HAMDEN, Conn. -- The stars have aligned in a peculiar way this week for St. Francis women's basketball coach Joe Haigh.
The day his team won in the Northeast Conference semifinals, a new pope was elected -- who happened to take the name Francis I.
Today, the Red Flash are playing for their 12th league title -- on his 41st birthday.
Perhaps a little luck of the Irish will go a long way on this St. Patrick's Day.
"I've always loved having my birthday on St. Patrick's Day. I've always acted Irish," Haigh said. "It's a cool day. It'll be cool playing the game [today]. Of course I'll for a little birthday luck, St. Patrick's Day luck or whatever.
"On Wednesday, when Pope Francis was announced, I did think that was kind of crazy -- just coincidence. That was pretty neat."
The Red Flash beat Sacred Heart on its home floor for the first time in eight years on Wednesday.
Maybe it was coincidence. Maybe it was fate.
Whatever the subtext, St. Francis just flat-out dominated a team that had its number this year -- Sacred Heart won both regular season meetings by an average of 23 points.
Heading into Sunday's championship, not only do the stakes get higher, the task gets taller.
Quinnipiac is the regular season champion, is 29-2 overall, went undefeated in the NEC, and is one win away from its first trip to the Big Dance.
With that said, here are a few extra interesting tidbits that may have Haigh destined to lead his team to victory.
-- Haigh's given first name is actually Patrick. Not uncommonly, he goes by his middle name. St. Joseph's Day is Tuesday.
-- He has a little Irish descent if he stretches it. His mother is German, and his father is English, Irish and Belgian.
-- Ironicly, both Haigh and his wife, Sherri, are graduates of Notre Dame -- the home of the Fighting Irish.
Pretty cool, huh?
But while he does believe in luck and coincidence, the first-year coach doesn't have any superstitions.
"I'm not superstitious at all," Haigh said. "I don't have any basketball superstitions at all because you work too hard to be superstitious about stuff.
"I always felt as a player, I don't want feel that anything was going to impact my game. Whether I eat a chicken wing that day or not, that's not going to determine how I shoot."
He may not need superstition with luck on his side, though.
In fact, no future birthday present will likely live up to the one he could receive today.
"It would be the best kind of birthday present I could get," Haigh said. "Now that I'm getting older, I'm not going to get that video game I always wanted or something like that.
"I'm just trying to get a win for the team and the school, but there would be nothing better than a championship win for my birthday, that's for sure."