Jan. 2, 2009

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – As 2008 fades into the gloaming and 2009 begins, here’s a look back at the best of the ’08 calendar year in terms of University of Notre Dame athletics accomplishments.

Three different Fighting Irish programs finished as ’08 NCAA runners-up:

  • The hockey team did it for the first time ever, eliminating top seed Michigan in the semifinals, then taking on Boston College in the title game.
  • The women’s soccer team didn’t lose a game during the regular season, spent almost the entire fall ranked number one – and played North Carolina in the ’08 NCAA championship game. It marked Notre Dame’s 10th trip to the College Cup semifinals in the last 15 years — and its seventh appearance in the title game.
  • The combined men’s and women’s fencing teams finished second overall in the ’08 NCAA championship standings to Ohio State. It marked the 15th straight season Notre Dame has finished fourth or better in the NCAA event.

Here’s our stab at a top 10 list for 2008, with a handful of others that we couldn’t leave out entirely. Our apologies in advance if we left out someone you think belongs – or underrated an accomplishment you think belongs higher.

Feel free to chime in with your own thoughts

— Top 10 Moments in University of Notre Dame Athletics in 2008 . . . .

1700601.jpeg1.(tie) Irish Hockey Plays for 2008 National Title in Only Third NCAA Appearance – Jeff Jackson’s squad follows up lengthy ’07 stay at #1 with ’08 NCAA wins vs. New Hampshire, Michigan State and #1 seed Michigan
2504756.jpeg1.(tie) Irish Women’s Soccer Plays for 2008 NCAA Title (Again) — Kerri Hanks and Carrie Dew are first-team All-Americans, with Brittany Bock on second team, as Irish produce first-ever perfect regular season
2108976.jpeg3. Jack Swarbrick is New Irish Athletics Director – Kevin White Goes to Duke – ’76 Notre Dame Graduate Swarbrick Named on July 16, 2008
1019264.jpeg4. Irish Fencing is 2008 NCAA Runner-up (Again); Kelly Hurley (Epee) and Sarah Borrmann (Sabre) Win NCAA Titles – Best Notre Dame finish since NCAA title in 2005
2612695.jpeg5. Luke Harangody is BIG EAST Player of Year and First-Team All-American – and Irish Set BIG EAST Record by Going Unbeaten for Second Straight Year — Mike Brey is BIG EAST Coach of the Year for second straight year as Irish advance to NCAA second round
1880930.jpeg6. Irish Women’s Basketball Goes to NCAA Sweet 16 (Again) – Notre Dame knocks out SMU and #13 Oklahoma in NCAA play
1670883.jpeg7. Irish Women’s Swimming Wins BIG EAST Record 12th Straight League Title – No school in any sport has accomplished that in BIG EAST history
joycecenterbb.jpg8. Notre Dame Athletics Facilities Updates Ongoing: Melissa Cook Softball Stadium Opens; Ground Broken for New Irish Soccer, Lacrosse and Track Facilities; LaBar Football Practice Complex Opens; Joyce Center Renovation Begins
2555645.jpeg9. Irish Student-Athletes Compile Top Graduation Rate with #1 Finish in NCAA GSR – Notre Dame records 98 mark for all student-athletes
2615469.jpeg10. Irish Football Ends Postseason Losing Streak with Impressive Sheraton Hawai’i Bowl Win – Jimmy Clausen (401 passing yards and five TD passes) and Golden Tate (six catches for 177 yards and three TDs) share MVP award

— Plus a Handful of Honorable Mention Selections . . . .

  • Nine Notre Dame Athletes Participate in 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing – and Three Come Away with Gold: Mariel Zagunis in Fencing, and Kate Markgraf and Shannon Boxx in Soccer – Other competitors are Kelley Hurley and Gerek Meinhardt in fencing, Candace Chapman and Melissa Tancredi in soccer, Thomas Chamney and Selim Nurudeen in track and field
  • Former Irish Pitcher Brad Lidge Helps Philadelphia Phillies to ’08 World Series Title – He finishes perfect season with 41 regular-season saves and seven more in postseason
  • Irish Men’s Lacrosse Finishes 5th, Wins Great Western Lacrosse League Crown and Advances to NCAA Quarterfinals – Joey Kemp is first-team All-America goaltender
  • Irish Win Seven BIG EAST Conference Titles – Women’s Swimming and Diving, Men’s Tennis, Women’s Rowing, Men’s Outdoor Track and Field, Men’s Swimming and Diving, Women’s Golf and Women’s Tennis
  • Brook Buck and Kelcy Tefft Advance to NCAA Women’s Tennis Doubles Semifinals – Best NCAA finish ever for a Notre Dame duo