We've got the last of our weekly updates for you as this year in athletics comes to a close. Instead of looking at how individual sports fared this week, we have notes on how all Notre Dame teams fared this past year. This is our year-end review.
Baseball (27-27, 11-17) started strong, entering the top-25 rankings in February, but they struggled down the stretch in conference play.
No. 17 men's basketball (24-12, 11-7) had another phenomenal year, making it to the Elite Eight in the NCAA tournament, where they fell to North Carolina.
No. 2 women's Basketball (33-2, 16-0), a perennial superpower under Muffet McGraw, had an unexpectedly strong year with a young team. They took a surprising tournament-ending loss to Stanford in the Sweet Sixteen.
Cross country came in strong, with Molly Seidel winning her second consecutive NCAA championship, this time in the 6k event (the first came last spring in the 10000m at the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships). She earned titles at the NCAA Great Lakes Regionals and the ACC Championships, as well. Anna Rohrer earned second at the ACC Championships for Notre Dame.
Fencing continues its impressive national presence, this year boasting five graduates and current athletes on the US Olympic team. Be on the lookout for Mariel Zagunis ('06, sabre), Kelley Hurley ('10, epee), Courtney Hurley ('12, epee), Gerek Meinhardt ('15, foil) and Lee Kiefer (senior, foil) on the 17-man Olympic fencing team in Rio this summer. The Irish posted a fifth-place finish at the NCAA championships, but came in first at the ACC championships. Finally, Sabrina Massialas earned the crown in women's foil at the Junior World Championship in Bourges, France, in April.
No. 11 football went 10-2 with a loss to national championship contender no. 2 Clemson in a monsoon, to no. 3 Stanford on the road, and to no. 4 Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, all after losing their starting QB for the season? That seems to have gone pretty well.
Men's golf didn't have a great year, finishing 10th of 12 at the ACC Championships in April. Matthew Rushton tied for 16th overall at that event, though, which is pretty good, and the team had a few top-5 finishes at tournaments over the course of the season.
Women's golf did have a strong year, claiming two first-place finishes at tournaments during the season and another handful of top-5 finishes. They came in 10th at the ACC Championship, which was a disappointment after an excellent regular season, then came in tied for 13th at the NCAA Birmingham Regional to finish up the year.
No. 13 hockey (19-11-7, 15-5-2) fared well, but was a bit up and down this past season. They earned a spot in the quarterfinals of the Hockey East tournament in March, then competed in the NCAA Regionals, where they fell in overtime to Michigan. Recent ND alumni Bryan Rust and Ian Cole will play for Pittsburgh in the Stanley Cup Finals this next week; Rust scored both of the Penguins' game-7 goals assuring their place in the finals last week. Three Irish players were drafted by NHL teams this year and Notre Dame announced an impending move to the Big Ten for hockey.
No. 7 men's lacrosse (11-4, 3-1) had a very strong start to the season, but couldn't hold on down the stretch. They fell to North Carolina, the eventual national champions, in the NCAA quarterfinals; that's the fifth time in a row that ND's lost to the eventual champion. They fell to Duke in OT in the ACC championship game in April. Defenseman Matt Landis was a finalist for the Tewaaraton Award, which goes to the national player of the year.
No. 6 women's lacrosse (14-7, 4-3) also ended the season with an NCAA quaterfinals loss to North Carolina, who won the national championship. They advanced to the ACC championship semifinal in the conference tournament, where they lost to Syracuse. Cortney Fortunato paced the Irish on offense and Barbara Sullivan was a finalist for the Tewaaraton Award, which goes to the national player of the year.
No. 15 rowing finished fourth at the ACC championships this May after a strong season on the water, in which they also broke in a new boathouse on the St. Joseph River.
No. 7 (currently no. 11) men's soccer (11-5-6, 4-2-2) had what can only be considered a down year, given their powerhouse performances in recent years. Three Irish players were taken in the MLS draft after the team finished the season in the NCAA round of 16 with a 2-1 loss to Maryland. They were edged by Syracuse, 1-0, in the ACC championship game. The Irish have had a strong spring schedule, including hosting the Mexico U-20 team. Alumnus Matt Besler, who played for the U.S. Men's National Soccer Team in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, is back with the USMNT as they begin play in the Copa America tournament.
No. 10/7 (currently no. 11) women's soccer (14-5-1, 6-4-0) concluded their season with a second-round loss in the NCAA tournament. It was a bit of a down year for them, given their recent dominance. Two players were selected in the NWSL draft after the season concluded. The Irish have had a strong spring schedule, including hosting the Mexico U-20 team. Alumna Katie Naughton is currently playing for the U.S. U-23 Women's National Team and rising sophomore Natalie Jacobs has recently played on the U.S. U-20 Women's National Team.
No. 23 softball (43-13, 13-7) wrapped up an impressive season in the NCAA regionals with a loss to no. 2 Michigan in late May. They had an impressive showing the ACC tournament, making it to the final, where they fell to no. 6 Florida State. The Irish were ranked as high as no. 17 this season.
Men's swimming and diving sent a number of swimmers to the NCAA championships, where they set several school records. The team came in 8th overall at the ACC championship meet in February. After losing generational talent Emma Reaney to graduation and in the midst of a coaching transition, the Irish swimming and diving squads performed well this season.
Women's swimming and diving had a number of athletes compete well at the NCAA championships, including three divers - that side of the program is currently excelling. The team took 7th overall at the ACC championship meet in February. As noted above, after losing generational talent Emma Reaney to graduation and in the midst of a coaching transition, the Irish swimming and diving squads performed well this season. They're being combined into a single unit under one head coach during the current off-season.
Men's tennis (15-14, 6-6) just about broke even this season, but put up impressive performances at the NCAA championships. Doubles team Lawson and Monaghan fell in the championship semifinals just this past Sunday. Monaghan also played into the round of 32 at the NCAA singles championships last week, and the team fell in the first round of the NCAA championship. They played into the ACC tournament quarterfinals in April.
Women's tennis (14-14, 5-9) fared just about the same this season. Quinn Gleason fell in the first round of competition at the NCAA singles championship and the team fell in the first round of competition as well, to UCLA. The team lost in the ACC tournament final.
Track & field is the only team with any competition left on the schedule - the NCAA outdoor championship is ahead still, beginning on June 8th (if anybody wins a championship, we'll be sure to let you know). Kaila Barber (400mH, 100mH, 4x400m relay), Margaret Bamgbose, and Carly Loeffel will compete there, as will Parker English and Jordan Shead. The women's team finished 5th and the men's, 11th, at the ACC outdoor championships in mid-May. The women had an outstanding indoor season, finishing 5th at the NCAA indoor championships in March. They came in 3rd at the ACC indoor championships, and the men came in 7th. All in all, a great season for the women's track and field team.
Volleyball (7-25, 2-18) is in transition, with a new head coach in place and a squad made up entirely of underclassmen. They struggled mightily this season, as they did last season, but saw some light with a 4-1 stretch in mid-September and a victory over Clemson to finish the home slate. On to next year.
When the fall season begins, be sure to root for the whole range of Notre Dame sports. Until then, and always, go Irish. Beat everybody.