A lot of sports fans in Butte already cheer for Notre Dame.
This weekend, there’s reason for everybody in and from the Mining City to root for the Fighting Irish — at least when it comes to the lacrosse team.
The Fighting Irish will play Maryland in the NCAA semifinals Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore. That game, which will be at 1:30 p. .m(Mountain Time), will be televised on ESPN2.
The winner will play Denver or Duke in Monday’s championship game. Denver meets Duke at 11 a.m. The championship game will be at 11 a.m. Monday, also in Baltimore and also on ESPN2.
The televised action will also give fans a chance to watch Notre Dame junior midfielder Nick Ossello in play for the Irish. Ossello is the son of Butte native Steve Ossello, a 1982 Butte Central graduate.
Actually, SportsCenter viewers around the world already had the chance to see what Ossello can do on the lacrosse field. He scored two goals in Notre Dame’s 14-13 quarterfinal win over Albany Saturday in Hempstead, N.Y.
One of those goals was ranked No. 9 on Saturday’s top 10 plays of the day on SportsCenter. On the play, Ossello went to the ground, recovered and put in a “sick” backhanded goal.
“I gave him (crap) because he was only No. 9,” Steve Ossello said with a laugh. “I told him to toughen up.”
Ossello is a junior from Wheat Ridge, Colorado, a suburb of Denver. In 16 games this season, he has tallied 11 goals and three assists.
At Wheat Ridge High School, Ossello was a three-time all-conference selection in lacrosse. He received All-State recognition as a junior and senior.
Ossello was also a football player in high school, starring at quarterback and safety. As a sophomore Ossello’s team won the state title and received a national ranking. The team won the championship game at Invesco Field at Mile High.
Ossello came upon the game of lacrosse about the time he started finding baseball to be a little boring.
“He said, ‘My buddy told me about a game where you can hit guys with sticks,'” Steve Ossello said. “He said, ‘I want to try that.'”
The sport apparently stuck. When he was a senior in high school, Nick Ossello had the choice of Maryland, Notre Dame and the Air Force Academy, which also wanted him to play football.
“Once he took the visit to Notre Dame he said, ‘How can I pass that up?” Steve Ossello said.
Nick Ossello is one of a handful of grandchildren of Butte’s Guy and Madeline Ossello who is making a name for himself in athletics.
Ryan Burke, the son of Steve’s sister Stella, plays football at the University of Montana after a stellar multi-sport career at Billings Central.
Mick Delaney, Steve’s sister Angie’s son, is a safety for the Grizzlies, who are coached by his grandfather with the same name.
Maddi Ossello is a sophomore on the lacrosse team at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri. The Lions made the final four of the NCAA Division II this season. There, they fell 10-9 in overtime to Lock Haven in the semifinals.
Also, Annie and Kate Ossello are the daughters of Steve’s brother Guy. Annie, who graduated from Butte Central last year, helped lead the Maroons to state in volleyball and basketball. Kate, a sophomore, starts at catcher for the BC softball team.
Steve Ossello works as an investment banker in Denver. He’s lived there since graduating from Gonzaga University in 1986.
Ossello and his wife Lynnea have three children — Elle graduated from Gonzaga last year, while Gianna will graduate from Wheat Ridge High School this Friday.
Since he was introduced to his sport by his son, Steve has become quite the fan of lacrosse.
“I love the game,” he said. “It’s really fun to watch.”
Saturday’s game will be so fun to watch that Steve will take a redeye flight late Friday night from Denver to Baltimore for Notre Dame’s game against Maryland. He’s doing that because the family is hosting a graduation party for Gianna.
Steve Ossello only missed a couple of games the entire season, missing games only when he couldn’t get a reasonable flight.
“They’ve had a great year,” he said of the Irish.
Nick Ossello, a marketing major, has one more year of eligibility left playing at Notre Dame. Steve Ossello’s days of traveling around the country to watch college lacrosse, however, are far from over.
Gianna Ossello has signed to play for lacrosse at Duke.
That means Butte folks will have a good reason to cheer for the Blue Devils — at least when it comes to the lacrosse team.
“It’s been quite a ride,” Steve Ossello said. “Now I get four more years of it.”