Blue and Gold Illustrated

December 2023

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

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42 DECEMBER 2023 BLUE & GOLD ILLUSTRATED ND SPORTS BY TODD D. BURLAGE W ith all the life changes that Drew Bavaro has lived through the last few years, the Irish senior has a hard time believing where he is now, and how he even got to South Bend in the first place. A standout defenseman at Bent- ley University as a college freshman and sophomore, Bavaro never gave any thought to transferring away from the Boston-area school he was so fond of, let alone someday landing at Notre Dame to finish his collegiate hockey career. "If you would've told me two years ago that I'd be wearing the gold Notre Dame helmet, I would have called you insane," Bavaro said with a laugh. Everything changed when the NCAA transfer rules were altered and depart- ing players no longer had to sit out a year be- fore becoming eligible to play at their new school. "I was really fortu- nate to go to Bentley, I enjoyed my time there," Bavaro shared. "But with the new transfer rules, it just felt like for the betterment of my career it would be best to move on." Better competition, m o re n o to r i e ty, i n - creased exposure and a chance to play for leg- endary Irish head coach Jeff Jackson all predi- cated Bavaro's move from the East Coast to the Midwest, a reloca- tion that has worked out fabulously for both player and program. "When Notre Dame called, I just wanted to play for Coach Jackson, and it's been unbeliev- able" Bavaro said of his short stay in the transfer portal. "The ex p e r i e n ce , t h e e n - vironment, the pride the school has, it was everything I was looking for. And on top of that, you get a great education." The appreciation is mutual. After suffering some growing pains as a first-year Irish player in 2022-23, Bavaro has settled in nicely during his second year here. Through 12 games this season, Bavaro ranked second on the Irish with 4 goals and was tied for sec- ond with 9 points. Bavaro said his improvement switch flipped at about the halfway point of last season when he became better adapted to the competition jump that moving from Bentley in the Atlantic Hockey Association to Notre Dame in the Big Ten provided. "I wanted to come in and make an immediate impact, and help as much as I could, but it was a tough adjustment," Bavaro admitted. "The beginning of last year wasn't my best hockey. But I think when the calendar year changed, I started finding who I was again and playing more of my game." Growing up in Bra- denton, Fla., made pur- suing a hockey career more complicated than it would be for players from northern states. But a commitment from his parents to travel the country for better com- petition, a willingness to leave home and spend his high school years at the Lawrence Academy boarding school near Boston, and a genuine love of the game all kept Bavaro on task and on pace to someday play professionally. "It's been an inter- esting and sometimes d i f f i c u l t j o u r n e y," B ava ro sa i d . " B u t I wouldn't change any of it for anything." ✦ Bavaro, who came to Notre Dame from Bentley University in the Boston area, ranked second on the Irish with 4 goals through 12 games this season. PHOTO COURTESY NOTRE DAME ATHLETICS Hockey's Drew Bavaro Made An Unlikely Journey To Notre Dame Irish Roundup CROSS COUNTRY The women notched a fourth-place finish and the men took 14th place at the NCAA Champi- onships Nov. 18 in Charlottesville, Va. … Olivia Markezich finished third overall for the women. FENCING (MEN 11-1 OVERALL, WOMEN 12-1 OVERALL) Both squads posted excellent results at the Elite Invitational Nov. 19 at Columbus, Ohio, with the No. 1-ranked men going 4-1 and the No. 2 women going 5-1 … The men beat No. 3 Princeton (16-11), No. 4 Ohio State (16-11), No. 9 Duke (18-9) and Air Force (21-6), while losing only to No. 7 Penn (15-12) … The women defeated No. 1 Princeton (18-9), No. 5 Ohio State (17-10), No. 7 Penn (22-5), Air Force (17-10) and Denison (18-9), but fell to No. 9 Duke (17-10). HOCKEY (7-4-2 OVERALL, 3-1-2 BIG TEN) Split a pair of games at Minnesota Nov. 17-18, topping the Gophers 4-2 in the opener before losing 4-1 … Up next are home contests against Boston College Nov. 24 and Michigan Dec. 1-2. MEN'S SOCCER (12-2-4 OVERALL, 6-0-2 ACC) Defeated Kentucky 2-0 round in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in South Bend Nov. 19 … Slated to face Western Michigan in the round of 16 in South Bend Nov. 26. WOMEN'S SOCCER (12-4-4 OVERALL, 7-1-2 ACC) Eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the second round Nov. 17, a 3-2 loss to Memphis. MEN'S SWIMMING & DIVING (5-0 OVERALL, 1-0 ACC) The swimmers placed fourth in the Ohio State Invitational at Columbus, Ohio, while the divers finished first at the IUPUI House of Champions Invitational in Indianapolis Nov. 16-18. WOMEN'S SWIMMING & DIVING (2-3 OVERALL, 0-1 ACC) The swimmers finished fourth in the Ohio State Invitational at Columbus, Ohio, while the divers came in third at the IUPUI House of Champions Invitational in Indianapolis Nov. 16-18. VOLLEYBALL (11-14 OVERALL, 5-12 ACC) Snapped a nine-match losing streak with a 3-2 win over Wake Forest in South Bend Nov. 17 .… Closed the season at Florida State Nov. 25.

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