Feb. 15, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Year two under head coach Christine Halfpenny gets started at 6 p.m. (ET)/3 p.m. (PT) Saturday night at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium at Maloney Field in Palo Alto, Calif., as the No. 8/9 University of Notre Dame women's lacrosse team meets Stanford in the season opener for both teams.
The Irish (13-5) look to build on an impressive 2012 season under Halfpenny. Notre Dame started the year 8-0 and qualified for both the BIG EAST and NCAA Tournaments after missing the NCAAs in 2011.
Returning are 18 monogram winners, eight players who scored 10 or more goals and a three-year starter in goal in Ellie Hilling. The Irish also welcome in 10 freshmen that are looking to compete for playing time immediately.
Notre Dame was picked third in the BIG EAST preseason, while juniors Margaret Smith and Lindsay Powell and sophomore Barbara Sullivan all earned preseason all-BIG EAST honors. In the national rankings the Irish were picked ninth in the IWLCA Preseason poll, while the deBeer Media Poll tabbed the Irish eighth.
The Cardinal (8-10 in 2012) look to get the season started off on the right foot after a disappointing 2012 season saw them lose the MPSF title for the first time in eight years.
They return nine starters, including all-MPSF selection Anna Kim, and welcome in 11 freshmen.
The meeting will be the 13th in the series between the two teams, with Notre Dame holding an 8-4 edge against Stanford. The Irish are 4-2 at Arlotta and 4-2 in Palo Alto.
Last year the Irish got Halfpenny her first win under the Golden Dome with a 17-14 win over Stanford at Arlotta Stadium. Notre Dame looked impressive offensively as they lit up the scoreboard with 12 first half goals. Scoring early and often was Lindsay Powell, who found the back of the net five times in her collegiate debut. Jaimie Morrison added four goals and Megan Sullivan three as four players scored two or more goals. Maggie Tamasitis got her impressive senior campaign underway with six assists and a goal to earn BIG EAST Offensive Player of the Week accolades and Womenslax.com Player of the Week honors.
SEASON PREVIEW AND NOTES
Optimism Abounds In Halfpenny's Second Season
Coming off an impressive 2012 season, a talented team guns for league and national supremacy.
A new era for Notre Dame women's lacrosse began in 2012 when Christine Halfpenny took over the program and led the Irish to a 13-5 record and trips to the BIG EAST Semifinals and to the first round of the NCAA Championship in her inaugural season.
Now in year two, Halfpenny and her squad of 31 have big expectations for the 2013 season. Gone are seven monogram winners that accounted for over 37% of the 348 points on the season, but eight starters return, highlighted by three all-region performers and senior goalkeeper Ellie Hilling. Ten freshmen join the fold to help fill empty positions and add depth.
"I would be foolish to say we won't miss Maggie (Tamasitis) distributing the ball near the goal," says Halfpenny. "She is a special player. However it has been really nice to see the players that have moved up into that role. I don't think we'll have one player that steps into that role completely, but I think a number of players will be dynamic enough to feed, to score off the feed and to drive to the goal."
Smith and Sullivan were first team IWLCA West/Midwest all-region, while Powell was a second team selection. Smith also became the 15th All-American in Notre Dame history when she was named to the IWLCA third team. All three were named to the preseason all-BIG EAST squad.
A plethora of other key contributors return, including seniors Jaimie Morrison (34G, 14GB), Jenny Granger (20G, 12A, 14GB), Betsy Mastropieri (12G), McKenzie Brown (22DC) and Emily Conner (14GB, 14CT), juniors Kaitlyn Brosco (22G), Lauren Sullivan (13G) and Grace Dooley (4G, 10GB, 14DC) and sophomore Caitlin Gargan (11G, 10DC). Also returning is Hilling, who is on pace to break virtually ever goalie record at Notre Dame as she enters her fourth year as a starter.
"We are excited to see the season that Jaimie (Morrison) and Jenny (Granger) will have as they are playing with that senior sense of urgency," says Halfpenny. "They are meshing well with the new players and that should make for a dynamic offense. We want to continue spreading the field and incorporate our high-octane offense.
"On defense we are fortunate to have Ellie (Hilling) back there in goal for us. Ellie has unfinished business and the career minutes played rival any goalie in the country. Her game experience is really stepping our defense up another level. She is going to look more dynamic this year, as she has worked hard during the offseason to develop her game even more. She wants to lead the team. She is our quarterback and will start our fast break as she uses her clearing ability and her vision to get our offense going."
"Our entire freshman class has been unbelievable so far," says Halfpenny. "They are fast and talented, have proven that they have a high lacrosse IQ and have shown that they are used to playing in big moments. We are very interested to see how they fit in with our team this season."
The Irish must forge through a tough schedule that sees them play three 2012 NCAA Championship teams and five preseason top 20 teams. Four of the five games against ranked foes will be played at the friendly confines of Arlotta Stadium.
A trip to Stanford opens the season Feb. 16, before the Irish open the home schedule Feb. 27 against No. 20 Ohio State.
If Notre Dame can come together using veterans and rookies alike to navigate a tough schedule successfully, look for the Irish to be back in the BIG EAST and NCAA Championships as a team capable of making a run in year two of Halfpenny's tenure.
