Things to know about each tri-campus sports team this year
Aidan Thomas | Friday, August 19, 2022
There’s a new sheriff on the diamond. Former VCU head coach Shawn Stiffler replaces Link Jarrett, who brought the Irish back to national relevancy over the past three years. This team went to the College World Series last year and returns four fifth-year starters to their lineup. They add two transfers, Blake Hely and Carter Busch, and a top-100 prospect, David Lally, on the mound.
The Irish lost three of their top seven players from last year’s NCAA Tournament team, but early signs say this could be another special season for the Irish. Dane Goodwin, Nate Laszewski and Cormac Ryan return with postseason experience. Top-20 recruit JJ Starling is ready to electrify Purcell Pavilion in his first (and only?) collegiate season, and Mike Brey is back to lead the squad — and fire up a few student sections along the way.
This is a national championship-caliber team. They’ll get tested early at home against Maryland and UConn, so we’ll see if those hopes are realistic. But Olivia Miles and Sonia Citron are truly dynamic talents, and fifth-year Dara Mabrey returns as well. Niele Ivey added three transfers — Jenna Brown, Kylee Watson and Lauren Ebo – to complement highly touted freshman KK Bransford.
Senior Olivia Markezich returns after an All-ACC season. Junior Joshua Menther and senior Jake Renfree highlight the All-ACC returners for the men. Both squads will look to return to the NCAA championships, while the men will aim for a third-straight ACC title.
Speaking of three-peats, the Irish fencing squad is looking for one of their own, on the national level. The two-time defending national champs are back at it. On the women’s side, junior epeeist Kaylin Hsieh looks to defend her individual title. Junior saber Atara Greenbaum and senior foilist Amita Berthier were national runners-up in their events last year. For the men, junior saber Luke Linder and senior foilist Hunter Candreva return after top-8 individual finishes last year.
The Freeman Era gets underway in Columbus, Ohio against the Buckeyes. Enjoy the final season of Michael Mayer, possibly the greatest tight end in Notre Dame history. Enjoy watching one of the best pass rushers in the country in Isaiah Foskey. And let’s see if Marcus Freeman’s first season can match what has been an incredible first summer.
Taichi Kho and Palmer Jackson are two of the best three golfers by stroke average in program history. They return to lead the squad this year, as the Irish look to break their NCAA regional curse after falling short again last season.
While the women’s team didn’t qualify for the NCAA Tournament, rising junior Chloe Schiavone did in 2022. She finished 19th at the event and returns to lead the squad this season. She posted four top-ten finishes last spring. The Irish also get back senior Lauren Beaudreau after her season ended after just four events last year.
On ice, Notre Dame returned to the Elite Eight last season, and they should be knocking on the door of the Frozen Four again in 2022-23. Ryder Rolston, Landon Slaggert and Nick Leivermann lead the squad, with Ryan Bischel ready to backstop the squad between the pipes. Notre Dame added four transfers, including a pair of forwards that combined for 21 goals last season to compensate for losing leading scorer Max Ellis.
The thing to know is what graduate student midfielder Quinn McCahon tweeted.
“It’s a vengeance tour next year for @NDlacrosse. We will be back even better than before. That all stems from the people in the locker room and the relationships we made. It’s going to be a scary sight and I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
After ending the year red-hot and being snubbed from the NCAA Tournament, the Irish return a whole bunch of talent and are ready for that vengeance tour.
The Irish women got hot at the right time last year, winning four of their final five regular season games and upsetting Duke in the ACC quarterfinals to crash the NCAA Tournament field. Now that team that gelled returns their trio of junior stars. Madison Ahern, Jackie Wolak and Kasey Choma combined for 156 goals and 59 assists in 2021. They’re all back and looking to advance further into the postseason.
