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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

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The Observer

Men's Golf: Struggling team last at tournament

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The Irish struggled to post consistent scores for the second tournament in a row, finishing in last place at the UNCG Bridgestone Collegiate Championship, a two-day, three-round tournament in Greensboro, N.C., held Friday and Saturday.






The Observer

SMC Volleyball: Belles can't stop slide over break

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Saint Mary's had a rough fall break, losing two matches to MIAA opponents. The defeats bring their losing streak to three in the middle of a stretch of nine straight conference games to close out the regular season. 


The Observer

ND Swimming and Diving: Irish come in second in relay meet

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Irish divers Caleb Dunnichay and Eric Lex were able to sweep the men's diving portion of the Dennis Stark Relays Friday, helping the Irish men to a second place finish in their first meet of the season. The Irish women also finished second at the meet. A senior and junior respectively, Dunnichay and Lex totaled 555.02 points in the 1-meter diving relay and 253 points in the 3-meter synchronized diving competition, one of only two first place finishes Notre Dame had in the meet. "[The divers] help us a lot," Irish men's coach Tim Welch said. "If swimming were football, divers would be like 'special teams' - almost always a big factor in the outcome." Despite only one first place finish in the swimming events, the men's team was able to record three second place finishes and five third place finishes, finishing outside of the top three only once, a consistency which helped them earn the silver medal. "The meet was a solid start," Welsh said. "It shows us where we are now. What counts is how much we improve from here." In a meet with only relay events, the Irish men's 400-meter freestyle relay team gave the Irish their only first-place finish on the swimming side of the meet, finishing just over nine seconds ahead of Oakland University, the second-place finisher. Posting a time of 3:10.03, seniors John Lytle and Andrew Hoffman, along with juniors Thomas Van Volkenburg and Steven Brus made up the relay team that gave Notre Dame the gold. Michigan, which won the men's meet handily, posted a better time than Notre Dame in the 400-meter freestyle, but was disqualified in the race. The Wolverines won eight out of the 10 swimming matches in the meet, in their first appearance in a meet at Notre Dame. "We were pleased to welcome them here," Welch said. "Historically they are very fast. No surprises there." On the women's side, Notre Dame also finished second to the Wolverines. The Irish won the 200 medley relay in 1:44.67 for a meet record and swept the 1-meter Diving Relay and 3-meter Synchronized Diving events. The Irish women faced Michigan in a dual meet the next day, and fell again by the score of 165-133. Oakland, who finished third at the Dennis Stark Relays in the men's competition, actually scored more points on the swimming side of the meet than the Irish. The Irish men will face Oakland in their second match of the year, which will take place on Oct. 23 in the Rolfs Aquatic Center. "They scored more swimming points and we scored more diving points, so expect a good meet," Welch said. "We will need a whole team effort, seniors through freshmen, for that meet."


The Observer

Football: Freshman specialists earn starting spots

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Notre Dame's veteran depth at key positions has kept several talented members of the freshman class off the field. That hasn't been the case, however, for kicker Nick Tausch, punter Ben Turk and long snapper Jordan Cowart, who have all earned the starting gigs at their respective positions. "I was hoping that was how it would be from the beginning," Cowart said of all three starting as freshmen. "We've got the little trifecta going, as I like to call it." Cowart, the only snapping specialist on scholarship - sophomore short snapper Braxston Cave also competes for playing time on the offensive line - essentially won his job the day he signed to play for the Irish. But both Tausch and Turk had to compete with veteran returning starters to earn the No. 1 spot on the depth chart. Tausch beat out junior Brandon Walker for the job during summer camp, at which time Irish coach Charlie Weis had said that the race wasn't close. The freshman has been nearly flawless, as he has made 10 straight field goals - including all five he tried during Notre Dame's 37-30 overtime victory over Washington Oct. 3 - and 15-of-16 extra-point attempts to lead the Irish in scoring with 45 points. "I was a little bit nervous my first kick, but by the second time I went out there I felt like nothing was really going to change," Tausch said. "I feel like I'm the type of kid that needs the first kick to figure out what's going on. Then after that, everything is the same, just whether the distance is longer or shorter." Turk made his first start in Notre Dame's last game against Washington and delivered punts of 40 and 39 yards, respectively. Weis opted to give Turk a shot after staging a weekly open competition for the job, which senior Eric Maust had previously held. "I didn't really concern myself with the competition," Turk said. "I just went out to practice to try to get better every day, and whatever happened, just let it happen." As for Cowart - well, it's almost automatic.


