Blue and Gold Illustrated

August 2022

Blue & Gold Illustrated: America's Foremost Authority on Notre Dame Football

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BLUEGOLDONLINE.COM AUGUST 2022 51 Day date with high-powered Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl. A nearly perfect performance in the first half sent Notre Dame to a 28-7 sec- ond-quarter lead and Freeman to a pre- mature anointment as the perfect hire. Fortunes and perceptions changed in the third quarter when Notre Dame was outscored 17-0 on its way to allowing 30 straight points in a 37-35 loss to the Cowboys. It marked the 10th straight defeat for the Irish in elite bowl games, a well-pub- licized drought that dates back to a win over Texas A&M in the 1994 Cotton Bowl. SURPRISING STAFF SHUFFLE When Kelly chose to leave Notre Dame for LSU, he reportedly invited Freeman, as well as Notre Dame of- fensive coordinator Tommy Rees and strength coordinator Matt Balis to ride along with him to Baton Rouge. All three declined, stayed together and stayed put. As expected, former Irish special teams coordinator Brian Polian, of- fensive line coach Jeff Quinn and wide receivers coach Del Alexander were not retained and needed to be replaced. Beyond that, all seemed in order until a span of three weeks in January, when running backs coach Lance Taylor be- came the Louisville offensive coordina- tor, defensive line coach Mike Elston made a lateral move to his alma mater Michigan, and tight ends coach John McNulty became offensive coordinator at Boston College. In all, Freeman unexpectedly replaced seven of the 10 position coaches from last season, including the void he left for him- self as previous linebackers coach/defen- sive coordinator when he took the top job. GET UP AND GO In one of the more remarkable feats from the 2021-22 athletic season, Irish senior Dylan Jacobs overcame an early spill in the 10K race at the 2022 NCAA Championships, raced from behind, passed the leader on the final lap and claimed the national title. Jacobs posted an overall time of 28:12.32 with an impressive final lap time of 55.45 to join Notre Dame dis- tance legend Ryan Shay (2001) as the only two Irish runners to ever win an individual title in the 10K. ✦ 1. Karina Gaskins (softball) — The terrific first baseman gathered plenty of honors after her stellar sophomore season. She led the Irish with a .428 batting average, 13 home runs and 61 RBI, and set a Notre Dame record with a .555 on-base percentage. By season's end — a year Gaskins helped lead her team to 40 wins — she became the ACC Player of the Year and a second-team All-American by both and Softball America. Gaskins had 15 multi-hit games, 19 multi-RBI outings and a team-best 13-game hitting streak. 2. Olivia Miles (basketball) — A unique player who came to Notre Dame as an early enrollee in January 2021 and played in the final six games that season, Miles became the face and the heartbeat of the program during her first full season in 2021-22. Thirty double-digit scoring games, first-team All- ACC honors, Associated Press All-America honorable mention recognition, and a No. 2 Freshman Ranking by ESPN all bol - stered a case for Miles as the best freshman to ever play at Notre Dame. Historically speaking, Miles became the first men's or women's player in NCAA Tournament history to record a triple-double as a freshman. In her tournament debut, Miles hit UMass for 12 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists. And, with averages of 14.0 points, 9.7 assists and 8.0 rebounds in three NCAA Tournament games, Miles nearly averaged a triple-double in the event. 3. Kaylin Hsieh (fencing) — Arguably the MVP of Notre Dame's 12th national championship fencing team, Hsieh captured the first NCAA women's epee individual title for the Irish in eight years. The epee specialist posted a dominating 21-2 record in the NCAA Championships to improve her career record to 71-12. Hsieh was named ACC Fencer of the Year for women's epee and a team MVP last season, while she also earned ACC All- Academic honors. 4. Sammi Fisher (soccer) — Playing her final season of a terrific career in 2021, the talented midfielder didn't leave anything on the field when she easily paced the Irish with 13 goals, 32 points, 63 shots and 6 assists. Fisher's 13 goals ranked third in the ACC and 18th nationally, and four of her scores were game-winners. A first-team All-ACC selection as a player, and an ACC All- Academic honoree as a student, Fisher finished her Notre Dame career with 73 points on 29 goals and 15 assists. Fisher was selected 19th overall by the Chicago Red Stars in the 2021 NWSL Draft. 5. Aubrey Hamilton (volleyball) — Playing in her second and final season at Notre Dame in 2021, this 6-foot-2 outside hitter paced the Irish as a sophomore with 316 kills and 354 points scored. Hamilton, an ACC All-Freshman honoree in 2020-21, added 85 digs and 48 blocks last year. Following a Notre Dame volleyball head coach - ing change this offseason, Hamilton trans- ferred to Marquette. — Todd D. Burlage Karina Gaskins was tabbed as the ACC Player of the Year after hitting .428 with 13 home runs and 61 runs batted in. PHOTO BY JEFF PALICKI PHOTOGRAPHY Dylan Jacobs became the second ever men's outdoor national champion in the 10,000 meters in school history. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS 2021-22 Female Athletes of the Year

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