This senior class of the Irish rowing squad has been through tough times. A deep and talented class saw their development halted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but they returned to action last year. It’s a class of 22 rowers. Aidan McIntyre and Taylor Robinson headline the first varsity four, while coxswain Katie Greed works alongside classmates Adelaide Lammers, Erin Maron, Morgan Gantt, Maddie Means, Elizabeth May and Victoria Gevaudan in the first varsity eight. With plenty of returning talent, the Irish will look for improved results this spring.
The Irish tasted the College Cup stage last year, reaching the Final Four. They fell in penalty kicks to the eventual national champion, Clemson but now, they’re back with a core of young contributors. Although replacing their top-two goal-scorers, Notre Dame returns sophomores Matthew Roou and Eno Nto, who combined for 12 goals. Jack-of-all-trades junior defender Paddy Burns makes his return to the Irish alongside fellow defenders Mo Williams and Josh Ramsey. Junior keeper Bryan Dowd returns after posting ten shutouts last season, and Notre Dame is eyeing the ultimate prize this year.
Midfielder Korbin Albert might be the best sophomore in the country. Additionally, senior midfielder Maddie Mercado and graduate student forward Olivia Wingate return, giving the Irish three of their top-four goal-scorers from last year’s Sweet 16 squad. With two established keepers rostered, Ashley Naylor and Northwestern transfer Mackenzie Wood, Along the back line, the Irish have three defenders that combined for 65 starts in 2021, plus they added Nebraska transfer Ashley Zugay. This team is hunting a College Cup appearance.
The long hunt for a Super Regional continues, as the Irish have made every NCAA Tournament since 1999. However, they’re yet to advance out of the regional round. This year, they return two of their three pitchers in Payton Tidd and Shannon Becker, along with ACC player of the year Karina Gaskins. Notre Dame must replace Abby Sweet and Emma Clark in the outfield and at the top of their order, but otherwise, they return most of their everyday lineup and have another shot at breaking their drought in 2023.
Swimming & Diving
After competing much of last season without a coach, the Irish have a new staff in place, hoping to bring this roster to new heights. The men finished 33rd at last year’s NCAA Championships, while the women finished 31st. Sophomore diver Caroline Brady leads the women’s squad after qualifying for the NCAA Tournament last year. The men return the entirety of their NCAA-qualifying 200 and 400-yard freestyle relay teams among six returning NCAA qualifiers.
The Irish lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last season, but they return about half of their main singles lineup. Seniors Matthew Che and Connor Fu are likely to take over the top singles flights after spending most of last year at #3 and #4. The duo combined for a 12-6 record in ACC play. Senior Braeden Ho may see an increased role after playing four ACC singles matchups last year, and senior Matthew Halpin returns after being a staple in the doubles lineup last season.
The Irish return basically their entire lineup this year and should be looking for a NCAA Tournament berth. Last year, the Irish entered the ACC Tournament ranked 42nd and on the bubble, so they’ll look to take the next step this year with a veteran lineup.
Track & Field
An Irish record-holder in the shot put, junior Michael Shoaf returns to throw for the Irish this year. He highlights the men’s top returners after a top-20 national finish last year. Senior Olivia Markezich leads the woman’s program back into action after a top-10 NCAA finish in the steeplechase last spring.
Noter Dame debuts a brand-new coaching staff, and they’ve added some new talent to help with some roster losses. They sit in 4th in the preseason ACC poll and should be competing for a NCAA Tournament berth.
Senior forward Jill Bowen looks to step up as the team’s top offensive threat after posting four goals and an assist last fall. The Belles struggled offensively in conference play and look to rectify that and move up the standings in 2022. Sophomore Kara Stacey posted five shutouts as a freshman last year and aims to anchor the defense.
Junior Colleen McCarthy paced the Belles a year ago as they tied for sixth in the conference. She returns after leading the team in both kills and digs, and she’ll be a force on the court. Behind her production, Saint Mary’s will aim to close the three-game gap between their record last year and a conference tournament berth.
Saint Mary’s returns six of their seven scoring runners from the NCAA Regionals last year and should be competitive in a loaded conference. Juniors Haley Greene and Amanda Tracy finished last season’s efforts with personal-bests at the NCAA Regionals, and they’ll lead the way once more.
