It''s a long road to victory. Irish student athletes are taking it one game at a time.
Notre Dame football came up big on Saturday against a top-ten opponent, but they weren't the only Irish athletes dominating the competition. The Fighting Irish earned victories across the board this weekend with big wins for men's soccer, women's soccer, volleyball, cross country, tennis, and softball. (And last week, for Jack Swarbrick as Notre Dame moved to partially join the ACC.)
When we caught you up on the week in ND athletics last week, the men's soccer team had won the Berticelli Memorial Tournament at Notre Dame, the women's team had earned a draw and a loss out on the west coast, two women's soccer players had helped the U.S. win the FIFA Under-20 Women's World Cup, volleyball had claimed a win and two losses, and cross country had earned second in the Crusader Invitational at Valparaiso.
This week, it's all good news for the Irish.
Soccer: The 3rd-ranked men's team now stands undefeated after a 7-0 start. The Irish conquered both Michigan State (at Notre Dame) and Michigan (in Ann Arbor) over the weekend. The Irish defeated Michigan State convincingly on Friday, 2-0, in a physical match that saw yellow cards flying - 6 total - and 34 whistled fouls. As head coach Bobby Clark described it, it was "a hard grind," but a sweet victory.
The Irish faced Michigan on Sunday and clawed by the Wolverines 1-0, with the goal coming in the second overtime period. We are hopeful that just as Friday's victory over MSU preceded a win over MSU by the football team, Sunday's victory over Michigan will similarly precede a big football win over Michigan in a few days. The Irish men's soccer team last opened a season 7-0 in 1987. Their last seven-game win streak came in 2006. That's quite a start.
This Saturday, the men plays at Louisville to open Big East play.
The women's team (5-3-1, 2-0-0 Big East) opened Big East play this past weekend with a pair of wins over Louisville and Cincinnati. The Irish conquered Louisville 2-0 at Notre Dame on Friday with unassisted goals from Crystal Thomas and Lauren Bohaboy; the Irish allowed one Louisville goal in the closing two minutes of the game.
Cincinnati was crushed 7-0 by the Irish on Sunday at Notre Dame, when seven different Irish players scored against the Bearcats in a game that offered the Irish a chance to forge their offensive identity and gave some young players quality playing time.
Volleyball: The Irish (7-5) returned to the Purcell Pavilion for the Golden Dome Invitational last weekend, where they faced Xavier, Loyola Marymount, and Kansas. Notre Dame beat Xavier in five sets on Friday, then fell 3-1 to Loyola Marymount in a difficult match for the Irish on Saturday. On Sunday, the Irish earned a 3-1 victory over a strong Kansas team behind Toni Alugbue's 20 kills, 10 digs, and 4 blocks. The win snapped Kansas's 9-match win streak over the Irish.
This weekend, the Irish begin Big East play at Cincinnati and Louisville.
Cross Country: After opening the season on August 31st in Valparaiso at the Crusader Invitational, Irish cross country hit the ground running once more in the National Catholic Championships at Notre Dame.
Senior Rebecca Tracy won first place in the women's 5K (17:11.8). Other Notre Dame women took third, fourth, and fifth place in a 35-team field. Senior Jeremy Rae won first in the men's 5 mile race (24:16.0). Notre Dame men took fifth, seventh, eighth, and tenth place among 34 teams. Champions, all.
Tennis: The men's tennis team hit the road this weekend for a pair of invitationals. At the OFCC Invitational in Olympia Fields, Illinois, the men took three singles wins. The victories went to Blas Moros, Billy Pecor, and Quentin Monaghan. At the Vredevelt Invitational in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the men won another three singles matches, with victories for Kenny Sabacinski, Nicolas Montoya, and Michael Fredericka. ND's Montoya and Carman of Xavier won their doubles match, as well.
Softball: The Notre Dame softball team made the trip to Indianapolis this Sunday to play an exhibition match at IUPUI - which they won, 14-0 - and to deliver apparel and gifts to cancer patients at Riley Children's Hospital.
We'll bring you updates again next week on the Notre Dame Olympic sports and help you to root for the Irish beyond those long-awaited and well-loved fall Saturdays. For now, go Irish. Beat Michigan, and everybody else.