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Sexton, Irish Focused On Syracuse

March 31, 2017

Consistently speaking, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish have had one of the most incredible runs of success in the world of Division-I college lacrosse in recent memory. The Irish are one of two programs along with the University of Maryland that has appeared in the NCAA tournament in each of the last 11 seasons. The Irish lost to the North Carolina Tar Heels in the tournament quarterfinals last year 13-9, ending a promising season early.

Despite the early end to the season, John Sexton had come into his own for the Irish. The now-junior long-stick midfielder/defenseman finished second on the team in ground balls and forced turnovers and even added three goals, building on a solid career that has resulted in him appearing in every single game since his arrival in South Bend in 2014.

This season, he has been his usual solid self as the Irish head into the meat of their ACC schedule, starting with a home game against Syracuse on Saturday.

"It's always a very good game," he remarked, "We're excited for it, but at the same time we definitely have a lot of preparation to do." 

The Irish have beaten the Orange each of the last two seasons, including a double-overtime victory in 2014 in South Bend. It might be easy for the Irish to look ahead to the regular-season finale against the Tar Heels, but Sexton suggests the team is focused on the Orange and nothing else.

"I don't think guys look much further than that right now because they're a very good team," he said.

I get to go to a top-tier academic school and at the same time I'm playing at the highest level in college lacrosse. - John Sexton

He says the team has put a big focus on itself as a unit this season and trying to get better at what they do and not focusing on other teams.

"We want to make sure to have teams tailor themselves to our game versus us having to adjust to what we do for them," he continued.

This focus on themselves has led to the Irish being very close-knit and wanting to help each other get better.

As a junior, Sexton has taken on a bit of a leadership role helping out some of the younger defensemen. This helps keep team morale high and he's happy they are such a close group and don't have any cliques or anything like that. 

Lacrosse however isn't the only thing that he is focused on.

Sexton puts a big emphasis on doing well academically as referenced by him being named to the ACC All-Academic team the past two seasons.

"I get to go to a top-tier academic school and at the same time I'm playing at the highest level in college lacrosse," he said.

The emphasis he has put on his academics helped him when looking at schools to attend during the recruiting process while at Lincoln-Sudbury High School in Sudbury, Mass.

"I went through every decision with the mindset of wanting to be happy at a school playing lacrosse but also being happy as a student," he explained. 

The recruiting process was an interesting time for him because he didn't start playing lacrosse until his late youth as he also enjoyed playing baseball. But thanks to his enjoyment of playing lacrosse with friends, his commitment changed and he became more interested with the faster pace of the game.

The commitment got more serious as he went into high school and from there it took off. During high school, he was exposed to the high-pressure world of college recruiting.

"Being recruited was a difficult process in that it's hard to make such a big decision when you're so young," he said.

Sexton also went on to say that going through the process was intriguing because he hadn't previously been exposed to it. 

When asked to reflect on his time at Notre Dame, Sexton said he couldn't have asked for a better experience and that it's been very special to go a school with tremendous resources through the athletic program, including the coaching staff.

"Our coaches are always very supportive in everything that we do, whether that be academics, or searching for a career on or off the lacrosse field," he said. 

He has clearly enjoyed his time in South Bend and looks to be in the middle of another strong Irish squad that hopes to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament. When watching the Irish take on the Orange on Saturday, keep an eye out for number 46 in white who surely will be all over the field. 

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