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Fall in review: Top tri-campus players and performances in 2022

As the fall sports season draws to a close, The Observer awarded this year’s tri-campus All-Fall team, comprised of 11 players from teams across all three campuses. In addition, the Sports staff looked back at some of the top individual and team performances of the season. 

Michael Mayer, Notre Dame football

A PFF All-American, junior Michael Mayer became the Notre Dame tight end record holder in career receptions, yards and touchdowns. This season, Mayer notched 67 receptions for 809 yards and a career-high nine scores. He set season highs against BYU with 11 catches, 118 yards and two touchdowns. He added a second two-score game against USC in the season finale.

Olivia Markezich, Notre Dame cross country

Junior Olivia Markezich polished off a strong fall season with an All-American effort at the NCAA Championships. She finished eighth at the event, improving on her 11th-place finish last year. Markezich added a first-place finish at the NCAA Great Lakes Regional and a top-three finish at the ACC Championships. In the latter, she earned a personal best 19:29.7 time in the 6K.

Daniel Russo, Notre Dame men’s soccer

Junior forward Daniel Russo led the Irish men’s soccer team in both goals (six) and total points (16), tying for the team lead in assists with four. He started 11 games for Notre Dame this season and delivered in big ones. His hat trick against Michigan gave the Irish a pivotal win. And his game-tying strike against Pitt rescued a much-needed draw in the regular season finale.

Colleen McCarthy, Saint Mary’s volleyball

Colleen McCarthy dominated in her sophomore season with the Belles, earning All-MIAA second-team honors. McCarthy notched 321 kills, good for 3.41 per set. She added 309 digs and 28 service aces. Her best game came via a 27-kill performance on Oct. 22 vs. Averett. She led the team in kills and digs and was third in aces.

Joe Alt, Notre Dame football

After usurping the left tackle job last year, Joe Alt has stepped up as the anchor of the Irish offensive line. Alongside Mayer, Alt earned PFF first-team All-American honors. He was second in the country among tackles with a PFF grade of 91.8. His 99.3 pass-block efficiency tied for second among all FBS tackles, and his 90.8 run-blocking grade tied for first. Alt will return as Notre Dame’s left tackle next season. 

Hattie Monson, Notre Dame volleyball

One of the few holdovers on a roster loaded with freshmen and transfers, junior libero Hattie Monson delivered an exceptional season for the Irish. She finished third in the ACC in digs per set, ending the season with a 4.19 mark. Her season-high came against Boston College in a remarkable 27-dig performance. That was during a season-high four-game win streak for the Irish. Monson finished with at least 10 digs in 27 of 28 games this season.

Claudio Fuentealba, Holy Cross men’s soccer

An all-CCAC selection, Claudio Fuentealba anchored the Saints’ defense in 2022, leading them to a conference semifinal berth. He allowed just 0.93 per game while appearing in 18 of Holy Cross’s 19 contests. Fuentealba, a sophomore, earned seven shutouts and notched 53 saves. He earned CCAC player of the week in consecutive weeks and gave up just three goals in the Saints’ final eight games.

Korbin Albert, Notre Dame women’s soccer

A semifinalist for the MAC Hermann trophy, Korbin Albert dominated all season for the Irish and came on in a big way late in the year. The sophomore midfielder played for the U20 national team over the summer, then returned to lead the way for Notre Dame. She led the team with 16 goals and added five assists. Of those 16 goals, 14 came in a ten-game stretch starting on Oct. 6. Albert won ACC midfielder of the year, scored multiple goals on five occasions and delivered a hat trick in the ACC semifinals, scoring three times from long range.

Benjamin Morrison, Notre Dame football

A true freshman cornerback, Morrison cracked the starting lineup after just a few games. Morrison impressed all season, and he began racking up stats in a big way down the stretch. Against No. 4 Clemson, Morrison notched his first two interceptions, returning one for a touchdown. Two weeks later, he recorded three picks to end the regular season with five interceptions, the most by an Irish freshman in at least the last 25 years. It was the most interceptions by a Notre Dame player since Manti Te’o picked off seven passes in 2012.

Olivia Wingate, Notre Dame women’s soccer

A dominant goal-scorer all season, graduate student striker Olivia Wingate finished second on the team in goals with 14. She also tied Albert for the lead in assists with five. She more than doubled her career goal total, entering the season with 12 in her previous four seasons. Wingate notched a hat trick early in the year against a ranked Wisconsin team, one of four multi-goal efforts on the season. She added braces against a top-5 Florida State squad and in the NCAA Tournament versus Omaha. Her final goal was a game-winner versus TCU in the Sweet 16. 

Carter Solomon, Notre Dame Cross Country

Solomon became the second Irish runner in ACC championship history to earn the individual title. The sophomore’s 22:55.9 time in the 8K was a personal best and nearly a two-minute improvement from his 2021 effort. Later, at the NCAA championships, Solomon finished 18th, earning a personal best in the 10K of 29:18.8. 

