March 24, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The No. 7 University of Notre Dame women's lacrosse team improved to 8-0 for the second consecutive year with a 14-2 win over BIG EAST foe Villanova Sunday afternoon at Arlotta Stadium.
The Irish defense smothered the Wildcat offense the entire day, allowing only two goals on 18 shots. The two goals allowed are tied for the fourth lowest total in school history.
Goalie Ellie Hilling continued her impressive showing between the pipes, stopping 12 of the 14 shots that were on goal. The 12 saves tied a season high for the Hilling.
"It was a special weekend for Ellie," said head coach Christine Halfpenny. "She was able to show up and execute after putting in a lot of work ahead of time in getting ready for our two BIG EAST openers. I think she showed a ton of leadership in that regard. She did extra scouting and was able to see the ball really well. We also have to give credit to the defense that is in front of Ellie. They were able to limit the looks that she had to see and to give her the looks that she likes. That aside, she was lights out all weekend."
Notre Dame jumped out to a 4-0 lead after the first 20 minutes as four different Irish players found the back of the net on Wildcat goalie Ama Hirschfeld. With the defense holding Villanova at bay, the Irish took a 4-1 lead into the break.
The Irish offense finally broke through a packed-in Wildcat defense to out-score the opposition 10-1 in the second half. Notre Dame improved its lead to 7-1 just seven minutes into the second half. A Wildcat goal cut the lead to 7-2 before the Irish ran off six goals in under seven minutes to put the game away. Included in the scoring spree were three goals in 54 seconds from 13:58 to 13:04, with the first two goals coming from sophomore Caitlin Gargan in just 18 seconds and the last coming from junior Lauren Sullivan 36 seconds later.
Gargan recorded a hat trick in the second frame to give her four for the day. She also added a pair of helpers to give herself five points in the second half and six for the game.
"Caitlin has been an incredible example of what happens when you stay focused on your process and development," said Halfpenny. "She is a player that has so much unique ability, talent and athleticism that we have told her to stick to the plan and that good things will happen when she stays focused on her basics and bringing to the table what she has the ability to bring to the table. Today she did a great job of being an on the field leader for us."
Eight different Notre Dame student-athletes found the back of the net on the day, including sophomore defender Barbara Sullivan, who recorded her first career goal after collecting a ground ball, sprinting several yards up the field and dishing to teammate Jenny Granger who passed to Kaitlyn Brosco who passed back to Sullivan for the easy fast-break goal. The Garden City, N.Y., native also added a team-high eight draw controls and two ground balls.
Granger ended the day with two goals and an assist, while Brosco finished with two goals and two assists.
Villanova's two goals came from Jackie Froccaro with 1:08 left in the first half and from Chelsey Henderson with 22:41 left in the second frame.
The Irish have now started the season at 8-0 for the second consecutive year under Halfpenny.
Notre Dame looks to continue its undefeated season after taking a break from games for the Easter holiday. The Irish hit the road to meet No. 20/20 Louisville April 5 and Cincinnati April 7 in a pair of BIG EAST contests.