May 29, 2009
Notre Dame, Ind. – For the first time in the 13-year history of the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse program, the Fighting Irish have had two players selected first team Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches’ Association (IWLCA)/US Lacrosse All-American and a total of four players selected across the first two All-American teams.
Selected first team All-American for the first time in their careers are seniors Jillian Byers (Northport, N.Y.) and Shannon Burke (Timonium, Md.) while teammates Shaylyn Blaney (So., Stony Brook, N.Y.) and Gina Scioscia (Jr., Summit, N.J.) were chosen second team All-Americans for the first time. By being named first team, Byers becomes the first four-time All-American in the program’s history after being named second team for the first three years of her career.
“In a season that was full of brilliant moments and record setting achievements, having four players named to the 2009 IWLCA/US Lacrosse All-American team is another notable milestone for our program,” said head coach Tracy Coyne.
“This type of individual recognition only happens when the team plays well. Our success in 2009 can be directly attributed to the outstanding leadership and commitment Jill (Byers), Shannon (Burke), Gina (Scioscia) and Shaylyn (Blaney) have demonstrated to our team goals. It is a tremendous honor for them and I believe they are truly deserving of the recognition.”
The IWLCA and US Lacrosse will honor the National All-Americans at an awards banquet on June 13, 2009 in King of Prussia, Pa.
In choosing the student-athletes for this recognition, the IWLCA has strict nominating guidelines that must be adhered to by all member institutions. The 2009 All-Regional and All-American honorees have met both the nominating and selection criteria.
Before being named to the national All-American teams, Byers, Burke, Blaney and Scioscia were selected to the first team IWLCA West/Midwest Regional Team where they were joined on the second team by junior defender Rachel Guerrera (Wantagh, N.Y.). In all, 128 Division I women’s lacrosse players were chosen to either the Mid-Atlantic, South or West/Midwest regional teams and were eligible for selection to the All-American teams.
The five Notre Dame players chosen as regional selections were the second highest total for the Irish in the program’s history as they had six players named to the all-Regional team (three first team and three second team) following the 2006 season.
Byers capped her brilliant Notre Dame career by being named first team All-American for the 2009 season and becomes the fourth first team All-American in the program’s history. She also was selected first team all-Region in each of her four years with the Irish.
A finalist for the Tewaaraton Trophy and a candidate for the Honda Sports Award, Byers set a Notre Dame single-season record for goals (83) and draw controls (55) in a season while recording career highs in assists (28), points (111), ground balls (34) and caused turnovers (26). The 83 goals ranked her second in the nation and the 111 points were third best in the country.
A four-time unanimous first team all-BIG EAST selection, she was the BIG EAST co-attack player of the year as she led the conference in goals and was second in points.
For her career, Byers, the 2009 team captain and team Most Valuable Player, is Notre Dame’s all-time leader in games played (76), goals (262), points (336) and draw controls (154). She is the BIG EAST’s all-time leader in goals for a single season (31 in 2009) and career goals with 78. Her 42 points this season are the second-highest single-season total and her 101 career points are the second-best total in BIG EAST history. During her senior year, Byers set the conference’s single-game point mark with 12 (seven goals and five assists) in an April 18 win over Connecticut. In NCAA history, she ranks sixth all-time in goals with 262 and 10th in career points with 336.
Sophomore Shaylyn Blaney was selected as a 2009 second team IWLCA All-American. She finished the year with 44 goals and 47 points from her midfield position.
Burke becomes the fifth player in Notre Dame history (and the first defender) to be selected first team All-American. She became one of the BIG EAST’s most dominant defensive players over the last two seasons. This year, she was a first team all-BIG EAST selection and a first team all-region pick. In 2008, Burke was a second team all-BIG EAST defender and selected second team all-region.