The Observer

Men's Golf: Sandman, Scodro lead Irish through first day

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In a field that includes four teams ranked in the top 25, the Irish sit in 11th place after two rounds of The Prestige at PGA West in La Quinta, Calif. The team has been led so far by solid performances from fifth-year senior Josh Sandman and sophomore Max Scodro. "We just haven't played well," Irish coach Jim Kubinski said. "I'm still trying to wrack my brain to figure out why. We definitely extended a lot of energy physically and mentally winning [The Fighting Irish Gridiron Golf Classic], and I just think we're tired. We haven't been hitting the ball well, and that's our strength, so obviously the scores are going to add up." Scodro started the tournament out well on Sunday, shooting an even-par 72 in the first round which put him in a tie for 16th place going into Monday. He struggled in the second round, shooting a plus-5 77, which included an eagle and a birdie, but also two double-bogeys and four bogeys. "(Scodro) had a chance to go four-under (Sunday), but today he just started so poorly," Kubinski said. "I think he'll come back tomorrow and eliminate some of those silly little mistakes that really cost him." Sandman has been more consistent in his two rounds, posting a 75 and a 74, putting him in a tie for 32nd place with Scodro at 5-over for the tournament. Sandman recorded three birdies on the back nine in his second round, including two in the last three holes, to keep the Irish within range of Central Florida and Pepperdine, who finished the second round in 9th and 10th place. Also scoring for the Irish were junior Connor Alan-Lee and sophomore Chris Walker. Both counted a four-over 76 on the first day of the tournament, putting them in a tie for 51st place after day one. Alan-Lee bounced back on Monday, tying Sandman for the team-best. Alan-Lee currently sits in 37th place, while Walker, after shooting a 77 in the second round, remains in a tie for 51st. Notre Dame's top performer from last season, senior Doug Fortner, had neither of his rounds counted for the Irish. He shot a five-over 77 in the first round followed by a six-over 78 in the second, which puts him in a tie for 56th place. "(Fortner) hasn't played his best golf this fall," Kubinski said. "He's struggled a little bit with his irons. We need him to step up and give us a good solid score tomorrow." The Irish will finish The Prestige today, teeing off in a shotgun start at 7:30 a.m. Pacific Standard Time. "Our goal is seventh," Kubinski said. "We're 12 back, and seventh would put us at 6-6 for the tournament, and we'll take 6-6. If we play a good one tomorrow, and maybe one or two teams stub their toe a little bit, we can move right up."


The Observer

ND Women's Soccer: Notre Dame takes road matches against Rutgers, Seton Hall

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Notre Dame made a strong claim for Big East supremacy this weekend with two shutout victories on the road against conference foes. The No. 8 Irish (10-3-1, 6-0-1 Big East) handed No. 10 Rutgers (9-2-3, 3-1-2) its first conference loss Friday, leaving Notre Dame as the lone undefeated Big East team with only a few weeks left on the conference slate. "We have two or three big weekends coming up," Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. "We aren't through this tough stretch completely yet, but we are sitting five points clear of Rutgers now, which gives us some breathing room." Neither the Irish nor the Scarlet Knights found the back of the net for most of the game, but with barely six minutes remaining in regulation, junior midfielder Lauren Fowlkes delivered a shot past the Rutgers goalie. Freshman defender Jazmin Hall assisted on the goal. "It was a world-class goal," Waldrum said of Fowlkes' game-winner. "Jazmin got down the left side late in the game and served a cross that Lauren hit first time from 12 or 15 yards out. It was a great way to finish off that game." After the goal, the Irish knew the Scarlet Knights would attack with everything but the kitchen sink, but Notre Dame did not change its gameplan. "We had to decide if we wanted to drop back defensively for the rest of the game or stay the way we were," Waldrum said. "We opted to stay how we were. We didn't want to spend six minutes in a defensive shell to just absorb pressure." The victory extended Notre Dame's NCAA-record unbeaten streak against conference opponents to 58 games and its conference road unbeaten streak to 25 games - both streaks would be lengthened by one more game after the victory over Seton Hall. "Winning on the road there is big," Waldrum said. "It is a very tough to place to play. In the first half they outplayed us. We did not do a good job of matching their intensity. In that second half we were much better at taking over the game."


