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Seniors disappointed after another loss

| Monday, November 23, 2009

As spectators filed out of Notre Dame Stadium following the Fighting Irish’s double-overtime 33-30 loss to the Connecticut Huskies, Notre Dame’s senior class stayed in their seats, waiting for the chance to step onto the football field and exit through the tunnel.

Most seniors, like Michelle Maloney, had conflicting emotions about this opportunity to say goodbye to their time in the student section.

“Going onto the field was a really cool experience but definitely bittersweet as well,” Michelle Maloney said. “It just reminded me of how we’re going to be doing a lot of things for the last time from now on.”

To other seniors, getting to stand on the field was meaningless without a win to celebrate.
“After a loss on Senior Day and the terrible season we had I really just wanted to leave,” senior Tom Caruso said. “It was a nice gesture but it really lacked meaning without the win.”

The Class of 2010 has had a tough four years football-wise, beginning with a 9-3 season freshman year that culminated in a 41-14 loss to LSU in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, giving Notre Dame a record 9 consecutive bowl losses.

The Irish followed that loss up with a dismal 3-9 season in 2007. Last year, Notre Dame finished 6-6 and snapped their bowl-losing streak with a 49-21 rout of the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.

The Hawaii Bowl victory led many students to believe this season would go a great deal better than it actually has.

Senior Keith Ruehlmann said that his expectations for this season were much higher than what he has witnessed so far.

“I came into this season expecting a 10-2 season. Instead we’re probably going to finish 6-6,” Ruehlmann said. “To say I’m disappointed is an understatement.”

Ruehlmann said the reason Notre Dame lost is because of the problems that have plagued the team all season — poor defensive play.

“Our defense is porous at best and we cannot tackle,” he said. “I’m scared to think what [Stanford running back] Toby Gerhart is going to do to us next week.”

Maloney said she thought the Irish should have won the game because of the talent they have on their roster. She added the loss does not reflect well on head coach Charlie Weis’s job security.

“Considering the level of talent we have on our team, I absolutely think we should have won the game,” Maloney said. “It seems pretty clear that Weis needs to go.”

Even though this season has mostly been disappointing, seniors have found positive aspects despite the mounting losses. For senior Jessica McCarthy, it was Saturday’s halftime marshmallow fight.

“The best part was definitely the marshmallow fight,” McCarthy said “Although I do wish that someone had warned us about the way they would stick to the concrete afterwards.”

Maloney’s favorite memory is of the 2006 comeback win at Michigan State, where the Irish overcame a 16-point fourth-quarter deficit to stun the Spartans and win 40-37.

“One of my favorite football memories was the comeback at Michigan State freshman year,” Maloney said. “I wasn’t at the game, but after we won, everyone here on campus sprinted to Stonehenge and jumped in.”

Although their four years of football have been rocky, Notre Dame’s seniors are still finding things to miss about it. For Caruso, it is a connection with the football team that he said only comes with being a student.

“I’ll miss having that tie with the team that you don’t have as an alumnus,” he said. “Being this emotionally tied to the team is something I wish wasn’t coming to an end.”
Ruehlmann will miss the atmosphere on Friday afternoons when visitors are arriving on campus.

“I love walking around campus on Fridays of football weekends,” he said. “I’m going to miss that. To see so many alumni and fans already walking around campus always reminds me just how amazing this place is.”