Feb. 25, 1997
Women's Lacrosse Preps for Inaugural Season
By Bernadette Cafarelli
Women's lacrosse, the newest varsity sport at Notre Dame, plays its
first game on March 12 against Fairfield in Williamsburgh, Va. Its
been nine years since women's soccer and softball were added to the
list of Irish varsity sports. Both have been highly successful and
are now perennial participants in NCAA post season competition.
While the tradition has yet to be established, first-year head coach
Tracy Coyne, is excited about the prospects for she and the 24-members
of Notre Dame's 25th sport to gain varsity status at Notre Dame.
"It's exciting to be part of a new program, to represent Notre Dame
and to have the opportunity to go out and establish a winning
tradition, says Coyne. "I'm anxious to get started. I value the
opportunity to start the program on my own. I want to create
something special, which resembles everything this University is
about. People don't always understand what Notre Dame has to offer,
with its combination of academics and athletics which is
unparallelled. The success of the other athletic teams here inspires
me to want to match it."
And perhaps there is no greater model to emulate than women's soccer,
which won the school's first-ever national championship in that sport
less than 10 years after beginning varsity competition.
Coyne arrived at Notre Dame this past August after spending seven
years as the women's lacrosse and field hockey coach at Roanoke.
While at Roanoke, she was the 1990 Division III coach of the year, led
the school to its first-ever national ranking and five NCAA Division
III tournament appearances.
Widely respected throughout the lacrosse community, Coyne has
assembled an excellent staff consisting of former University of
Maryland All-American Liz Downing, who was recently selected to the
World Cup team, and Kirsten Wagner, a four-year standout at Roanoke.
This season's first-year squad is comprised mainly of players who were
members of Notre Dame's women's club lacrosse team. Coyne has
assembled a competitive 10-game schedule for this group that includes
the likes of Vanderbilt, Ohio State, Davidson and Stanford.
"We have a schedule that includes all Division I teams," says Coyne
'It's a very competitive schedule that gives us the opportunity to
play some tough games against established programs as well as play
teams who are in a similar position as we are and just starting up.
Our schedule this year will give us an indication of where we are and
what we need to work on to get better."
Since the fall, Coyne and her coaching staff have been developing the
fundamentals - stickwork, passing and catching - and have emphasized
basics to their team.
"We've worked hard on the fundamentals," says Coyne. "I want this
team to go out and compete each and every time we take the field. We
won't be able to judge the progress we've made at the end of the
season by looking at our record. Our goal is to go out and do the
best we can and strive to get better. I want each and every player to
feel satisfied with her performance when she gets off the field."
What has impressed Coyne most about her team is the willingness each
player has to learn and each individual's work ethic. It's an
extremely coachable and competitive group.
It is Coyne's hope to have the Irish ranked nationally and in the NCAA
tournament within the next five seasons. While those goals may seem
somewhat far off now, success for this program may be just around the
corner. With Coyne's competitiveness and enthusiasm for the program,
there is no doubt that soon women's lacrosse at Notre Dame will
establish a winning tradition of its own.