NOTRE DAME, Ind. – University of Notre Dame men’s lacrosse assistant coach Gerry Byrne recently was named the 2011 Intercollegiate Men’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IMLCA) National Assistant Coach of the Year for NCAA Division I. The award was presented during IMLCA Convention in Baltimore, Md.
Byrne instructed a Fighting Irish defense that finished the 2011 season ranked second nationally by allowing just 6.57 goals per game. The Irish held their opponents to seven goals or fewer 10 times during the 2011 campaign.
Notre Dame posted an 11-3 record in 2011 and finished second in the BIG EAST with a 5-1 league mark. Notre Dame topped Penn, 13-6, in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Championship before falling to Duke, 7-5, in the quarterfinals. The Fighting Irish were ranked No. 1 in the nation for the first time in program history during a stretch of last season.
While accepting the award, Byrne pointed to the camaraderie among the coaches at Notre Dame and the guidance of head coach Kevin Corrigan as the keys to his success.
“I can’t say enough about Coach Corrigan,” Byrne said. “He’s a great leader, but it’s also a great friendship.”
Over the last five seasons under Byrne’s direction, the Notre Dame defense has been one of the best in the nation. The Irish are the only team in NCAA Division I to finish in the top five nationally in scoring defense in each of those five campaigns. Notre Dame produced the nation’s top defense in 2009 by allowing a program-record 6.19 goals per game. The Irish were second in 2010 (7.53), fourth in 2007 (6.66) and fifth in 2008 (7.04).
Notre Dame has qualified for the NCAA Championship all five of those seasons and the Irish made the program’s first trip to the national title game in 2010. The Fighting Irish allowed just 23 goals (5.75 per game) during the four games of the 2010 tournament.
Since the beginning of the 2007 season (a span of 79 games), the Irish have limited opponents to seven goals or fewer 54 times. Notre Dame has limited foes to four goals or fewer 13 times during that stretch.
Notre Dame will open its 2012 campaign Feb. 18 with a home showdown against No. 2 Duke. The ninth-ranked Fighting Irish also will face the U.S. National Team for the second straight season as part of the Champion Challenge on Jan. 28 in Orlando, Fla.