February 2, 2010

Byers’ 11-Point Weekend Helps USA to Two Wins at Champion Challenge

Bulldog Assistant Coach Scores Four Goals, Adds Seven Assists

ORLANDO, Fla. - Yale assistant women's lacrosse coach Jillian Byers had four goals and seven assists in two games this past weekend, helping the U.S. Elite Team to a pair of wins in the fifth annual Champion Challenge at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Florida. She had three goals and four assists in the 23-7 win over her alma mater, Notre Dame, on Saturday, then added one goal and three assists Sunday in a 17-8 win over Duke. The game vs. Duke will air on ESPNU on Feb. 2 at 2 p.m.

Byers was selected for the U.S. Lacrosse Developmental Team, which is designed as a feeder program for the U.S. National Team, last summer. It was her second straight selection. She has been participating in various events, including games and clinics, ever since. This past weekend, National Team coach Ricky Fried mixed and matched players from both the Developmental Team and the Elite Team rosters for the Champion Challenge. Byers wound up playing for the Elite Team twice.

The next big event is the first round of U.S. National Team tryouts May 29-31 in Bel Air, Md., in conjunction with the US Lacrosse Women's Division National Tournament. The second round of tryouts, which will help determine the 2010-11 U.S. roster, are July 29-Aug. 1 at UMBC in Baltimore, Md.

Byers was a finalist for the Honda Sports Award and the Tewaaraton Trophy as the top college women's lacrosse player in 2009. A four-time All-American, she graduated from Notre Dame last May as the Fighting Irish's all-time leading scorer. An attacker, her 262 career goals place her fourth in NCAA history.

Byers scored a school-record 83 goals in 2009, finishing second in the country in goals and third in points (111). She also set the Notre Dame single-season draw control record with 55. In addition to being the school's all-time leading scorer she also leads in points (336, 10th in NCAA history), draw controls (154) and games played (76).

Byers was Notre Dame's captain and MVP in 2009, leading the Fighting Irish to a 16-5 record, a Big East Tournament Championship and an NCAA Tournament appearance, the third NCAA appearance in Byers' four years. The team advanced to the Final Four in 2006, the first round in 2008 and the second round in 2009. Overall Notre Dame was 54-22 during her tenure. 

Byers, who earned three second-team All-America honors and one first-team honor in her career, was a unanimous first-team All-Big East selection four times. She was named Big East co-attack player of the year her senior year, when she led the conference in goals (a record 31 in conference play) and was second in points (42). She is the Big East's all-time leading scorer with 78 career goals. Her 12 points in an Apr. 18 win over UConn this past year (seven goals, five assists) are a Big East single-game record.

A native of Northport, N.Y., Byers attended Northport High, where she played basketball, lacrosse and soccer. She led all three teams to Suffolk County League titles all four years, captaining the lacrosse and soccer teams. She also played club lacrosse for the Long Island Elite Club Program the Yellow Jackets. She was recently named one of the top 10 Long Island high school athletes of the decade by Newsday.

Byers was a film, television and theatre major at Notre Dame, minoring in theology. She was a three-time Academic All-Star Team selection and was a Rosenthal Leadership Academy Leader of Distinction Award winner in her senior year. She also took part in the Read to a Child program as a mentor.

All three of Yale's coaches have national team connections. Anne Phillips, Yale's Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women's Lacrosse, is the chair of the U.S. Lacrosse National Team selection committee. Among other accomplishments, she helped determine the players for the U.S. team that won the World Cup last summer. Assistant coach Brigid Strain has also been selected for multiple U.S. National Team trials.

Report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity

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