Notre Dame-Fairfield will play home soccer games at Sacred Heart Campus Field this season

After playing its home games on the grass field located on campus, Notre Dame-Fairfield is getting an upgrade this fall. The Lancers will be moving their home football games across the street and calling Sacred Heart University Campus Field home this season.

Notre Dame-Fairfield football coach and athletic director John Johnson facilitated the opportunity for his team to use the facility beginning this season. After experiencing a Friday night at Campus Field years ago, Johnson wanted it to be something more permanent.

“The plan after going into the COVID season was to have all of our home games there. Obviously, we didn’t have a season that year. Last year, Sacred Heart was still not allowing outside entities to use its facilities due to COVID protocols,” Johnson said. “When I took over as athletic director this summer, one of my first orders of business was to get it going.”

After his hire, Johnson contacted Charlie Dowd, assistant director of athletics along with outside operations for Sacred Heart, to put together the schedule.

Notre Dame’s first home game is scheduled for Sept. 23, when the team hosts Northwest Catholic.

Campus Field will mark the second shared facility between the two schools, following Park Avenue Field, which houses both schools’ soccer programs along with the Notre Dame boys’ and girls’ lacrosse and softball teams.

While this is the second field the two schools will share, there are no immediate plans for a future collaboration.

As for Notre Dame’s grass field on its campus, it will remain a practice field for the team.

Johnson has close ties to Sacred Heart and played football for the Pioneers from 1996 to 1999. During his college career, he remembers the program transitioning from a Division II program to Division I.

“I stay in close contact with Coach Nofri and have a great relationship with him,” Johnson said. “One of the focuses of mine when I was hired as athletic director was to continue to foster that relationship that we have with Sacred Heart where any facility that we don’t have access to or isn’t up to our standards, we would be able to use at Sacred Heart. .”

Johnson looks back on his recruitment process and remembers how the Sacred Heart was growing exponentially, even 25 years ago. As he oversees half of the relationship between the schools, he knows how a positive experience can impact a college student or, in his case, a prospective high school student.

“One thing that attracted me as a recruit on my visits to Sacred Heart was their plans when they first started, and they have continued to expand,” Johnson said. “I think having Friday nights there as big event games will only help bring more student athletes to our school.”

While Notre Dame has the opportunity to play on a varsity field for its student-athletes, the partnership allows Sacred Heart to sell itself to prospective students and continues the growing relationship between the two schools.

“Sacred Heart and Notre Dame Fairfield have been great neighbors and we are pleased to be able to continue the partnership,” said Sacred Heart Athletic Director Judy Ann Riccio. “There has been a lot of transformation on campus in recent years and this is a good opportunity to showcase our beautiful campus.”

After a 2021 season in which the Lancers finished 8-3 overall, adding a change of scenery will bring more excitement to this season, which kicks off Friday at Stonington.

“I think people who come or think about coming to Notre Dame to see us play on a Division I field on Friday nights and have that experience is something that is attractive to prospective students and will build more momentum within our program. to continue to get over the hump and win a state championship,” Johnson said.

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