A pair of Fighting Irish teams fell behind early, but both mounted comebacks and picked up BIG EAST conference victories to stay undefeated at home this season. The women's lacrosse team struggled early in its matchup with Louisville, falling behind 5-1, before rattling off nine straight goals on its way to a 13-11 victory in the BIG EAST debut for first-year head coach Christine Halfpenny. The Fighting Irish improved to 7-0 in their return to Arlotta Stadium, after nearly a month away from home. Lindsay Powell led the offensive attack with four goals, while Maggie Tamasitis added a hat trick. Next door, the Notre Dame baseball team also fell into an early 2-0 hole, but plated three runs in the home half of the first inning. Joe Hudson knocked a two-run single, before Tommy Chase executed a squeeze play to provide what turned out to be the winning run in a Saturday afternoon pitchers' duel. Adam Norton pitched 8.1 strong innings, allowing just five hits and two runs, while striking out four. Dan Slania came on for the final two outs and after yielding back-to-back singles, centerfielder Charlie Markson made a leaping catch for the final out. Slania picked up his fifth save of the season, and the Irish improved to 14-7 with the win. Meanwhile, it was a big day for Notre Dame football too, as the team suited up in full pads for the first time this spring. The media got a chance to watch the last few minutes of practice, paying special attention to the four Irish quarterbacks battling for the starting job - Tommy Rees, Everett Golson, Andrew Hendrix, and Gunner Kiel. Check back later for UND.com video coverage from today's action at the LaBar Practice Fields. It's another busy afternoon tomorrow, when the men's lacrosse team takes on Rutgers and baseball goes for the sweep against Pittsburgh. Catch both games live at 1:00 pm ET, right here on UND.com. And don't forget, the Notre Dame women's hoops team plays St. Bonaventure for a spot in the Elite Eight at 2:30 pm ET on ESPN2. - Josh Flynt ('11)
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Seventh-ranked Notre Dame returns to the field today at 1:00 pm ET when it takes on Louisville in the first BIG EAST conference game of the year at Arlotta Stadium. The game will be broadcast on UND.com, but Irish UNDerground will also have all the angles in and around the action covered throughout today's game too. Be sure to share your questions, comments and complaints and let your voice be heard throughout the Notre Dame nation, as the Fighting Irish look to improve to 7-0 in the young season. Want to track all the action from your mobile device? No problem. Simply click (or to be phone friendly, "touch") HERE.
With the winter sports wrapping up and the spring seasons getting underway, it was a good weekend for the Notre Dame athletic department, as several programs picked up big wins and two captured BIG EAST championships. Here's a quick look at some of this weekend's top performances: Baseball opened the season in Florida, winning its first two games in the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge. On Friday, the Irish won a 13-12 slugfest against Illinois, led by junior catcher Joe Hudson's 3-for-4, two home run, four RBI afternoon. Saturday was a different story, as junior Adam Norton went the distance on the mound. The righty held Iowa to just two runs over nine innings to register his first complete game victory. The ninth-ranked men's lacrosse team kicked off Saturday afternoon with a 7-3 upset of #2 Duke. After falling behind 2-0, head coach Kevin Corrigan's squad scored seven straight goals to win its tenth straight season-opener. Senior midfielder Max Pfeifer and sophomore midfielder Jim Marlatt led the Fighting Irish with two goals apiece. In the pool, the men's swimming & diving team earned its fifth BIG EAST title. The Irish totaled 887 points, topping two-time defending champion Louisville (859.5) and host school Pittsburgh (520). Junior Bill Bass was named the meet's Most Outstanding Swimmer, and head coach Tim Welsh was named Swimming Coach of the Year. Last week, freshman Nick Nemetz was named Diver of the Year and Caiming Xie was selected as Diving Coach of the Year, so Saturday's awards gave Notre Dame a sweep of the conference postseason trophies. At about 10 pm ET on Saturday, it looked like the men's basketball team's seven-game winning streak was destined to end in Philadelphia. Head coach Mike Brey's Fighting Irish trailed Villanova by 16 points at halftime, but the Irish rallied, thanks in part to Pat Connaughton's big night behind the arc. The freshman knocked down seven three-pointers, leading the improbable comeback and 74-70 overtime win to keep the winning streak alive. The women's lacrosse team kicked off a new era on Sunday afternoon with a 17-14 victory over Stanford. Sophomore Lindsay Powell netted five goals, while junior Jaimie Morrison chipped in four and senior tri-captain Maggie Tamasitis tallied six assists, to lift new head coach Christine Halfpenny to a win in her first game with the Irish. In the Big Apple, the men's track & field team hoisted its fifth BIG EAST Championship trophy, totaling 131 points at New Balance Track & Field Center at The Armory, to hold off second-place Connecticut (103 points). The Irish were led by Kevin Schipper's third consecutive BIG EAST Indoor pole vault title, and Patrick Feeney (400m) and Jeremy Rae's (Mile) victories on the track. The fourth-ranked women's basketball team will look to finish off a strong weekend for the Notre Dame athletic program at 2 pm ET this afternoon on ESPN against #16 Louisville. - Josh Flynt ('11)