The Observer

ND Volleyball: Team beats Big East rivals

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Coming into play on Saturday, only two teams could lay claim to undefeated records in the Big East. But after the dust settled following a weekend of intense action, the Irish stand alone atop the Big East rankings without a loss to their name. Notre Dame (11-4, 5-0 Big East) completed a sweep of the home stand with victories over previously undefeated Cincinnati and highly-touted Louisville, extending its winning streak to five games. The Irish have won eight of their last nine matches dating back to their victory against Wisconsin over a month ago. "We're going to certainly enjoy this weekend because it was big for us," Irish coach Debbie Brown said, "but we have such a huge target on our back and every team in the Big East is going to be fired up to beat us. We can't for a second think that we accomplished anything. It's going to have that attitude of just making sure that we're really mentally prepared, physically prepared for every part that we have." In the battle of the undefeateds, the Irish handed Cincinnati (13-8, 4-1) their first conference loss of the season in a thrilling five-set affair (25-22, 25-19, 20-25, 23-25, 15-10). Senior outside hitter Serinity Phillips recorded her 1,000th career kill en route to her total of 17 against the Bearcats, becoming the 18th player in program history to reach the historic mark. "I think our senior class has definitely stepped up and we've definitely focused on our game," Phillips said. "I think that shows up on the court and so I do think there's a big emphasis on experience." Facing their first test as the lone unbeaten team in the conference, the Irish showed any remaining doubters that they will be a force to be reckoned with as the season rolls on. Donning pink jerseys, the Irish cruised past Louisville in four sets (25-16, 21-25, 25-16, 25-21) in front of a home crowd of 1,746 who came to support the program's "Dig Pink" initiative. "The support from the community is just huge, and obviously it's for a great cause," Brown said. "I think they were treated to some good volleyball, but just to have that kind of support for anything raising awareness for something that's so important to all of us was huge. Having the band there really highlights the atmosphere, and it was just really fun for the players and the staff to be in that type of environment." Phillips and senior outside hitter Christina Kaelin led the way for the Irish, combining for 32 kills, five blocks, and 35.5 points. Despite a lackluster effort in the second set that saw the Irish commit nine errors, the Irish were able to rebound to hold the Cardinals (10-8, 3-2) to a .101 hitting percentage overall. "One of the things that happened in the second set was our ball control wasn't real good, so we weren't passing very well and we were having to rely solely on our outside hitters," Brown said. "I think in games three and four we did a lot better job with our ball control, and I think we served really aggressively and kept them out of the system." Notre Dame takes its undefeated record on the road as they travel to Pittsburgh next Saturday in pursuit of a regular season conference title.


