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IRISH INSIDER: Hanks, Lapira win Hermann Trophy

Greg Arbogast | Monday, December 4, 2006

Across the board, Notre Dame took home a considerable amount of hardware this weekend. Sophomore forward Kerri Hanks won the Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy Award for the best Division I women’s college soccer player, and junior forward Joseph Lapira took home the same award on the men’s side. Together, they helped Notre Dame to become the first ever school to have players win both the men and women’s Hermann Trophy in the same season.”I think it’s pretty well known that Notre Dame has one of the best programs in the country, but this certainly reinforces that,” Irish men’s coach Bobby Clark said.As a sophomore, Hanks became the youngest player, male or female, to win the Hermann Trophy. She becomes the second player under current women’s coach Randy Waldrum to win the award and the third overall for the Notre Dame women’s program. Only North Carolina has had more players win the Hermann Trophy than the Irish. “I did not think I was going to win it,” Hanks said in a statement after receiving the award Saturday night in North Carolina, according to a und.com press release. “I can’t explain how thankful I am to my teammates. Without them, I would not be close to getting this award.” Through her first two seasons at Notre Dame, Hanks has tallied 136 points – only former SMU player Lisa Cole (147) and former UC Santa Barbara standout Carin Jennings (147) had more in their first two respective seasons.This past season, Hanks led the nation in both goals (22) and assists (21) becoming only the eleventh player in NCAA history to break 20 in both categories. Hanks joins former UNC and national team star Mia Hamm as the only players to ever lead the nation in both goals and assists, and Hanks hopes that the comparisons between the two players won’t end there. “It’s always been my goal to play for the national team,” Hanks said. “My time is not yet but hopefully it will come later. I think more about the team now than individually. To be the best player in the world is not something I am too worried about.” Lapira, who traveled to St. Louis this weekend to receive the Hermann Trophy at the Missouri Athletic Club, becomes the first player in the history of Notre Dame men’s soccer to ever win the award. Lapira beat out junior forward Charlie Davies of Boston College and SMU senior defender Jay Needham.”I’ve spent 20 plus years coaching in college soccer, and I’ve never had one of my players win player of the year, so obviously it’s a very special moment for this program,” Clark said. Lapira led the nation in both goals (22) and points (50) this season, but perhaps more impressively, he did it playing with an injured knee. Lapira tore his left lateral meniscus in the first game of the season against UAB, but he made a joint decision with Clark and the team’s training staff to put surgery off until after the season. For the last month, Lapira did not practice with the team, but rather spent time between the games working out in the trainer’s room. “Some would consider it nice not to practice, but it killed me to not be able to go out there and play in practice,” Lapira said. “It was kind of a day-to-day thing whether my knee would make it through or not.” Lapira tallied 11 game winning goals this season, one of which came on September 3, when he scored four goals in a 5-4 overtime victory against in-state rival Indiana. Later in During one stretch, Lapira scored in seven consecutive games, and in that stretch he had two goals each in five straight games. Lapira also scored the Irish’s only goals in their 1-0 wins over Illinois-Chicago and Maryland in the first two round of this year’s NCAA tournament. He also had an assist in Notre Dame’s 3-2 loss to Virginia in the quarterfinals. Although that loss came little over one week ago, Lapira has already started looking towards next season.”This was arguably the best season that Notre Dame has ever put together,” Lapira said. “Arguably, the reason we went so far was the leadership of our seniors, and we’re going to have to try and fill that hole next year.”