In 2009, Burke served as a team captain and turned in career highs in ground balls (60) and caused turnovers (44), setting a Notre Dame single-season record in that category while her 34 draw controls were fifth on the team. A four-time monogram winner and three-year starter, Burke was selected by her teammates as the winner of the team’s 2002 Award as the team’s top defensive player.
During the season, Burke had 16 games with two or more ground balls and caused turnovers in 17 of 21 games on the season. In the final regular season game of the year versus Cornell, she set career highs with six ground balls and six caused turnovers with the turnovers tying a Notre Dame school record in that category.
For her career, she finished third on the all-time ground ball list with 139, was third in draw controls with 124 and was second, just one off the school record of 107, with 106 career caused turnovers.
Blaney, a sophomore midfielder, was a second team IWLCA/US Lacrosse All-American for the first time in her career. A first team all-BIG EAST selection, she was fourth on the Irish in goals (44) and points (47). A first team West/Midwest all-region choice, the all-around midfielder tied for seventh on the team with 31 ground balls, was second with 46 draw controls and fifth with 16 caused turnovers.
A second team all-BIG EAST and all-region choice as a freshman in 2008, Blaney is already among Notre Dame’s top 10 players in several categories – goals (8th with 87), points (10th with 99) and draw controls (9th with 88).
Junior Gina Scioscia was a second team IWLCA All-American after finishing fifth in the nation in scoring with 53 goals and 43 assists for 96 points.
Joining Blaney as a second team All-American was Scioscia who teamed with Byers to give Notre Dame one of the top 1-2 scoring duos in the nation. The junior finished second on the team in goals (53), led the team with a school record 43 assists and was second in points with 96. The 53 goals were the sixth best single-season total for the Irish while her 96 points was the third highest point total in the program’s history. She was fifth in the NCAA in points and sixth in assists for the year.
Scioscia was a second team all-BIG EAST choice in 2009 as she finished seventh in the conference in goals, second in assists and third in points. Notre Dame’s top playmaker, Scioscia continues to improve each season. After recording eight points (4g, 4a) as a freshman, she had a 47-point improvement in 2008 as a sophomore when she had 20 goals and 35 assists for 55 points. This season she scored 33 more goals and eight more assists, giving her just a 41-point improvement over her sophomore season. She had points in 20 of the team’s 21 games, including 17 with four or more points.
Junior defender Rachel Guerrera was one of five Irish players named to the IWLCA West/Midwest regional team. The tough, tenacious defender was a second team choice.
In just three seasons, Scioscia has become Notre Dame’s all-time assist leader with 82 while ranking ninth in goals (77) and sixth in points (159). Her 82 career assists will put her among the active leaders in the NCAA when the 2010 season starts.
Rounding out Notre Dame’s list of honorees was Guerrera who was selected second team West/Midwest Region for the first time in her career. The junior defender has been a two-year starter on the Irish back line and has proven to be one of the best one-v.-one defenders in the conference. She is Notre Dame’s top match-up defender and has excelled in that role.
“I am very pleased that Rachel (Guerrera) has been recognized as one of the best defenders in our region. She did an outstanding job in her role as our top match up defender,” said Coyne.
“She’s a relentless competitor who thrives on the challenge of her defensive assignments. Rachel played great in the BIG EAST Tournament and was a key reason behind winning our first title. She is very deserving of this honor.”
Guerrera recorded career highs in ground balls (33) and caused turnovers (22). Her best game this season came versus Louisville in BIG EAST action when she had career highs with five ground balls and five caused turnovers to go with two draw controls while limiting the Cardinals to just eight goals in the game.
An all-BIG EAST tournament selection, she was a key member of a defensive unit that ranked 13th in ground balls and 16th in caused turnovers on the season.
Notre Dame set a school record during the 2009 season with 16 wins in a 16-5 campaign and won their first-ever BIG EAST Tournament. The Irish were ranked sixth in the IWLCA coaches’ poll and advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in the last four seasons. They knocked off Vanderbilt in the first round before falling to North Carolina in the quarterfinals.