Thursday, December 07, 2006

They're the best.....around. | by Pat

Stepping away from football for a second to write about fĂștbol.

Notre Dame accomplished an extremely rare feat recently when Joseph Lapira from the Men's soccer team and Kerry Hanks from the women's soccer team both won the Missouri Athletic Club (M.A.C) Hermann Trophy, college soccer's version of the Heisman Trophy. It is the first time in history that the men's and women's trophy were won by the same school in the same season.

Lapira won the Men's Hermann Trophy after finishing a junior year that saw him lead the nation in goals (22) and points (50) as well as sport a bitchin' moustache. Lapira is the first ND player to win the Player of the Year award for men's soccer. Also named the Big East Offensive Player of the Year and ND's 3rd ever 1st team All-American -- along with current teammate Greg Dalby -- Lapira helped lead the Irish to the quarterfinals of this year's NCAA tournament. It was the first time in program history that ND made the quarterfinals and a large reason why was Lapira's golden goal in double overtime the game before against Maryland, last year's national champs.

Over on the women's side of things, Kerri Hanks accomplishments might be even more impressive. The sophomore won the Women's Hermann Trophy after leading the nation in goals (22), points (66), and assists (22). A key member of a club that was ranked #1 for most of the season, Hanks and her fellow Fighting Irish got all the way to the championship game before falling 2-1 to North Carolina. Hanks became the 3rd Irish player to win the Hermann Trophy following Cindy Daws (1996) and Anne Makinen (2000).

What makes Hanks accomplishments so impressive are the fact that she's the first sophomore to ever win the Hermann Trophy. Not only that, she's only the 2nd player in history to lead the nation in both goals and assists, with the other player being Mia Hamm. With two years of eligibility left, Hanks already owns 43 different Irish scoring records and should continue to be dangerous when paired with freshman Michele Weissenhofer, who finished 2nd in the nation in assists and points and 6th in goals this year.

As a final aside, Notre Dame has had 47 athletes either win an individual national championship or be named Player of the Year. The entire list can be found at the bottom of the post here with the breakdown being 42 NCAA individual champions (18 men's track, 12 men's fencing, 10 women's fencing, two men's cross country), and 12 national player-of-the-year winners (seven football, three women's soccer, one men's basketball, one men's soccer)

Congrats to both Lapira and Hanks for an unprecedented and amazing accomplishment.