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Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024
The Observer

Mabrey, Shoaf earn first-ever Observer Sports’ Athletes of the Week

In an effort to recognize the top performers from around the tri-campus community, the Observer Sports Staff is debuting a weekly set of awards given to the Men’s and Women’s Athlete of the Week, as well as a Team of the Week. The top performances were whittled down to a list of four finalists for each award and then voted upon by the Observer Sports Staff. Without further ado, here are the first winners of these weekly awards. 

Team of the Week: Notre Dame Women’s Basketball 

The inaugural team of the week selection was a clear choice. The Notre Dame women’s basketball team put up a 2-0 week in ACC play, punctuating it with a 70-65 victory over No. 21 UNC. It was the Irish’s first home victory over a top 25 team since Feb. 10, 2019. 

Notre Dame started their excellent week with a road victory over Wake Forest. The Irish established a dominant 24-point advantage after three quarters and ultimately handled the Demon Deacons, 74-64. Freshman Olivia Miles had a double-double in the win. Then, Notre Dame returned home to face the Tar Heels, who were 4-1 in conference play with the top-ranked offense in the ACC. After a shaky first quarter put the Irish in a 22-15 hole, they rallied on the strength of a dominant third quarter. Excellent defense kept the Tar Heels to 43 points over the final three quarters. Freshman Sonia Citron and graduate student Maya Dodson each notched a double-double. 

An undefeated week with their best victory of the season moved Notre Dame up to third in the ACC and the No. 19 ranking in the AP Poll. It also earns them the inaugural team of the week award from the Observer Sports Staff. 

Women’s Athlete of the Week: Dara Mabrey, Notre Dame Women’s Basketball

This selection wrote itself. Senior guard Dara Mabrey was on another level this past week, averaging 23 points per game in the Irish’s two games. Defensively, Mabrey notched her fifth and sixth multi-steal performances. Against Wake Forest, Mabrey played 36 minutes and racked up 22 points. A 7-8 performance from the charity stripe powered the performance, as well as a 3-3 effort from inside the three-point arc. 

On Sunday, it was all about the deep shot. Mabrey poured in 24 points, jacking up 13 three-point attempts and drilling six of them. Mabrey notched two assists and three steals, and she was on the court for 37 of 40 minutes in the game. For her dominant two-game effort on both ends of the court, Mabrey garnered well over 50% of the vote among the final four finalists to claim the first Observer Sports Women’s Athlete of the Week. 

Honorable Mention: Rachel Tanczos, Notre Dame Track & Field

Graduate student Rachel Tanczos put up an admirable effort at the Simmons-Harvey Invitational. Tanczos helped power the Irish to a second-place team finish by placing second in the shot put and winning the weight throw. 

Men’s Athlete of the Week: Michael Shoaf, Notre Dame Track & Field

In a close vote, sophomore Michael Shoaf was the Irish’s most successful performer on the men’s side. Competing in field events, Shoaf picked up a pair of victories in the shot put and weight toss at the Simmons-Harvey Invitational. The weight throw was a tightly-contested affair. Shoaf sat in third after his first throw, and he still lingered in second place entering his final effort. Having peaked at 18.49 meters, Shoaf needed a throw of 18.68 to tie for first. He exceeded that with ease, launching a 19.1-meter effort to claim first place. 

Shoaf’s shot put victory came with much greater ease. He fired his first shot 17.53 meters, a mark which nobody came within a meter of throughout the event. He boosted his own effort up to 18.36 meters, claiming victory by a whopping 2.1 meters (just under 7 feet). His clutch comeback effort in the weight toss, dominance in shot put and elite two-victory performance earned Shoaf the Men’s Athlete of the Week. 

Honorable Mention: Spencer Stastney, Notre Dame Hockey

Senior defenseman Spencer Stastney came through in the clutch on Friday evening for the Irish hockey team. Facing a tough road trip to No. 14 Ohio State, the Irish were in danger of dropping the opener to the Buckeyes. The game went into overtime, but Stastney ensured Notre Dame emerged on top, tickling the twine for the overtime winner. It was a big win, as Notre Dame split the series and stayed at No. 13 in the polls. They face a quick turnaround against Boston College on Wednesday night.