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State of the Irish

Editor’s Note: Sammie McCarthy, Nate Moller and Aidan Thomas contributed to this report

After a week away from campus for Irish students, here’s a look at how the Notre Dame teams did over fall break.

Notre Dame volleyball goes 2-2

It was home cooking for the Irish volleyball squad, as head coach Salima Rockwell’s squad picked up a pair of victories against Wake Forest and Virginia Tech. The Irish pulled out a five-setter against the Demon Deacons on Friday, Oct. 14, and followed up with a four-set win over the Hokies on Oct. 16.

The win over the Hokies was expected, as Virginia Tech resides at the bottom of the conference standings. However, Wake Forest entered the contest slightly above the Irish in the standings, so the five-set victory was a crucial pick-up for Notre Dame. Sophomore outside hitter Paris Thompson led the way with 15 kills. Thompson added 16 kills against Virginia Tech.

However, this past weekend brought the Irish back to earth. After four straight ACC wins, Notre Dame ran into a buzzsaw of a Pittsburgh team. The Panthers are 10-0 in conference play, 20-2 overall, and they dismantled the Irish in three straight sets. Notre Dame then traveled to take on cellar-dwellers Virginia. It resulted in a stunning defeat for the Irish, who lost in three straight sets. In set three, Notre Dame lost the final nine points of the game, limping out of Charlottesville with a season that is spiraling fast. The Irish sit at 4-6 in conference play and in tenth place in the conference. They face second-place Louisville on Wednesday and 11th-place Duke on Sunday as they try to turn it around.

Notre Dame men’s soccer

Both the Notre Dame men’s and women’s soccer teams performed well over fall break. The men’s team won both of their games, one against the University of Illinois Chicago and the other against Virginia Tech. The women’s team also went undefeated over break, beating Louisville, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest. 

The men’s team started their successful week with a road win over the University of Illinois-Chicago. The Irish defeated UIC, which competes in the Missouri Valley Conference, 4-2. Notre Dame started strong with an early goal by sophomore forward Matthew Roou. The Flames quickly answered with a tying goal. Fellow Irish sophomore and defenseman Kyle Genenbacher scored another goal to put the Irish up 2-1 at the end of the first half. Roou scored a second goal early in the second half, followed by another goal by freshman defender Mitch Ferguson. The Flames scored a second goal late in the second half but could not defeat the Irish. 

Notre Dame earned another win three days later versus ACC opponent Virginia Tech. Notre  Dame junior defenseman Paddy Burns scored the only goal of the game to lead the Irish to a 1-0 win. Notre Dame men’s soccer is now 7-6-1 overall, and 3-4 in the ACC. They are ranked eighth in the ACC and fifth in the Coastal Division. All twelve ACC teams qualify for the tournament, and the top four teams earn a first-round bye. The Irish are looking to win their final two regular-season games against Michigan and Pitt. A win over Pitt could vault the Irish to third in the Coastal and a higher seed in the ACC tournament. Notre Dame men’s soccer takes on Michigan this Tuesday at 7 p.m. EST at Alumni Stadium.

Notre Dame women’s soccer

Notre Dame women’s soccer also had a successful week, defeating Louisville, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest in three consecutive road games. Not only did the Irish go undefeated over fall break, but they also did not give up a single goal.

The women’s team opened the week with a 2-0 road victory over Louisville. Senior forward Kiki Van  Zanten scored a goal in the first half and graduate student forward Olivia Wingate scored a goal in the second half to lead the Irish to victory. 

Next the Irish traveled to Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech. Notre Dame sophomore midfielder Korbin Albert scored the only goal of the game to earn the Irish another win. 

The Irish concluded fall break with a 3-0 win against Wake Forest in Winston-Salem. Albert continued her dominant week with two goals, one in the first half and one in the second half. Wingate contributed another goal late in the second half to secure a 3-0 win for the  Irish. 

After a rocky 1-2 start to conference play, the Irish have hit their stride and are consistently defeating some of the best competition in the nation. The team is ranked fifth in the country with a 14-2 overall record and first in the ACC with a 7-2 conference record. A win in their final conference game of the season against Duke will earn the Irish the top seed in the  ACC tournament.

If Notre Dame wins the conference championship, the team will automatically qualify for the NCAA tournament. Even if they do not, Notre Dame’s strong performance this season will almost certainly earn the team an at-large bid. 

Notre Dame takes on Duke, ranked fourth in the ACC and tenth in the country, this Thursday at Alumni Stadium. The game will be broadcasted on the ACC Network at 8 p.m. EST.

Notre Dame cross country

The men’s and women’s cross country teams competed a week and a half ago at the Wisconsin Nuttycombe Invitational. Despite facing multiple top-ten teams, both the men’s and women’s teams finished in fifth place. After the impressive performance, both teams are now ranked sixth in the country with a week to go before the ACC Championships.

On the men’s side, the Irish were led by sophomore Carter Solomon, who finished the 8k race in ninth place with a time of 23:23.4.

Head coach Matt Sparks has looked for someone to step up all season on the men’s side, and he was very impressed with Solomon’s performance in Wisconsin.

“Carter Solomon is the guy that is starting to rise to the top for us,” Sparks said. “We are trying to see him get out front and compete with the leaders throughout the race, and that was neat to see.”

Solomon was followed by freshman Izaiah Steury, who finished 28th with a time of 23:32.7.

Steury has been a huge part of the team all season, and Sparks has continued to be impressed with Steury’s execution in races.

“The other really exciting thing on the men’s side was Izaiah Steury,” Sparks said. “It was fun to see a freshman up there in the top-5 for us, and he was the top true freshman in the race, which bodes well for the future as well.”

Sophomore Josh Methner was the third Irish runner to cross the finish line with a time of 23:38.9. 

Last week’s meet was Methner’s first of the season, and Sparks expects Methner to improve and possibly be the team’s top runner by the end of the season.

“I expect to see him in the mix with Carter [Solomon] as we progress to the ACC championship,” Sparks said.

On the women’s side, the team found success in a pack with all five runners separated by just over 30 seconds. The top five for the Irish included junior Olivia Markezich, senior Katie Thronson, graduate student Anna Sophia Keller, sophomore Erin Strzelecki and sophomore Siona Chisholm. 

Sparks felt that everyone on the women’s team stepped up as expected.

“The women’s side came in as a holistic group. We are a veteran group with everyone from Olivia [Markezich] to our newcomer Siona Chisolm, who is a transfer from Canada,  and they all stepped up just as expected,” Sparks said.

Heading into the conference meet this weekend, Sparks hopes that graduate student Maddy Denner and senior Matthew Carmody can step up. Although neither runner was in the team’s top five in Wisconsin, both runners have proven themselves in years prior.

“We have two kids that we like to think are in our top five, but had off days and are improving,” Sparks said. “A year ago, Maddy [Denner] was our number one and Matthew [Carmody] has been in our top five the last couple of years. I expect both of them to make big impacts in the weeks to come,” Sparks said.

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