Top Individual Performances

1. Ben Morrison two INT vs. Clemson, 11/5

It’s hard to make the stakes higher than this. The true freshman Morrison came up with a pair of key second-half interceptions. One set up the Irish to take a 21-0 lead against Clemson in the fourth quarter. The second, he returned 96 yards to seal the result, giving the Irish a top-5 victory over the previously unbeaten Tigers.

2. Korbin Albert hat trick vs. FSU, 11/3

Despite Notre Dame ultimately falling in penalty kicks, Albert put together a performance for the ages in the ACC Semifinals. She scored three times, including twice in 27 seconds in the second half. All three strikes came from well outside the box, two with her left foot from about 22 yards out and a 30-yard right-footed missile to open Notre Dame’s scoring in the game. Albert was recently named a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, given to the top male and female college soccer players. 

3. Carter Solomon wins ACC Championship, 10/28

On Oct. 28, Carter Solomon became the second Irish champion in ACC Championship history to claim the individual conference crown, spurring Notre Dame to a fourth-place finish. Solomon blitzed the 8K course in a time of 22:55.9, which was good for the individual title by a mere 0.2 seconds. He went on to earn All-American honors at the NCAA Championships. 

4. Isaiah Foskey 3 sacks, 2 punt blocks vs. UNLV, 10/22

Sitting at 3-3, the Irish desperately needed a big performance against UNLV to get their season back on track. Senior defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey delivered with a dynamic effort. Foskey notched a season-high three sacks, which put him back on pace to set the program record, a number he’d achieve on Senior Day. Additionally, Foskey blocked a pair of punts, giving Notre Dame’s offense some short fields in a 44-21 victory.

5. Daniel Russo hat trick vs. Michigan, 10/25

Notre Dame entered a late-season non-conference clash versus rival Michigan needing a win to stay alive in the at-large NCAA Tournament conversation. Down 1-0 with under 30 minutes to play, the hope seemed low. However, junior forward Daniel Russo delivered the best performance of his career, striking for three second-half goals to help Notre Dame beat the Wolverines 3-2. He scored in the 61st minute. Then, after the Irish fell behind again, he scored twice in 1:43, notching the game-winner with under five minutes to play.

Top Team Moments

1. Notre Dame routs Clemson, storms field

In the biggest win of their season, Notre Dame upset unbeaten Clemson for the second time in three years, 35-14. Sophomore running backs Logan Diggs and Audric Estime combined for 218 yards on the ground, with Estime scoring a touchdown. Junior quarterback Drew Pyne threw for a score and ran for another. The Irish also scored on both defense and special teams, punctuating their victory with Benjamin Morrison’s second interception, a 96-yard pick-six in the fourth quarter. 

2. Irish women’s soccer upsets top-5 UVA

After a 7-0 record in non-conference play, the Irish lost to Clemson in their ACC opener. They entered a battle with No. 2 Virginia. Head coach Nate Norman had never won a top-10 game in his tenure with the Irish. But that changed on Sept. 22. The Irish dominated the Cavaliers in the field of play and eventually found the winner in the 76th minute, courtesy of senior midfielder Maddie Mercado. Notre Dame won, 1-0. The Irish went on to later beat another top-5 opponent, Florida State, later in the year.

3. Saints’ men’s soccer hosts first-ever CCAC quarterfinal, dominates

The Holy Cross Saints men’s soccer squad earned a program-first this fall, hosting a first-round CCAC playoff matchup. They earned the No. 4 seed in the tournament, their first top-four ranking in team history. That brought in a matchup with fifth-seeded Judson, and the Saints outclassed the visitors. Senior midfielder Elmin Ejup scored twice, including 87 seconds into the match on a free kick. The Saints dominated Judson, winning 3-0 to advance.

4. Notre Dame women’s soccer earns first No. 1 seed in 14 years 

For the first time in 14 years, Notre Dame women’s soccer earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. The Irish didn’t lose after Sept. 25 and went 4-1-3 against top-25 teams. That included a 4-0 win over ACC champion Florida State. Notre Dame also won a series of postseason awards, headlined by ACC Coach of the Year (Nate Norman), midfielder of the year (Korbin Albert) and defenseman of the year (Eva Gaetino). The Irish went on to dominate three straight NCAA Tournament games, outscoring a trio of opponents 11-0, before falling in the Elite Eight.

5. Notre Dame men’s soccer buzzer-beating win over UVA

In their best win of the 2022 season, the Irish went on the road against Virginia and found a last-gasp winner, courtesy of freshman KK Baffour. With the score tied 1-1, sophomore forward Matthew Roou gained possession off a late Virginia corner kick and played a through ball to Baffour. The freshman went 1-v-1 with the keeper and found the back of the net for the Irish win. It was Virginia’s only ACC loss of the season.

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