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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
The Observer

Fast facts about every tri-campus fall sports team

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Ryan Vigilante | The Observer
Irish RB Audric Estime breaks free during Notre Dame’s 38-27 loss to USC on Nov. 26.

Notre Dame 

Football

With the Marcus Freeman era reaching its second year, the Irish look to build upon last season’s 9-4 record and No. 18 final ranking. 2022-23 marked a rollercoaster for the Irish, with a big-time win against No. 5 Clemson but embarrassing losses against unranked Marshall and Stanford.

The expectation now, however, is national titles. And a 9-4 season with losses to lesser-ranked opponents isn’t acceptable. This year’s preseason AP Poll ranked the Irish No. 13. Transfers such as graduate quarterback Sam Hartman and defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste are expected to make an immediate impact. However, Hartman is the name everyone will be watching as he tries to play his way into the Heisman conversation. The arrivals of freshman Jeremiyah Love and Penn State transfer Devyn Ford, along with the return of junior running back Audric Estime, sophomore Gi'Bran Payne and sophomore Jadarian Price, will give the Irish a strong run game.

With another year under defensive coordinator Al Golden, the defense is expected to take giant steps and avoid the big play breakdowns and red zone failures experienced last season. The loss of special teams coach and punt block guru Brian Mason hurts. But his replacement Marty Biagi shouldn’t miss a step. If the wide receivers can gel, the Irish have the potential to make a run this season.

ND Men's Soccer

With three exhibition matches under their belt, the Irish kick off their regular season at home on Aug. 24 against Indiana, looking to build upon a four-game unbeaten run to end the 2022 regular season. In postseason play, though, the Irish fell to Clemson in the first round of the ACC Tournament.

Head coach Chad Riley cites consistently getting into the quarterfinals as a future goal for the team. Junior goalkeeper Bryan Dowd was a big contributor last season, totaling 43 saves at a .652 clip. Dowd will return for another season, bringing with him consistency and the ability to develop young players. Also returning are sophomore midfielders KK Baffour and Sebastian Green, who had particularly notable developmental seasons last year. Also watch for award watchlist players this year, such as senior defender Paddy Burns, as the Irish begin their campaign.

ND Women's Soccer

The Irish saw a wildly successful season last year, reaching the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2012. Entering 2023 ranked No. 3 in the country, high expectations abound for the Irish. However, the departure of star Korbin Albert to PSG in France and the graduation of an excellent senior class leaves a hole in the offense this season. Look to graduate transfer midfielder Kristina Lynch for her wealth of experience and to potentially shake things up on offense after she missed all of 2022 with an injury.

Captain and graduate student midfielder Kiki Van Zanten also returns with experience from the 2023 World Cup. Graduate forward Maddie Mercado has excelled in preseason. The Irish will also especially look to the defense to shine, with three starters returning on the backline in All-ACC Preseason team member senior Eva Gaetino, graduate student Waniya Hudson and sophomore Leah Klenke.

ND Volleyball

After a rocky 10-18 season, the Irish are looking to rebuild with head coach Salima Rockwell in her second year. Showing signs of promise with several win streaks, the team looks to draw on the highs of 2022 to create a winning culture this year. Some of the Irish’s strongest players will be returning, such as junior setter Phyona Schrader and senior libero Hattie Monson. Schrader averaged over eight assists per set, ranking seventh in the ACC. Monson finished with 4.19 digs per set, the third-most in the conference.

ND Golf 

For the Irish women, head coach Caroline Powers Ellis enters her second season after learning the ropes of South Bend in 2022-23. The team has lost three graduating players, though four freshmen enter the roster for the season. The upperclassmen trio of graduate student Lauren Beaudreau, senior Chloe Schiavone and junior Montgomery Ferreira will return to help guide the talented freshman class.

The men suffered a disappointing season, failing to place any higher than fourth in any competition. The return of emerging sophomore Nate Stevens and established star graduate student Palmer Jackson will allow them to build upon his Stevens' promising freshman season.

ND XC

Emily Hosker-Thornhill makes her season debut as assistant coach for the Irish. After posting a 15th-place finish for the men and seventh for the women at the NCAA Championships, the Irish are looking toward higher finishes 2023.

Saint Mary's

SMC Volleyball

The Belles faced a difficult season last year, going 5-19 with a 1-7 conference record. With the departure of three seniors at the end of last season, the Belles will rely on new recruits to fill the gaps in the program. Nevertheless, according to head coach Denise Van De Walle, team morale is high and a small roster provides for more personal attention.

SMC Soccer

An inexperienced roster, new coaching staff and difficult slate of opponents led to an 0-13-3 season for the Belles in 2022. Last year, 16 of the 23 players of the Belles’ roster were underclassmen. However, with a year under their belt and an understanding of their shortcomings, the Belles prepare to take on the season with a huge group of sophomores and incoming recruits.

SMC XC

After some late-season success and a sixth-place finish at the MIAA Championships last year, the Belles are hoping to build on this momentum in the upcoming season. With last year's roster featuring six seniors, the underclassmen will be put to the test as the team vies for personal bests and strong team finishes.

Holy Cross

HCC Men's Soccer

The Saints put together a 10-5-4 season last year, hanging tough with nearly every team they played. Much of the roster returns this year. That's a good thing considering last year's team set a program record with a 12-game unbeaten streak. With sights set on a deep postseason run, the team will build on their performance from last year and look to new recruits to step up.

HCC Women's Soccer

An injury-riddled season for the Saints concluded with a 6-6-7 record last year. This season though, a strong incoming freshman class will bring the Saints some big-time players and much needed added depth. Focused on specifying the team’s needs while recruiting, coach Omar Gallo believes he will foster his talent to where a championship could be on the line in the foreseeable future.

HCC/SMC Golf 

Both HCC and SMC had difficult 2022-23 seasons. For the Saint Mary’s golf team, their average was the lowest it has been in eight years last year. However, the team hopes for more consistent play this season in order to achieve their goals. Both the Holy Cross women’s and men’s golf team faced the sudden departure of head coach T.J. Mannen partway into last season. Assistant coach Aaron Martinez stepped up into the interim head coach position, and he'll lead the team again this year. With only four female golfers on the roster at the end of last season, the team hopes to build a stronger, deeper roster in 2023.