After the Notre Dame men's lacrosse team knocked off #2 Duke, 7-3 on Saturday, the 20th-ranked women's team closed out the great weekend at Arlotta Stadium - opening its season with a 17-14 victory over preseason #6 Stanford. Sophomore Lindsay Powell led the Fighting Irish with five scores, including two in the second half. Junior Jaimie Morrison added four goals, while senior tri-captain Megan Sullivan netted three scores. Fellow senior tri-captain Maggie Tamasitis contributed six assists in the victory. It's a great start to a new era for the Fighting Irish, as head coach Christine Halfpenny wins the first game of her tenure in South Bend. Halfpenny was hired this past July after spending the past five seasons as head coach at the College of William & Mary. Meanwhile, Stanford, which lost previously to Northwestern and Ohio State, drops to a disappointing 0-3 to start the season. After a 12-7 halftime deficit, the Cardinal fought back and came within two goals of tying the score. Amy Bokker's team actually outscored the Fighting Irish, 7-5 in the second half, but it was not enough to overcome Notre Dame's scoring assault. Notre Dame will be back in action on Saturday at noon ET against Duquesne. Hopefully that game will also be played at Arlotta Stadium, but we'll have to wait and see what happens with the February weather in South Bend. Stay tuned to UND.com for a complete story and highlights of the great season-opening victory for new head coach Christine Halfpenny's Fighting Irish squad. - Josh Flynt ('11)
2:05 pm: Notre Dame scores with just 1.6 seconds to play and it's going to be a 17-14 victory for Coach Halfpenny in her first game. Jaimie Morrison scores her fourth of the afternoon and it's assist #6 for Maggie Tamasitis. 2:03 pm: Under a minute to play, Stanford cuts the lead to just two goals. Rachel Ozer scores to make it 16-14. 2:01 pm: Maybe I spoke too soon. Anna Boeri scores again for Stanford, assisted by Emily Newstrom. There's 2:10 remaining in this one, and it's 16-13 in favor of Notre Dame. 1:59 pm: Under three minutes to play and it's looking good for Coach Halfpenny's team. Lindsay Powell nets her fifth score of the game to give Notre Dame a 16-12 lead. That one might be the insurance goal the Irish needed to close this one out. 1:53 pm: A free position shot for Stanford, and Anna Kim scores another goal for the Cardinal. It cuts the Notre Dame lead to three goals, with 5:45 remaining at Arlotta Stadium. 1:46 pm: Lindsay Powell puts it in the back of the net for her fourth goal of the game. Huge score for Notre Dame, pushing the lead back to four goals with 8:36 left. 1:45 pm: Now it's a two-minute power play for the Fighting Irish after a Cardinal yellow card. Stanford returns to full-strength, but Notre Dame gets a free position opportunity - but it's a nice save by Munoz. Under 10 minutes to play in the game and it's a 14-11 lead for Notre Dame. 1:40 pm: Rachel Hinds scores her first of the game - a very important goal for Stanford, as it cuts the deficit to just three goals. Should be an eventful rest of the game. 1:39 pm: Notre Dame gets called for a yellow card, but kills the two-minute penalty, despite a couple of close opportunities for Stanford. Great sequence for the Irish defense. We're past the midway point in the second half, and it's a 14-10 game in favor of the home squad. 1:30 pm: After a great save for Notre Dame goalie Ellie Hilling on a free position shot, the Irish take it on the attack, but are unable to score. Stanford comes back on the offensive end and gets another free position opportunity after a foul. This time, it's Kyle Fraser, who cuts the deficit to four. Notre Dame leading, 14-10 with 17:24 remaining. 1:26 pm: The Boeri sisters strike again for Stanford. Anna Boeri scores on an assist from her sister, Emilie. Teams trading goals here in the second half and Notre Dame still holds a five-goal lead. 1:22 pm: Megan Sullivan with another great shot for Notre Dame. It's the senior tri-captain's third score of the game, and she extends the lead to 14-8 with 22:12 to play. 1:16 pm: Stanford responds quickly with a free position shot goal of its own. This time, it's Hannah Farr for the Cardinal. 