March 12, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The No. 6/8 University of Notre Dame women's lacrosse team hits the road this week for a spring break matchup with the Vanderbilt Commodores that's set for 4 p.m. (ET) Wednesday in Nashville, Tenn.
The Irish (5-0) are off to the fourth-best start in school history and are coming off another come-from-behind win this past Saturday, as they out-scored Boston University, 12-3, in the second half to knock off the Terriers, 16-11.
So far this season Notre Dame has shown remarkable depth on both ends of the field, as nine players have scored four or more goals, six have three or more assists, eight have five or more ground balls, seven have four or more draw controls and five have four or more caused turnovers.
Morrison leads the Irish in both goals (11) and assists (7), while Sullivan leads the team in ground balls (20). Senior McKenzie Brown paces the Irish in draw controls (12) and freshman Stephanie Peragallo leads the squad in caused turnovers (13).
Vanderbilt (1-6) has a deceiving record so far this season as they have battled top-six teams Northwestern and Duke as well as Denver, Boston College and Louisville, who are all receiving votes in the latest IWLCA Coaches Poll. Recently the Commodores have lost close contests on the road to No. 6 Duke (15-12) and Louisville (13-10).
Carly Linthicum leads the Vandy offense as she is putting the ball in the back of the net at a frantic pace. The senior already has 27 goals on 47 shots. She is also second on the team in assists with six to give her a team-leading 33 points.
Last year the two teams played in a classic game at Arlotta Stadium as the Irish pulled out the 12-11 win in a game that went down to the final seconds. The Irish took a 12-10 lead with 5:31 left in the game. However, the Commodores wouldn't go away as they trimmed the margin to 12-11 with 1:43 left. Vanderbilt then had two opportunities to tie the score at 12, but a pair of turnovers, including one with five seconds remaining in front of the Irish goal, secured the win to Notre Dame.
Fans can follow the match through live stats or Vanderbilt's online live video. A link to purchase the video can be found on UND.com along with a link to live stats.
THE OPENING DRAW
Starting The Season Undefeated
Notre Dame is off to a 5-0 start for only the fourth time in school history ... they join the 2004 (10-0), 2006 (7-0) and 2012 (8-0) teams in that exclusive club ... Notre Dame's next five opponents include Vanderbilt (March 13), Rutgers (March 22), Villanova (March 24), Louisville (April 5) and Cincinnati (April 7).
So far this season the Irish have made a habit of staging second half comebacks ... in three of its five wins Notre Dame has trailed by two or more goals at half ... these include 7-2 at Stanford (Feb. 16), 5-3 at Duquesne (March 2) and 8-4 versus Boston University (March 9) ... in all three contests the Irish came out blazing, out-scoring the competition by a wide margin in the second frame ... Notre Dame outscored the Cardinal, 10-3, the Dukes, 7-3, and the Terriers, 12-3, to earn victories in each contest.
A Game For The Ages
Sophomore Barbara Sullivan turned in arguably one of the best games by a defender in Notre Dame history against Boston University (March 9) as she tallied a career-high eight ground balls and a career-high five turnovers ... she also added two draw controls and dished out her first career assist ... one memorable play to start the second half saw Sullivan cause a turnover, claim the ensuing ground ball, dart several yards up the field and pass the pall to teammate Jaimie Morrison, who put the ball in the back of the net just 45 seconds into the half to begin the Irish comeback ... for her efforts she earned a spot on the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll.
Jack Of All Trades
Junior All-American and Tewaaraton Award Watch List member Margaret Smith has shown she can do just about everything on the field so far this season as she has scored eight goals on only 15 shots, collected 10 ground balls and 11 draw controls and caused 12 turnovers ... Smith is tied for second in caused turnovers, second in draw controls, tied for third in goals and third in ground balls ... in a 13-8 home win over Ohio State, the Westminster, Md., native had a monster game, scoring four goals on five shots, collecting four ground balls and three draw controls and causing five turnovers ... for efforts for the week of Feb. 25 - March 3, Smith earned BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week honors.
Seniors Leading On Offense
Seniors Jaimie Morrison and Jenny Granger have shown so far this season that they are adept at leading the Irish offensive attack ... they sit one and two on the team in points, goals and assists as Morrison has 18 points (11G, 7A), while Granger has 16 points (10G, 6A) ... Morrison has been placed on the BIG EAST's Weekly Honor Roll twice after impressive performances ... the first was for the week of Feb. 25 - March 3 where she scored four goals and dished out four assists as ND went 2-0 ... the second was for the week of March 4-March 10 where she recorded six goals, two assists, three ground balls and a caused turnover in two Irish wins.
Senior Leader In The Cage
Senior goalie Ellie Hilling brings a wealth of experience to the Notre Dame defense as she is in her fourth year as starter ... five games into the 2013 season, Hilling is first in school history in minutes played (3,487:38), tied for first in games played (59), second in wins (38) and third in saves (439) ... Hilling in on pace to break the remaining three 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 ... this year she stopped 12 shots in a 10-8 win at Duquesne.
Senior Jenny Granger has 68 career goals ... to break into the top 10 she needs 15 more ... senior Jaimie Morrison (57 career goals) and junior Kaitlyn Brosco (56 career goals) need 26 and 27 more goals, respectively, to break into the top 10 ... junior Lindsay Powell (48 career goals) isn't far behind ... Granger is also knocking on the door for career assists ... she has 33, just 10 behind 10th place ... senior Ellie Hilling (124) is now tied for eighth place in ground balls for a career ... if she reaches her career single-season average, she would move into the top four ... Margaret Smith has 79 draw controls in her career and would break into the top 10 with 12 more this season ... Smith is also on pace to break into the top 10 in caused turnovers ... she has 58 and needs just three to tie assistant coach Jill Byers for 10th all-time ... sophomore Barbara Sullivan (44) would also move into the top 10 in caused turnovers if she has 17 or more this season after causing 32 as a freshman and 12 so far this season.
Home Openers Friendly For The Irish
With a 13-8 win over No. 13/18 Ohio State Feb. 27, Notre Dame improved to 11-6 all-time in home openers ... Notre Dame has now won both home openers under second-year head coach Christine Halfpenny ... last year the Irish defeated No. 6 Stanford, 17-14.
Tewaaraton Award Watch List
Junior Margaret Smith and sophomore Barbara Sullivan were named to the Tewaaraton Award Watch List Feb. 23 ... the duo are on the list with 50 fellow student-athletes, including 45 from Division I schools ... the pair was only two of seven from BIG EAST schools ... the award goes to the best player in women's lacrosse ... last year Maggie Tamasitis was named a Tewaaraton Award Nominee.
Another Season-Opening Win
Notre Dame improved to 15-2 all-time in season openers with its 12-10 win over Stanford Feb. 16.
For her efforts on the defensive end in Notre Dame's win over Stanford, freshman Stephanie Peragallo earned BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week honors ... she was the first Irish player to earn defensive player of the week accolades since Ellie Hilling in 2012 after a monster 13-save, six-ground ball and two-caused turnover performance at Ohio State.
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.
The matchup at Stanford and the home contest against No. 13/18 Ohio State were just two 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 or the Loftus Sports Center.
Among the 10 freshmen that are seeing 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.
Junior Margaret Smith, sophomore Barbara Sullivan and assistant coach Jill Byers all 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
With the addition of new assistants Jill Byers and Jake Marmul, head coach Christine 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 face off.
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."