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Saturday, June 22, 2024
The Observer

Morris: Top 10 Notre Dame athletes of the fall and winter sports seasons

As Notre Dame’s spring sports start up at the onset of the spring equinox, Irish fans will have the opportunity to frequent Arlotta Stadium for lacrosse games or the diamonds for baseball and softball. With campus shifting toward the final athletic season of the 2022-23 school year, I invite you to join me in looking back at the top performers from the fall and winter seasons. The following 10 athletes exceeded expectations during their latest season of play while donning the blue, green and gold.

10. Benjamin Morrison, freshman cornerback (football)

One of the biggest storylines of training camp for the famous Notre Dame football team was freshman cornerback Benjamin Morrison winning a starting spot over several veterans on the roster. Morrison improved as the season progressed, and his rapid development peaked with a three-interception game against Boston College on Nov. 19. He continued showing great hands-on defense, racking up six total picks in 13 games. Only two players in all of college football had more interceptions, and he was the only freshman with more than four. He is set to be a key piece of the Irish defense in 2023.

9. Lucy Trump, freshman outside hitter (volleyball)

The future of the Notre Dame volleyball team is bright, with head coach Salima Rockwell getting more comfortable in her new environment and Lucy Trump showing signs of stardom in her inaugural season. Trump was named ACC Freshman of the Week on Nov. 28, becoming the first and only Irish player to earn such recognition this season. She led the club with 252 kills and 2.83 kills per set, and 303 individual points. She will be a big part of the team’s offense next year as they look to build upon Rockwell’s first season.

8. Sonia Citron, sophomore guard (women’s basketball)

Notre Dame women’s basketball continued their trend of excellence with another strong season in 2022-23, highlighted by sophomore Sonia Citron. Citron played more than 1,000 minutes, which translated to a team lead in points (484) and points per game (14.7). She also paced the Irish in both three-pointers made and three-point percentage at 48 and 40%, respectively. Citron and teammate Olivia Miles found themselves on the All-ACC First Team at year’s end, capping off their successful season.

7. Daniel Russo, junior forward (men’s soccer)

The Notre Dame men’s soccer team posted a strong 8-7-2 record this past autumn, thanks in large part to junior forward Daniel Russo’s team-leading six goals and 16 points. The team thrived on their depth, but Russo led the way while earning Third-Team All-ACC honors and College Soccer News National Player of the Week from Oct. 23-30. He will be an integral part of the offensive attack for the Irish in 2023 as they look to advance past the first round of the ACC Tournament and beyond.

6. Nate Laszewski, graduate forward (men’s basketball)

Although the final season of Mike Brey’s tenure at Notre Dame did not go as well as hoped, Nate Laszewski was a consistent bright spot on the floor for the Fighting Irish. The 6-foot-10 Florida native started all 32 games during the 2022-23 campaign, racking up 438 points and 230 rebounds, both the most on the team. He also posted an impressive three-point percentage at 39.2% and led the team in free throw percentage at 84.7%, while finishing just one block behind the team lead of 23. Laszewski was truly a do-it-all player on the court.

5. Eszter Muhari, freshman epee (fencing)

The Notre Dame fencing team took home its third consecutive and 13th overall national championship in March of 2023. The team featured numerous superstars, none better than Eszter Muhari, a freshman who put together an incredible 19-2 record in her first season in South Bend. The native of Budapest, Hungary, capped off her near-perfect year by winning the national title in women’s epee March 26. Muhari is set to be an integral part of the team again next year as they look to continue their fencing dynasty.

4. Jadin O’Brien, sophomore hurdler/jumper/sprinter (women’s track and field)

The sheer number of track and field athletes at the collegiate level makes winning the ACC Women’s Indoor Field Performer of the Year Award nearly impossible, yet Notre Dame’s own Jadin O’Brien, a sophomore out of Pewaukee, WI, did just that. O’Brien thrived in essentially every competition she participated in, highlighted by her record-setting 4512-point performance in the pentathlon. That score was enough to win her the national title in the event. On top of that, O’Brien is also the newest owner of the USTFCCCA Great Lakes Field Athlete of the Year award. Most incredibly, she accomplished all of this in only her second year competing at the collegiate level.

3. Ryan Bischel, senior goalie (hockey)

The first, and only, senior on this list is Notre Dame hockey’s top performer of 2022-23, Ryan Bischel. Bischel finished the season with an astounding .931 save percentage (SV%), the third best in college hockey, and a .938 mark in Big Ten play (first). He helped Notre Dame clinch home ice for a first-round playoff series despite the Irish ranking No. 53 out of 60 Division I teams in scoring offense. In honor of his success, Bischel was named Big Ten Goaltender of the Year and earned nominations for the Hobey Baker (best player in the nation) and Mike Richter (best goalie) Awards. The best part? He is coming back next year to rep the blue and gold.

2. Korbin Albert, sophomore midfielder (women’s soccer)

In any normal year, Korbin Albert, superstar sophomore midfielder out of Illinois, would be a slam-dunk choice to rank atop this list. Albert recently signed with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) after a sensational year with the Irish women’s soccer team, where she posted 16 goals and five assists (37 points) in 22 games, as well as six game-winning scores. PSG is world-renowned for producing generational talents, including Kylian Mbappe and Lionel Messi on the men’s side. Albert will be greatly missed on the field at Notre Dame, but her accomplishments are sure to continue overseas as she enters her prime years as an athlete.

1. Michael Mayer, junior tight end (football)

Michael Mayer will be a first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft after being the most reliable target for the Fighting Irish for more than just the past year. In 2022 specifically, Mayer reeled in 809 yards, an average of 67.4 per game, along with nine scores. In doing so, he captured the record for most career touchdown receptions by a Notre Dame tight end. He also set the tight end record for most single-season scores this year. In honor of his excellence, Mayer was named a consensus All-American, Notre Dame’s first at the tight end position since Ken MacAfee in 1977. It is difficult to argue that he is not the best tight end in Irish history.