13-8 advantage for Notre Dame. 1:14 pm: The Irish strike to extend their lead to 13-7. Jaimie Morrison scores her third goal of the game on the free position shot. Exactly the start Notre Dame was looking for here in the second half. 12:59 pm: Notre Dame slows things down in the closing minutes of the half, but Lyndsey Munoz steps up with a few nice saves, and we go to halftime with a 12-7 score. Lindsay Powell leads the Irish with three goals, while Jaimie Morrison, Megan Sullivan, McKenzie Brown and Jenny Granger have two apiece. Maggie Tamasitis has five assists, to go along with one score for Coach Halfpenny's team. 12:54 pm: Stanford's Emilie Boeri scores her second of the game with 3:40 to play in the half. It's a 12-7 lead for Notre Dame. 12:51 pm: Yet again, Notre Dame responds after a Stanford score. Jenny Granger scores her second of the game, and it's Maggie Tamasitis with her fifth assist of the afternoon. 12:50 pm: Another two-minute penalty for Stanford, but it's the Cardinal who score - Emilie Boeri with the goal on an assist from her sister, Anna, cutting the deficit to five. 12:44 pm: Stanford strikes back quickly on a free position shot. It's Catherine Swanson for the Cardinal. Notre Dame still leads it, 11-5. 12:42 pm: Great find from Maggie Tamasitis...she passes it to Jaimie Morrison who nets it for the 11th Notre Dame goal of the game. 12:38 pm: Another Notre Dame goal...McKenzie Brown scores again - assisted by tri-captain Maggie Tamasitis. 10-4 Irish. 12:36 pm: Anna Kim strikes back for the Cardinal. An unassisted score, her second goal of the game. Still, the Fighting Irish have a 9-4 lead. 12:34 pm: With just 11 seconds left on the power play, Notre Dame strikes for its eighth goal of the game - Lindsay Powell assisted by Jenny Granger. That's the third goal of the day for the sophomore from Honeoye Falls, N.Y. Just seconds later - McKenzie Brown scores her first of the season. This time, it's Jaimie Morrison with the assist. It's 9-3 Notre Dame with 12:43 left in the first half. 12:31 pm: Two-minute penalty for Stanford. We'll see if Notre Dame can capitalize on it. 12:24 pm: Stanford gets a free position shot, but the Irish get a save...The Cardinal retain possession however, and Emily Newstrom scores on an assist from Hannah Farr. 7-3 Irish. 12:19 pm: Lindsay Powell strikes on her second goal of the game. It's 6-2 Notre Dame, but not for long...Maggie Tamasitis finds Megan Sullivan for another goal. It's a 7-2 lead for Coach Halfpenny's squad and Stanford calls a timeout with 20:01 left in the first half. 12:16 pm: Lot of scoring early on here at Arlotta Stadium. The Irish have been responding to each Stanford goal. After a Cardinal turnover just after the draw, Megan Sullivan takes it down on the offensive end and passes to Lindsay Powell who finds the back of the net. On the very next play, Jaimie Morrison strikes for Notre Dame. Five shots and five goals so far for the Fighting Irish. 12:14 pm: Anna Kim scores on a free position shot for Stanford. Irish hold on to the early lead, 3-2. 12:11 pm: Maggie Tamasitis responds quickly for Notre Dame. 3-1 Irish. 12:10 pm: Anna Boeri scores and Stanford cuts the deficit to one. 12:08 pm: The Cardinal turn the ball over and Notre Dame comes down on the attack. After a Stanford foul, Megan Sullivan scores on a free position shot, and it's 2-0. Great start for the Irish. 12:03 pm: It's the first goal of the season for Notre Dame - Jenny Granger strikes first on an assist from Maggie Tamasitis. The Irish lead 1-0 with 26:44 left in the half. 11:54 am: The Fighting Irish starting lineups are introduced to the tune of "I'm Shipping Up to Boston," and we're just about ready to go. 11:30 am: We're about a half hour away from the start of the 2012 Notre Damen women's lacrosse season. It's a new era in South Bend, as Christine Halfpenny coaches her first game on the Fighting Irish sideline. Her 20th-ranked squad will take on the #6 Stanford Cardinal and like yesterday's men's game against Duke, the women will open the season at Arlotta Stadium. It's 30 degrees and sunny, and there's not a snowflake in sight. The game begins at noon ET, and you can catch the broadcast live on UND.com. Stay tuned right here to Irish UNDerground for more coverage from the season opener.
As the winter winds down (fingers crossed), the spring sports slate picks up this weekend. The baseball and softball teams hit the road, while the men's and women's lacrosse teams play home games at Arlotta Stadium. I recently spoke with new women's head coach Christine Halfpenny to talk about her experience at Notre Dame so far and the upcoming season for her Irish squad. This past summer, Christine Halfpenny was introduced as the second coach in the history of Notre Dame women's lacrosse. Since arriving in South Bend in August, she has been overwhelmed by the ease of the transition, despite having moved from Virginia with her husband and two young sons. Like so many others who arrive at this university, Coach Halfpenny has been struck by the outpouring of support from the Notre Dame family. "The first week out here one of my fellow coaches looked at me and said 'You know, I just did this move, and honest to God, people will tell you this, but take them up on it - Everything is just an ask away.' And it's been the truth. From fellow coaches to the administrators to people in the community, this is an incredible place that is unbelievably welcoming."