State of the Irish: How Notre Dame athletics fared over fall break
Students may have been away for fall break last week, but Notre Dame athletics remained in action. Here’s a quick rundown of where various Irish sports stand as they enter the home stretch of their respective seasons.
Women’s soccer only had one game over the fall break period, but it was perhaps their most important of the season. Coming off an ugly 4-1 defeat on the road against national No. 1 Florida State, the Irish were offered a chance for redemption against No. 3 North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Another loss could have sent the season into a spiral. But a positive result would further legitimize the Irish as a team that can compete with the nation’s best. Notre Dame faced an avalanche of Tar Heel chances but held on for a 1-1 draw that could go a long way in boosting the team’s resume with the NCAA tournament on the horizon.
The Irish then continued their momentum over the weekend, picking up a 1-0 win over NC State. Notre Dame will have one more game in the regular season, a home test against national No. 8 Clemson, before playing in the ACC Tournament.
Men’s soccer kept on rolling during fall break, extending their unbeaten streak to nine matches. A 3-0 win over Michigan on the road was impressive, but a chaotic 1-1 draw with Wake Forest in Winston-Salem was more important. In a match with heavy ACC title implications, Notre Dame conceded a late Demon Deacon goal, only to equalize minutes later thanks to senior forward Daniel Russo. Russo received a red card in the subsequent celebration, but the 10-men Irish hung on for the final five minutes.
With the draw, Notre Dame now controls its own destiny heading into their final regular season matchup against Pitt after clinching the Coastal Division title with the Wake draw. With a win or draw against the Panthers on Friday, the Irish will win the ACC regular season title outright. The Irish have not clinched an outright regular season title since 2014.
Notre Dame volleyball has seen a dip in form as of late after a strong start to the season. The Irish have lost three consecutive games since the start of fall break, including a five-set heartbreaker on Friday against Virginia Tech. Junior outside hitter Sydney Palazzolo continues to be a force for the Irish. Her 283 kills rank first in the ACC and she’s second in service aces. Secondary support has proven to be a struggle, though, with no other Notre Dame player currently within 100 kills of Palazzolo. The road doesn’t get any easier now for the Irish either, who have a pair of home matches this week against Miami and Florida State, both of which are within the top five in the ACC standings.
After a season-opening split with Clarkson, the skating Irish played three games during fall break. On Oct. 14, the Irish lost 3-0 at RIT despite outshooting the Tigers 36-23. Notre Dame then returned home this past weekend and split with then-No. 6 Boston University. In their 4-1 victory on Friday, the Irish scored four times in the first period and killed off all six Terrier power plays on the night. Senior forward Landon Slaggert scored the game-winning goal, his team-high third of the season.
However, on Saturday, BU exploded for an 8-2 beatdown. Scoring all eight goals in the game’s first half, the Terriers chased senior goaltender Ryan Bischel after just 20 minutes and five goals allowed. With a 2-3-0 record and a shorter week ahead, the Irish will host Mercyhurst for a Thursday-Friday series to end October.
Swim & Dive
The Irish opened their regular season on Oct. 6 with an away dual meet against Wisconsin. The team split the weekend, with the men capturing a big win against the Badgers as the women fell short. The following week the Irish hosted Purdue and split their home opener the same way, the men claiming a decisive victory and the women just narrowly missing the mark against the Boilermakers.
Over the break, the Irish hosted a tri-meet last Friday and Saturday with Pitt and Penn State. Both the men’s and women’s sides swept their opponents. Pitt proved a worthy opponent, as the Irish men only won by a margin of two points. Junior Chris Guiliano continued to impress for the Irish, clinching three individual wins in the 50, 100 and 200 freestyle. Sophomore Tommy Janton saw victory in the 100 backstroke, with graduate student Cason Wilburn taking first in the 100 butterfly. All four men’s relays dominated their opponents, which bodes well for the team’s future season performance. Graduate student Carlo Lopez Hernandez also showed up on the diving board with career-high second and fourth-place finishes.
For the women, junior Maggie Graves had a breakout meet winning both the 500 and 1000 freestyle. Graduate student Ellie Jew also won both breaststroke events with season bests. Sophomore Grace Courtney posted her best meet of the year, standing out with two wins on the diving board. Up next, the Irish are poised to face No. 12 (men)/No. 3 (women) Louisville — head coach Chris Lindauer’s alma mater — away on November 3rd. The Irish men are currently ranked No. 17 in the country by the NCAA, with the women unranked.