May 27, 2006
Boston, Mass. - The Notre Dame women's lacrosse team got its first taste of NCAA Championship action on Friday night at Boston University's Nickerson Field with the Fighting Irish falling to the Dartmouth Big Green, 14-8, in front of a crowd of 3,701 in the NCAA semifinal round.
The tough loss ends the finest season in the program's 10-year history with a 15-4 overall record. The win sends Dartmouth (14-5) on to the NCAA finals on Sunday afternoon versus Northwestern in a 12:00 noon game. The Wildcats advanced to the finals with an 11-10 overtime win earlier in the evening against Duke.
Notre Dame was paced by All-American and Tewaaraton Trophy candidate Crysti Foote who had three goals and two assists in the final game of her brilliant Irish career. Caitlin McKinney chipped in three goals of her own with an assist and Heather Ferguson rounded out Notre Dame's offensive attack with a pair of goals.
Dartmouth was led by Whitney Douthett with four goals and two assists in the game. Kristen Zimmer also had six points with three goals and three assists with Casey Hazel, Sarah Szefi and Kristen Barry each getting two markers on the evening.
"Our goal coming into the weekend was to win a national championship. We didn't get that done," said Irish head coach Tracy Coyne.
"I'm awfully proud of this team and what they accomplished this year. I love what I do and I love my team."
Dartmouth, a team known for its stingy defense, took the play to the Irish early in the game.
Douthette opened the scoring just 58 seconds into the game, scoring on a free-
position shot after being fouled by Meaghan Fitzpatrick.
Notre Dame came right back and had a great scoring chance when Alicia Billings was fouled as she slid to the front of the net. Her free-position shot bounced over the goal and Dartmouth took possession.
Szefi made it 2-0 Dartmouth at 24:18 when she picked up a loose ball in front of the Irish goal and shot it past goalkeeper Carol Dixon. The lead would go to 3-0 just 40 seconds later at 23:38 when Zimmer found Douthette cutting to the goal and fed her in front.
Zimmer was on the receiving end of a great pass from Szefi who hustled to keep the ball in Dartmouth's possession after a shot bounced over the goal to give the Big Green a four-goal lead. The Irish never recovered.
"When we fell behind by four goals that wasn't our team playing," said Caitlin McKinney in the post-game press conference.
"We're a hustling, physical team and that just wasn't us out there early in the game."
The sophomore attack tried to do something about it. She took a pass from Foote at 18:44 and scored on Notre Dame's second shot of the game at 18:44.
The goal gave the Irish some momentum as they controlled the following draw and raced down the field with Foote taking the ball hard to the goal where she was fouled. Her free-position shot cut the Dartmouth lead to 4-2 just 32 seconds after McKinney's goal.
The score would stay 4-2 for over 10 minutes when the Big Green were able to force a turnover in the Notre Dame zone that gave Hazel a clean breakaway on Dixon and she converted with 7:35 left in the half.
Foote answered back just 13 seconds later as she carried the ball down the middle, right to the goal and bounced a shot past Wills to make it 5-3.
Dartmouth closed out the half on a Barry goal with 2:32 left in the half for a 6-3 lead at halftime.
The second half started much the same way as the first did with the Big Green scoring the first three goals in a span of 4:26 to build the lead to 9-3.
Douthette scored her third of the game just 42 seconds into the half and Barry made it 8-3 at 27:03. Zimmer picked up her second of the game at 25:34 for the six-goal lead.
The Irish weren't ready to finish the season though. McKinney knifed through the middle of the Dartmouth defense to beat Wills at 23:30 and Foote found Ferguson in front for a shot at 20:20 to make it 9-5.
Following a Big Green timeout, Dartmouth would run off three more goals to essentially put the game away. Douthette (17:07), Zimmer (14:35) and Szefi (12:03) built the lead to 12-5 as time wound down.
Foote scored her third of the game and what would be her 74th goal of the year and final goal of her career with 9:05 left in the game as she beat the defense sliding in front and whipping a shot behind her back over Wills' stick.
Hazel and Annie Leibovitz finished off the Dartmouth scoring with goals at 7:47 and 5:21 for a 14-6 lead.
McKinney scored off a free-position shot with 17 seconds left and Ferguson got the final goal of the night off a McKinney assist with six seconds left to end Notre Dame's dream season at 14-8.
For Foote it was a season that she will remember for a long time.
"When we were 3-12 last year, we could just sit and be okay with it or we could do something about it to turn it around," said the senior attack/midfielder.
"I'll always remember the success that we had this year. I'm very proud of what this team accomplished."
* Notre Dame's eight goals in the game was a season-low for the Irish. It was the first game all season that Notre Dame did not score in double digits. The previous low was 10 goals and that came in losses to Duke and Georgetown.
* Crysti Foote finished her Notre Dame career with 161 goals and 76 assists for 237 career points. She ended her career on a 29-game scoring streak (100-52-152) that started in the middle of last season.
* Freshman Jillian Byers was held scoreless for the first time all season. Her 18-game scoring streak (54-24-78) was snapped in the game.
* With her three goal game, sophomore Caitlin McKinney finished the season with 42 goals, giving the Irish three players - Crysti Foote (74) and Jillian Byers (54) - with 40 or more goals in one season for the first time ever.
* The start of play for the two games was delayed for about an hour due to rain and thunderstorms that hit Boston on Friday afternoon. Notre Dame's game that was scheduled to start at 8:30 p.m. actually started at 10:05 p.m.