THE OPENING DRAW
Head coach Christine Halfpenny named senior Jenny Granger and junior Margaret Smith as co-captains of this year's squad ... Granger, a three-time monogram winner, scored 20 goals, dished out 12 assists, scooped up 14 ground balls and 10 draw controls and caused eight turnovers last season ... Smith, a preseason all-BIG EAST selection, is coming off a sophomore campaign where she was named third team IWLCA All-American and first team all-BIG EAST and IWLCA West/Midwest all-region after collecting 37 ground balls and 47 draw controls and causing 31 turnovers.
Trio Honored By BIG EAST
Juniors Lindsay Powell and Margaret Smith and sophomore Barbara Sullivan were named to the preseason all-BIG EAST team ... Smith and Sullivan were unanimous selections ... Powell was a second team all-BIG EAST and IWLCA West/Midwest all-region performer last year ... Smith was an IWLCA third team All-American and a first team all-BIG EAST and IWLCA West/Midwest all-region honoree ... Sullivan was a first team IWLCA West/Midwest all-region and second team all-BIG EAST performer.
When the Irish kick off the 2013 campaign on Feb. 16 at Stanford it will mark the first of many tough challenges for ND during the regular season ... the Irish are playing five teams that ended 2012 ranked (Ohio State, Loyola, Georgetown, Northwestern and Syracuse) and three NCAA Championship teams (Loyola, Syracuse, Northwestern) ... Northwestern won the title, Syracuse was runner up and Loyola made the quarterfinals ... fortunately all but the Syracuse game will be in the friendly confines of Arlotta Stadium.
Senior Leader In The Cage
Senior goalie Ellie Hilling brings a wealth of experience to the Notre Dame defense as she is entering her fourth year as starter ... heading into the 2013 season, Hilling is second in school history in wins (33) and minutes played (3,205:23), third in games played (54) and fourth in saves (407) ... Hilling in on pace to break all four of those records by midseason ... last year the Rochester, N.Y., native had seven games with 10-plus saves, including a career-high 16 in wins over Ohio State and Georgetown.
Senior Jenny Granger has 58 career goals ... to break into the top 10 she needs 25 ... junior Kaitlyn Brosco has 54 career goals ... to break into the top 10 she needs 29 ... senior Jaimie Morrison (46 career goals) and junior Lindsay Powell (44 career goals) aren't far behind ... Granger is also knocking on the door for career assists ... she currently has 27, just 16 behind 10th place ... senior Ellie Hilling (118) is just two ground balls behind 10th place ... if she reaches her career single-season average, she would move into the top four ... Margaret Smith has 68 draw controls through two years and would break into the top 10 with 23 this season ... Smith is also on pace to break into the top 10 in caused turnovers ... she has 46 through two years and needs just 15 to tie assistant coach Jill Byers for 10th all-time ... sophomore Barbara Sullivan would also move into the top 10 in caused turnovers if she has 29 or more this season after causing 32 as a freshman.
Among the 10 freshmen that will see their first action for Notre Dame in the spring, are a pair of standouts that were named to Lacrosse Magazine's "Freshman 15" ... the two Stephanies, Stephanie Toy and Stephanie Peragallo, were each honored by the magazine back in September.
reached the final round of qualifying for the US National Team this summer ... Byers played for four years on Team USA, while Sullivan was on the 2011 U.S. women's national under-19 team that won a gold medal at the U-19 Women's Lacrosse World Championship in Hanover, Germany.
Second Year For Halfpenny
The transition year from William & Mary to Notre Dame is over for second-year head coach Christine Halfpenny ... Halfpenny didn't seem to have too much trouble transitioning in her first season, as the Irish jumped out to an 8-0 start on their way to a 13-5 season in which they qualified for the BIG EAST and NCAA Championships ... the 13 regular-season wins tied for first in school history, while the 13 wins overall tied for third in school history.
Replacing An Impressive Senior Class
When eight student-athletes concluded their eligibility last season, the Irish lost some talented performers ... among the most notable losses were IWLCA second team All-American Maggie Tamasitis and IWLCA second team West/Midwest all-region performer Megan Sullivan ... Tamasitis ended her career as the school's all-time leader in assists in a half, game, season and career and finished fourth in points ... last year Tamasitis had 82 of Notre Dame's 348 points or almost 24% ... Sullivan had a breakout senior year by doing a little bit of everything in the middle of the field ... she scored 24 goals, collected 23 ground balls and 27 draw controls and caused 15 turnovers ... Sullivan earned second team all-BIG EAST in addition to all-region accolades, while Tamasitis was named first team in both categories.
Homecoming For A Pair Of ND Lacrosse Alums
Halfpenny brought in two new coaches with deep Notre Dame roots. Byers, a four-time All-American, is a 2009 graduate that still holds a plethora of school records including goals and points in a career ... Marmul, a 2011 graduate, played for the men's team and specialized in the opening draw.
Follow The Irish
Fans can follow the Irish in a multitude of ways through social media ... ND WLAX is on Facebook at facebook.com/NDWLAX ... on Twitter (@NDWomensLax) ... coach Halfpenny is also on Twitter (@NDcoachPenny) ... on the web at UND.com/sports/w-lacros/nd-wlacros-body.html ... on the blogs at ndlacrosse.wordpress.com ... speaking of the blogs, senior Emily Conner will piggy back her summer series "Lax In The City" with a season-long blog entitled "No Time To ReLAX."