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Irish take care of Pitt with sweep in the pool

Michael Gotimer | Monday, November 3, 2008

Pittsburgh may have gotten the best of the Irish on Saturday in the Stadium, but Friday in the RAC was a different story.

Notre Dame men and women both defeated the Panthers in dual meets this weekend.

The men’s team pulled out a 152-148 victory against Pitt thanks to a late charge in a meet that came down to the final event.

“This was a very, very intense meet,” Irish coach Tim Welsh said.

The meet was in doubt heading into the final two events, but the Irish finished in first place in the final two events to come away with the win. In the 200-yard IM, Irish sophomore Michael Sullivan and junior MacKenzie LeBlanc earned a close 1-2 finish while sophomore Christopher Wills finished in fourth. Their performance gave Notre Dame 15 crucial points heading into the final event.

With the meet in the balance, Notre Dame sent its team of juniors John Lyttle and Andrew Hoffman and sophomores Joshua Nosal and Thomas Van Volkenburg to the blocks for the 400-yard freestyle relay. After Lyttle got the Irish an early lead in the first leg, his teammates held on to defeat the Panthers by just over two seconds.

“I’m so proud of our guys,” Welsh said, “When it absolutely, positively came down to the clutch, they knew the only way to win was to fight through those last events. I love that type of mental toughness and we can use that to build upon throughout the rest of this season.”

The Notre Dame Women’s team didn’t disappoint either as the No. 24 Irish cruised to a 223-77 victory over the Panthers.

The Irish dominated throughout, winning all 16 of the evening’s events. After sweeping every event at the Dennis Stark Relays, the Irish have yet to drop an event all year at their home pool.

“We’re not backing down from the competition,” Irish coach Brian Barnes said. “We came into this meet very tired and the team responded very well. At this point in the season, we’re more excited about our potential than anything, but there are plenty of promising things going on the pool right now.”

Five Notre Dame sophomores picked up two or more individual wins in the meet. Lauren Sylvester earned two wins in the distance freestyle events, winning by five seconds in the 500-yard freestyle and edged out Pitt’s Katie Curtell by just over a second in the 1,000-yard freestyle. Her classmate Katie Casey also claimed two wins in both the 200 and 100-yard butterfly while Lauren Parisi won the 200 and 100-yard backstroke events. Amywren Miller accomplished a noteworthy feat when she won the 50 and 100-yard freestyle sprint events by more than a second.

Not to be outdone by her classmates, Samantha Maxwell earned wins in the 100 and 200-yard breaststroke and the 200 IM.

The Notre Dame men and women resume action on Saturday when they take on Purdue.