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Loss strikes down Irish

Adam Llorens | Monday, September 5, 2011

High expectations only make the fall that much harder.

Saturday’s 23-20 loss to South Florida was disheartening both for freshmen experiencing their very first game and for seniors feeling the sting of defeat all over again.

Senior David Mahin has gone through some tough seasons as a Notre Dame student but thought things would be different this year.

He said he was let down by Saturday’s performance.

“It felt like we lost three times,” he said.

For freshmen like Todd Hagist, the defeat was also tough.  

“I had high hopes for this season, but losing to South Florida made me think we are going to lose every game this season,” Hagist said. “The storm clouds seemed like an omen for a legendary Notre Dame comeback for the ages, but it never came to fruition.”

After a disappointing first half, Saturday’s game was paused due to severe weather warnings, and fans were asked to seek shelter in various buildings around campus.

According to Notre Dame Sports Information, Saturday’s evacuation was the first weather-related evacuation in stadium history.

NCAA policies require evacuation if lightning strikes within 10 miles of the stadium.

While the game was paused, the University made frequent announcements to make sure fans knew when severe weather conditions were approaching.

Two hours later, the game resumed, only to be delayed again with 4:21 left on the clock in the fourth quarter.

Sophomore Kelsey Han said she understood why the University would want to take such safety precautions.

“It was a smart move on the administration’s part to take precaution,” she said. “Besides, it felt good because then I could go back to my dorm and watch other compelling college games.”

But she said it was a “slap in the face” to return to the stadium for a third time, only to watch the team lose to South Florida.

“It felt like someone stabbed me with a knife and twisted it to give me a slow, painful death,” she said.

Sophomore Wendy Hatch noticed the rise and fall of students’ enthusiasm during the game.

“It started out really energetic,” she said. “Everyone was into it and cheering, but toward the end of the game everyone was getting really discouraged.”

For Hatch, the inclement weather made the loss more difficult.

“No one ever feels good about losing, but it definitely made it harder after it was raining,” she said. “The fact that it was a six hour game makes it all the harder to lose.”

 Junior Ryan Oldenburg said he was expecting much more from the football team.

“In short, I was frustrated and surprised,” he said. “I was surprised that we had all the time to prepare and I thought we would have a better showing, especially against a team like South Florida.”

But Oldenburg is confident in Notre Dame’s ability to have a good season.

“We have had a slow start but we must come off of this loss,” Oldenburg said. “The next couple of games are crucial.”

Hagist said the disappointing loss did not ruin the unique atmosphere of Notre Dame Stadium.

“It was an amazing experience,” he said. “I did not expect it to be as mentally and physically exhausting as it was, as I had to keep up my gameday spirit for seven hours.”

Han added the stadium maintained its special atmosphere despite the dip in morale.

“It had the ‘we’re-here-for-our-team’ type of feel to it, as students had faith and hope,” she said.