Irish lacrosse celebrates seniors in private graduation ceremony

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This weekend, the Notre Dame men's lacrosse team will play in the NCAA quarterfinals, hoping to advance to the Final Four for the first time in five years.

This weekend though, is also graduation at Notre Dame, meaning the 12 Irish seniors will have to miss their own ceremony.

The team took care of that issue Friday evening, holding a private ceremony of their own.

The intimate gathering took place at Hofstra University on Long Island, where the Irish will take on Duke on Saturday. The ceremony was attended by the team and their families.

They even had a celebrity commencement speaker, bringing in Notre Dame alum and ESPN personality Mike Golic to do the honors.

It naturally is a bittersweet feeling to have to miss your own graduation, but for this senior class, it's worth it knowing they're chasing their dream of winning a national championship.

"One would think it's a weird feeling, but when we started as freshman, we had the same experience," Irish senior defenseman Hugh Crance said. "The seniors, they were away for their graduation, and so we all kind of came together as a class and said when we graduate we want to be away, because that means we're still fighting for what we want, fighting for a national championship. It is weird not graduating with the rest of the student body, but I'd rather graduate with 12 of my best friends in a private little ceremony then be here and really fight for a national championship, which I've wanted for my whole life."

A win Saturday would be extra special for this senior class, as that would mean they would advance to the Final Four for the first time.

Notre Dame has made it to the quarterfinals nine out of the last ten years, but haven't gotten to championship weekend since 2015.

"For my four years here, we haven't been to the Final Four, so it feels somewhat disappointing," Crance said. "Yea, it's great to the quarterfinals, but we'd like to achieve something greater this year."

These seniors hope to end that drought with a win over Duke.

"It's been a dream of mine since I was a little kid, and I think all the seniors can say the same thing," Crance said. "We've been playing lacrosse starting in third grade, some guys started younger, some guys started later, but ever since then that's all we've wanted to do is play for a championship, play in Final Four weekend, so we're going to give it all we got this weekend."

Notre Dame will take on the Blue Devils in the NCAA quarterfinals Saturday at 2:30pm from Hofstra University on Long Island. The game will air on ESPNU.