the top two divisions.
Lapira is no stranger to international soccer as he played with the Ireland National Team in a match against Ecuador at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. last May. He became the first amateur to play for Ireland since 1964. Lapira was able to compete with the Ireland squad because his mother is a native of the country. In addition to his experience with the Ireland team, Lapira spent time training with the Glasgow Rangers of the Scottish Premier League and Derby County of the English Premier League last summer.
In 2007, Lapira earned first-team All-America honors for the second straight season as he led the Fighting Irish in scoring for the third straight year by totaling 28 points on nine goals and 10 assists. The forward concluded his Notre Dame career fifth in program history in both goals (41) and points (105). He also holds the school record for goals in NCAA Championship play with six. Lapira tallied two goals during this season's NCAA Tournament as he helped the Irish reach the quarterfinals for the second straight year.
The 2006 season was a breakout campaign for Lapira. He led all NCAA Division I men's players with 22 goals and 50 points en route to winning the Missouri Athletic Club (M.A.C.) Hermann Trophy as the nation's top player. He also became the program's first unanimous first-team All-American.