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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
The Observer

Athlete of the Week: Galajda shines in net, Pirkowski wins ACC title

A largely successful weekend of Notre Dame sports provided a variety of competitive ballots for the team and athletes of the week. 

Men’s Athlete of the Week: Matthew Galagda, Hockey

Notre Dame hockey had a fantastic weekend, sweeping No. 2 Michigan. Graduate student goaltender Matthew Galajda anchored the two-game effort. Standing tall between the pipes, the Cornell transfer notched 59 saves for the Irish over two games and surrendered just two goals versus their rivals. That was enough for the Irish to claim victories of 4-1 and 2-1. It also gave Notre Dame the three-seed in the Big 10 conference tournament, which starts this weekend. Galajda made 28 saves on Friday night, including 11 third-period efforts to preserve Notre Dame’s victory. On Saturday, the goaltender recorded 31 saves, with 14 coming in the final period of play. His effort in goal earned him his second nomination for Athlete of the Week and his first win. 

Honorable Mention: Andrew Machovec, Fencing

Machovech turned in one of many fantastic performances for the Irish fencing squad this weekend. Machovech claimed the ACC foil championship, going 14-1 in the individual event on Saturday. During Sunday’s team event, Machovech went 8-1 as the Irish stomped BC, UNC and Duke in rapid succession to claim the men’s team title. 

Women’s Athlete of the Week: Amanda Pirkowski, Fencing

Sophomore epee Amanda Pirkowski was a dominant force all weekend for the Irish fencing squad, leading the women’s team to the team title. Beyond that, Pirkowski also cruised through the individual field en route to a 16-1 record on Saturday. Pirkowski went 14-1 in pool play to take the top seed into the semifinals. There she defeated a pair of Duke fencers in the final two rounds, by scores of 15-4 and 15-10 to claim the individual title. On Sunday, Pirkowski went 7-2, boosting the Irish to victory. In their final victories over UNC and Duke, Pirkowski was key in engineering a comeback. She delivered the clinching victory against Duke in the title match. Her efforts and high-impact victories were enough to win Athlete of the Week.

Honorable Mention: Sonia Citron, Notre Dame Women’s Basketball

Despite an unfortunate end to the week with a tough loss to No. 4 Louisville, freshman guard Sonia Citron put together the best performance in the losing effort, following up a dynamic double-double against Clemson. Citron totaled 33 points and 21 rebounds in two games, coming two rebounds shy of consecutive double-doubles on Sunday. 

Team of the Week: Notre Dame Hockey

This one was a two-team race between the fencing and hockey squads. However, with a season sweep of their rivals on the line, as well as seeding in the Big 10 tournament, the Irish delivered majorly and hockey took the award. It also likely secured at minimum an at-large NCAA bid for Notre Dame should they fall short in the conference tournament. 

The Irish victory is also more impressive when taking into account their opponent. Michigan was ranked No. 2, and they had lost just once this calendar year. Furthermore, the Wolverines had won seven straight games entering the series. And they had only been swept one other time all season — by the Irish back in November. The magnitude of the victory combined with the caliber of the opponent was enough for Notre Dame hockey to earn their second team of the week award.


Men’s Athlete of the Week: Galajda (Hockey, second nomination), Machovec (Fencing, first), Ryan Cole (Baseball, first), Matthew Carmody (Track and Field, 1st)

Women’s Athlete of the Week: Pirkowski (Fencing, first nomination), Citron (ND WBB, first), Alexis Holloway (Softball, second), Jadin O'Brien (Track and Field, 3rd)