NOTRE DAME, Ind. – What were the most noteworthy achievements involving University of Notre Dame athletics in 2009?
If you ask visitors to und.com, you’ll find that they are as impressed with Notre Dame student-athlete accomplishments in the classroom as they are on the playing fields. At least that’s the result of on-line voting based on a list of 24 Irish athletic achievements from the 2009 calendar year.
From late December through mid-January, visitors to und.com had a chance to vote for their five moments – and below are the events (in order) that made the final top 10 list.
Thanks for your participation – and stay tuned to und.com for more upcoming chances to look back at the past decade in Notre Dame athletics.
1. Notre Dame Leads the Nation (Again) in Graduation Rates
Irish finish with 99 Graduation Success Rate figure, best among 120 NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision programs.
2. Golden Tate Wins Biletnikoff Award as Nation’s Top Receiver
He is unanimous first-team All-American, finishes with 93 receptions for 1,496 yards and 15 receiving touchdowns in 2009, totals 1,915 all-purpose yards, and equals or surpasses eight school records this year, including most catches and receiving yards in a season, tied for most TD catches in a season, most receiving yards in a career, most 100-yard receiving games in a season and career, most receiving yards per game in a season and tied for most consecutive games with a TD reception.
3. Women’s Soccer Returns to ’09 NCAA College Cup
Irish rebound from 3-3 start to go 18-0-1 over one stretch and make it to Women’s College Cup for the fourth straight year.
4. Hockey Squad Wins 31 Regular-Season Games
Irish rank second in the nation and claim their second CCHA regular-season and postseason titles in three years, with Ian Cole earning first-team All-America honors.
5. Brian Kelly is Named 29th Head Football Coach
He brings 19-season record of 171-57-2 after stints at Cincinnati, Central Michigan and Grand Valley State, including two BCS berths in ’08 and ’09.
6. Muffet McGraw Wins Her 500th Game at Notre Dame
Thanks to the 84-79 win vs. #23 San Diego State Nov. 26 at the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands, she joins Mike DeCicco, Yves Auriol and Jake Kline as the only coaches in any sport to win 500 games at Notre Dame during the University’s 122-year athletics history.
7. Irish Dominate Conference Play, Winning Titles in 12 Sports
Notre Dame takes home trophies in hockey (CCHA regular season and postseason tournament), men’s swimming and diving, women’s swimming and diving, men’s lacrosse (Great Western Lacrosse League regular season and postseason tournament), women’s lacrosse (postseason tournament), rowing, softball (postseason tournament), women’s tennis, men’s outdoor track and field, men’s soccer (BIG EAST division regular season), women’s soccer (regular season and postseason tournament) and volleyball (regular season)
8. Jimmy Clausen Becomes Notre Dame’s Most Efficient Passer Ever
Irish junior ranks second nationally in passing efficiency, throws for 3,722 yards with 28 TDs and only four interceptions in 2009 and sets a school record by passing for at least 300 yards in seven games. Clausen leaves Notre Dame ranked first or second in 32 passing categories, including tops in career completion percentage, completions per game for a career and tied for first in lowest interception percentage over a career.
9. Fencing Teams Are NCAA Runner-Up for Second Straight Year
Gerek Meinhardt (foil runner-up), Ewa Nelip, Courtney Hurley and Hayley Reese (foil runner-up) all earn first-team All-America honors as Irish finish fourth or higher at NCAA meet for 16th straight season. It’s coach Janusz Bednarski’s fifth top-three finish in three years, as both the men (33-0) and women (30-2) finish regular season ranked number one.
10. Randy Waldrum is Soccer America National Coach of the Year
After eight regional and eight other conference citations, he finally wins his first national award.
Women’s Tennis Advances to NCAA Team Semifinals
It’s Notre Dame’s best finish ever at Division I level, as Jay Louderback’s fifth-ranked squad eliminates Illinois-Chicago, #17 Michigan, #12 Clemson and #4 Baylor in NCAA play to finish 28-5 and ranked number five.
Men’s Lax Posts a 15-0 Regular Season Behind Nation’s Best Defense
Notre Dame goaltender Scott Rodgers leads the nation in goals-against average and save percentage as Kevin Corrigan’s crew wins both regular-season and tournament titles in Great Western Lacrosse League and puts together 25-game home win streak.
Women’s Swimming Wins 13th Straight BIG EAST Title
No team in any sport has ever accomplished that in history of the BIG EAST, with Notre Dame breaking 11 school records in the process.
Notre Dame Opens the Doors to Three New Athletic Facilities
Purcell Pavilion (the refurbished Joyce Center arena), Arlotta Stadium for lacrosse and Alumni Stadium for soccer.
Tim Welsh Wins CSCAA Distinguished Service Award
After 35 years of coaching and service, the current Irish men’s swimming and diving coach is also the current president of the American Swimming Coaches Association.
Kelcy Tefft is ITA National Senior Player of the Year
She and rookie Kristy Frilling are the #2 seeds nationally in doubles in the NCAA bracket, and Tefft is the BIG EAST Player of the Year and the first Irish player to earn all-league honors four straight years.
Patrick Smyth is 4th in 10,000 Meters at NCAA Outdoor Championship
He finishes his Notre Dame career as a seven-time All-American: four in track, three in cross country.
Volleyball Team Claims Perfect 14-0 BIG EAST Regular Season
It’s the seventh time Notre Dame finishes unbeaten in BIG EAST Conference regular-season play, the first time since the league schedule includes 14 matches.
Football Amazingly Plays 10 Games Decided by Seven Points or Fewer
That may never have happened before in college football history, considering the Irish had never had more than six of those margins in a season until 2009.
Women’s Lacrosse Has Banner Season
Notre Dame is 16-5 overall, wins its first BIG EAST title, advances to the NCAA quarterfinals and finishes the year ranked sixth in the nation, its highest season-ending ranking ever. The Irish have four All-Americans – including first-teamers Jill Byers and Shannon Burke, while Byers becomes the program’s first four-time All-American and finishes as the school’s all-time leading scorer while finishing in the top 10 all-time in the NCAA in goals and points.
Former Hockey Player Mark Eaton Puts His Name on Stanley Cup
He played for the Irish as a freshman in 1997-98, accounted for 29 points that year and was named the CCHA rookie of the year, then this year ranked third in scoring in the playoffs this year among defensemen on the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins (four goals, three assists).
Dramatic Comeback Gives Men’s Swimming and Diving BIG EAST Title
Notre Dame comes into the final event of the meet as a seven-second underdog to Louisville in 400 freestyle relay and defeats the Cardinals in spectacular fashion to claim the conference championship (for the second straight year).
Muffet McGraw Claims WBCA Carol Eckman Award
The award is presented annually to an active WBCA coach who exemplifies Eckman’s spirit, integrity and character through sportsmanship, commitment to the student-athlete, honesty, ethical behavior, courage and dedication to purpose. It’s named in honor of the late Carol Eckman, the former West Chester (Pa.) State College coach who is considered the “Mother of the Women’s Collegiate Basketball Championship.”
Rowing Squad Claims Sixth Consecutive BIG EAST Conference Title
Notre Dame league domination in this sport continues as it takes home four of six gold medals.