March 2, 2009
Notre Dame, Ind. – They’ve been saying it for four years now … that it’s only a matter of time. Just a matter of time before Jillian Byers (Sr., Northport, N.Y.) became Notre Dame’s all-time leading point scorer. Well, time finally came on Saturday, Feb. 28 at Notre Dame’s Loftus Center when Byers (Sr., Northport, N.Y.) scored her 238th career point to move past Crysti Foote `06 as the all-time leading scorer for the Irish.
And, of course, she did it her way – by scoring goals.
Going into Saturday’s game with Stanford, Byers needed just five points to pass Foote and she got all five points by scoring five times in a 17-8 win over the Cardinal. Early on, it looked like the five points would come fast as Notre Dame’s all-time goal-scoring leader with 192 scored four consecutive goals in an 11-minute span in the first half, snapping a 2-2 tie to give the Irish a 6-2 lead with 5:52 left in the half.
From there it would take over 30 minutes to score point number five and it came on a free-position shot with 3:45 left in the game to give the Irish a 16-7 lead.
“I had been fouled two or three times and they finally called a free position shot,” explained Byers of her record-setting goal.
“There was only one defender to the left of me, leaving the entire right half of the eight-meter wide open, a goalie’s nightmare. I faked to the left and the goalie left the entire top right corner open and I shot it there. I really had no idea that I was close to breaking the record until they announced it.”
Jillian Byers (middle) with assistant coach Meredith Simon and head coach Tracy Coyne displays the ball that she scored with to set Notre Dame’s all-time point-scoring mark.
Head coach Tracy Coyne was quick to praise her three-time All-American.
“I’m really happy for Jill to see her break the points record. She’s worked hard throughout her career and it’s great to see her take her place among the best players we’ve had at Notre Dame. She’s been a great ambassador for the program and the University,” said Coyne.
She continued, “Jill was at her best on Saturday, she was totally in the flow of the game. She is an amazing athlete who made some amazing plays. When she’s at her best, she makes it look effortless.”
With the goal, Byers now has 192 career goals and 46 assists for her 238 points. What makes the record most special is that she passes her former teammate, Foote, to reach it.
“When I came here, I never thought I would have my name mentioned in the same sentence as Crysti Foote. Crysti is someone that I have looked up to for years and have tried to emulated on the lacrosse field,” said Byers.
“It’s a unique feeling to pass her for the record because I owe a lot of my success to her. She took me under her wing as a freshman and showed me what it takes to be successful. Being able to say that I played with one of the greatest players this country has ever seen is something that I will never take for granted.”
While Byers now owns the school records for goals and points she still has a few more goals to work for in this her final year.
She enters this weekend’s game at Dartmouth (March 7) ranked seventh in assists with 46. Caitlin McKinney `08 holds that record with 80 in her career. Byers is also second all-time in draw controls with 114 with that record being held by Alisa Moser `02 who had 126 in her career.
On top of that, the Irish are 3-1 this season and, like their high-scoring captain, have their sights set on bigger and better things this spring.
“The bar is set high this year and so are the expectations,” said Byers. “I want to be able to look back on this year and look down at my hand and see some sort of championship ring, whether it’s BIG EAST or a national championship. I also want to see the team come out and play OUR game. You only get four chances and I am down to may last one. I know how talented our team can be. If we execute our game plan and play – “Notre Dame Lacrosse” – I’m confident that we will be happy with the outcome.”
A three-time IWLCA second team All-American, Byers currently is second on the team in scoring with 13 goals and no assists with the 13 goals leading the team in that category. She began the year with three of the top four goal-scoring campaigns at Notre Dame, getting 54 in her freshman year (2006), 58 as a sophomore (2007) and 67 last year (2008). Foote is the only one to score more goals in a season as she scored 74 goals in the 2006 campaign.
As a junior in 2008, Byers was a unanimous first team all-BIG EAST selection for the third consecutive year when she led the Irish in scoring with 67 goals and 14 assists for 81 points, the second-best total in the program’s history. She also holds Notre Dame’s freshman scoring mark with 78 points, getting 54 goals and 24 assists during the 2006 season.
The high-scoring attack player will graduate in May from Notre Dame with a degree in Film, Television and Theatre.