Sophomore forward Julia Schutz led the Belles in scoring and rebounds per game last year, so she’ll be back on the court this winter. Saint Mary’s finished seventh in a tough MIAA with national powers Hope and Trine. With most of their talent returning, the Belles are eyeing a jump in the standings.
The Belles enter this year looking for a third straight conference title and NCAA Tournament berth. Saint Mary’s graduated a lot of talent, but senior Erin Dotson returns after a 43-goal junior season. Underclassmen Julia Gorski and Christiana Singler will look to step up to help fill some of the scoring void, as Saint Mary’s looks to continue the best stretch in program history.
The Belles return most of the production from last year’s young 7-9 team, and they’re looking to jump up to that next level. The Belles went 0-8 against the top four teams in the MIAA but 7-1 against all other conference foes. A few wins against those top squads, and the Belles could challenge for a tournament berth. Sophomore Alexis Rauch leads the charge after hitting .379 with 23 RBI as a freshman.
The Belles return four members of last year’s singles lineup, with three seniors making for an experienced starting core this year. Senior Lucy Chamberlin and sophomore Alayna Campbell return at the top two singles spots. They’ll also return as the Belles’ best doubles tandem and look to boost Saint Mary’s back into the conference tournament.
Saint Mary’s golf dominated MIAA action last spring, setting several conference records en route to a championship. They finished 22nd at the NCAAs and after losing just one contributor, they look to improve on that finish and make the top-15 cut at the NCAA Tournament this spring.
Holy Cross came up mere inches shy of a conference tournament berth, as their 6-5-2 conference record saw them fall a single point short of the requisite 21 points to nab the eighth seed. After coming ever so close, the Saints return a lot of production, headlined by leading goal scorer and junior Gabe Nyenka (10 goals, 7 assists in 2021).
The Saints return Olivia Shaw, the program’s all-time leading goal scorer, for her senior season. Last year, the Saints went 8-4-1 in CCAC play, falling in penalty kicks in the conference quarterfinals. Then-freshman Taylor Primack shone in that postseason defeat, recording 16 saves and anchoring the defense. The pair will lead this season as the Saints look to take a step forward.
Despite an 8-14 conference record in 2021-22, Holy Cross has some intriguing prospects on the court this year. They return a pair of sophomores that made the CCAC All-Freshman Team in Justin O’Neal and Nash Hostetler. The CCAC features three teams that finished ranked last season, so it’s a tough climb but a manageable one for a young Saints squad.
A 10-12 conference record was enough for the Saints to nab the 7th seed in the CCAC Tournament last year. All three players who garnered postseason honors return, including the conference Freshman of the Year in Jordyn Smith. Senior Jayda Miller returns as the leading scorer and one of seven 1000-point scorers in Holy Cross history.
While the Saints hunt a team berth into the NAIA National Tournament, they return Colin Todora, a senior who qualified as an individual last year. With the 2022 CCAC conference champion anchoring the lineup, Holy Cross looks to compete for a conference title in the spring.
With a roster of just five players, Holy Cross still competed throughout the spring and boasts a returning All-Conference golfer in Annika Johnson. The junior will lead the Saints roster, now up to seven players, back into action this season with three freshmen and two sophomores making up most of the roster.
Holy Cross tennis courts will host one of the top players in the NAIA this spring, with sophomore Perry Gregg returning to action. After going 11-0 at No. 1 singles and 9-1 at No. 1 doubles, Gregg finished the year ranked 6th in the country. He led the Saints into the Top-25 and to a conference championship berth. They’ll be seeking to take the next step this spring.
Helga Lopez returns as the defending CCAC player of the year, alongside CCAC freshman of the year Bente Burgersdijk. They’re joined by fellow all-CCAC selection Anna Beer, as that trio looks to improve on their 3-3 conference record and fourth-place finish from last spring.