The Observer

Hockey: Split Decision

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After a tough opening night loss, Notre Dame rebounded like you could only hope the No. 5 team in the country would. The Irish (1-1-0, 0-0-0 CCHA) fell to Alabama-Huntsville (1-1-0, 0-0-0 CHA) 3-2 on Friday night on a goal with 5.4 seconds left in the game, but came back Saturday and beat the Chargers 3-1. "We did a much better job in the third [period Saturday], though," Irish coach Jeff Jackson said. "I thought the guys played with a lot more determination and executed the little things we need to do against this team." Things started off well enough for Notre Dame Friday night, as freshman center Riley Sheahan scored a goal on his first collegiate shot 3:02 into the first period. On the powerplay, sophomore left wing Billy Maday fed Sheahan at the left side of the net and the rookie calmly fired the puck past Charger goalie Cameron Talbot for the score. "I liked what I saw out of [Sheahan] tonight for his first college game," Jackson said. The score remained 1-0 in favor of Notre Dame until 13:13 into the second period, when Tom Train tied the score for Alabama-Huntsville. Train collected the rebound from a Vince Bruni shot and slid the puck past Irish junior goalie Brad Phillips, who was making his first start since Jan. 19, 2008, after missing all of last season due to injury. Jackson said that he was pleased with the way Phillips played, but that the team defensive effort left something to be desired. "We didn't do a good job defensively in front of [Phillips]," Jackson said. "I thought we were cheating too much offensively." Just under three minutes later, freshman Kyle Palmieri put Notre Dame back on top on a powerplay one-timer from the left circle that got past Talbot's glove. The Irish took a 2-1 lead into the second intermission, but 8:01 into the final stanza, Justin Cseter knotted it up at two when he pushed home the rebound from an initial Train shot. With 2:44 left in the game, Notre Dame senior right wing Ryan Thang got whistled for interference when he got tied up with an Alabama-Huntsville player after the faceoff. The Irish killed off the penalty, but as Thang was skating back to the bench, he slipped and appeared to bring down a Charger player. The referee sent Thang back to the box for tripping, but Jackson was displeased with the call.


The Observer

Transfer Martin tears ACL, out for season

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 Junior guard Scott Martin tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and will miss the 2009-10 season, the athletic department said Monday. Martin tore his ACL during a preseason workout on Oct. 1, the statement said. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exams Monday confirmed the injury.  "I am very disappointed for Scott," coach Mike Brey said in the statement. "He had worked so hard last season in practices and in the weight room improving his overall strength and getting himself ready to be a big part of our lineup this season. We are expecting Scott to make a full recovery and he will use this year to rehabilitate his knee in preparation for the 2010-11 season." The statement said Martin will have surgery during the week of Oct. 19. Martin transferred in June 2008 from Purdue, where he averaged 8.5 points and 3.8 rebounds per game during the 2007-2008 season. He sat out last season because of the NCAA transfer rules.  "Scott Martin is going to be a very good player here at Notre Dame," Brey said. "It's now just going to be a little bit longer wait before we can get him on the court."


The Observer

Commentary: A blowout win? Wouldn't bet on it

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 The fall break destination of choice this year seems to be Las Vegas - a place where anyone, but especially vacationing college students, is prone to bad decisions. It is the Sin City, after all. I'm not worried that any of our classmates will steal a police squad car. I don't think any Notre Dame students will have a run-in with Mike Tyson. And I doubt anyone will wake up on the roof of Caesars Palace - where, as "The Hangover" taught us, Julius Caesar didn't actually live.  No, I don't expect to hear about any antics quite that outrageous. But that doesn't eliminate my concern that some overzealous Irish fans will follow their hearts, not their heads, and place a bet on their favorite football team. Don't do it - you'll get burned. It's not that Notre Dame isn't a good team. It's not even that Notre Dame isn't as good a team as everyone - or at least the fans and oddsmakers - seem to think. It's just that this group always seems to be in those nail-biters that, as the last three weeks have illustrated, can easily go either way. To their credit, the Irish finally demonstrated at Purdue that they could survive one of those down-to-the-wire, don't-change-the-channel games, and they did it with a hobbled quarterback and missing pieces at running back and wide receiver. That doesn't change the fact, however, that it took several losses - North Carolina, Pittsburgh and Syracuse last season, and Michigan a few weeks ago - for Notre Dame to steal a win. At this point, diagnosing exactly why the Irish always seem to find themselves in these types of games seems like a futile exercise. Even if you can attribute it to something - be it a soft pass defense, an inconsistent second-half offense or an overall lack of a killer instinct - how do you change it? That's not to say Notre Dame won't try, and of course it should. But unless the Irish somehow figure out a way to stop the run without surrendering the short pass, find the key to start the offensive ignition coming out of halftime and discover a new attitude that motivates the team to thrash opponents mercilessly, there will be plenty more contests that will come down to one play late in the game.