The Notre Dame contingent pose for a picture during the Japan trip.

Irish Conclude Japan Trip

June 11, 2010

The Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team recently concluded a weeklong trip to Japan. The Irish left on June 2 and returned to the United States on June 10. John Heisler, Senior Associate Athletics Director for Media and Broadcast Relations at Notre Dame, blogged during the journey. Below are his final three reports.

Tuesday, June 8

It was back to the lacrosse field today with something of a “back to the future” theme, as the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team won three games against Japanese college squads — with most of the Irish graduated seniors watching in street clothes.

The Irish took a half-hour bus ride to a massive 10-field complex anchored by the Ota City Baseball Stadium (where a baseball tournament was going on at the same time) on a cloudy, 69-degree afternoon. The lacrosse games were held at a soccer-rugby stadium with artificial turf. Seniors other than goaltender Brendan Moore (he was needed because Colt Power was sick and Scott Rodgers did not dress) watched from the stands. All games were played with orange balls.

In the 1:00 p.m. game against maroon-helmeted Waseda (four 15-minute running time periods), Notre Dame prevailed 11-1, with John Kemp playing the first half and Moore the second in goal. The Irish led 3-1 after one period, 6-1 at half and 7-1 after three periods. Ryan Foley had two goals, as did Patrick Maloney – and Colin Igoe, Steve Murphy, David Earl, Nick Beattie, Taylor Tripucka, Mike Rogers and Max Pfeifer added single goals.

After a 15-minute break, the Irish took on orange-helmeted Hosei and prevailed in that one 12-0 (two 20-miute running time halves), as Igoe notched three goals, Beattie and Sean Rogers two each (also scoring were Zach Brenneman, Patrick Maloney, Ty Kimball, Foley and Andy Will). Kemp and Moore again split the time in the cage. All the games featured two young ladies on the Japanese sideline holding signs with numbers for plays and calling out the strategy.

After another 10-minute break, Notre Dame responded to its toughest assignment of the day by overcoming a 3-1 halftime deficit to defeat Keio (white jerseys, blue and red helmets) 7-3. With three members of the national team on the roster, Keio dominated the opening half. But the Irish scored the only six goals of the second half – as Kimball, Mike Rogers, Igoe, Brenneman, Tripucka and Pfeifer accounted for the scoring (Foley had the only first-half score for Notre Dame). Kemp and Moore again combined in goal.

Once the three games had ended a massive trading session ensued, with the Japanese players willing to trade shirts, pennies, shorts and jackets for anything that said Notre Dame.

Back in the hotel lobby, Irish coach Kevin Corrigan held an impromptu coaching roundtable with a handful of the Japanese coaches. The Irish squad concluded the evening with a pasta dinner at a restaurant adjacent to the hotel.

The Irish contingent didn’t stay for the end of the baseball game Monday night, but woke to find a record-breaking performance has been witnessed. Chibe tied a Pacific League record with 10 straight hits in the 10-run inning that broke up a tight ballgame and enabled Chibe to defeat the homestanding Yakult Swallows 14-2 in front of a very vocal crowd of 16,551 fans. Tae-Kyun Kim had the grand-slam home run that cinched the verdict and Sabuso Omura had a solo home run. Chibe remains in first place (34-20-1) in the Pacific League, while the Swallows are in last place (15-34-2) in the Central League.

About 25 members of the Notre Dame group left the hotel at 6:15 this morning to see the Tokyo fish market. Though the even-earlier-in the-morning fish auction has been scaled back in terms of access to visitors, market spectators were able to wander amidst all sorts of fish and hundreds of vendors in the hectic market scene.

Wednesday, June 9

Another early morning trip – this time involving sumo wrestling – provided one of the highlights of the trip today. The Irish men’s lacrosse players and coaches left the hotel at 6:30 a.m. and took the subway to view about 45 minutes worth of practice involving a stable of some 16 wrestlers. The matches began and ended with lightning quickness, as the combatants fire out at each other with overwhelming force. Irish goalie Scott Rodgers might come the closest of the current Irish to filling the bill in terms of heft, but as one of his teammates offered, “He’s just a puppy compared to those guys.”

With the lacrosse competition concluded, the Irish enjoyed the rest of the day on their own touring around Tokyo – then gathered for dinner at Roti, a Roppongi brasserie. Joining the Irish group were a handful of Notre Dame alumni from Tokyo as well as a number of Japan Lacrosse Association representatives.

The Notre Dame contingent heads home on Thursday, with one flight to New York leaving mid-afternoon and a second flight to Chicago featuring a smaller group of coaches, family and staffers leaving a few hours later.

Just in case you’d like to consider a foreign trip to Japan for lacrosse, the person to contact is JLA director Yusuke Sasaki (

Thursday, June 10

The Notre Dame contingent enjoyed its final bountiful buffet breakfast this morning at the Tokyo Prince, with all sorts of fish, miso soup and other Japanese options, in addition to more western choices like sausage, bacon, pancakes and delightful pastries.

The larger group flying Delta to New York left the hotel via bus at 10:30 a.m. The smaller group headed to Chicago carved out two more hours of shopping in the Ginza district, taking a quick, two-stop, 170-yen subway ride. Ginza featured a row of the largest department stores in Japan, plus recent favorite Uniqlo (and an outlet at the Narita airport) – and even an adidas store that sold “Impossible Is Nothing” shirts in Japanese.

Everybody had their own favorite food finds during the trip. Some of those included tasty, hot cinnamon pastries for 100 yen each in the Daimon subway stop; the huge bowl of ramen noodles with spicy bean sprouts in the Narita airport; rice with curry beef stew and an egg on top; and Brendan Moore’s sampling of cooked pigeon eggs during his Japanese home stay.

By 7:30 p.m. EDT the Irish group that flew through Chicago had arrived on campus – and the nine-day, six-game (and six-victory) Notre Dame Oriental lacrosse sojourn had officially come to a close.