April 4, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Following an almost two-week break from games, the No. 6/7 University of Notre Dame women's lacrosse team returns to action this weekend as it travels to BIG EAST foes Louisville (5 p.m. Friday) and Cincinnati (1 p.m. Sunday).
The Irish (8-0, 2-0 BIG EAST) are off to another impressive start under head coach Christine Halfpenny. Notre Dame has now started off the season 8-0 in each of Halfpenny's two years with the program. With two wins this weekend, the squad would tie the 2004 team (10-0) for the best start in school history. The two wins would also give the Irish a 4-0 start in BIG EAST play for only the second time in school history (2002 - 4-0). The 2001 and 2004 teams got off to a 3-0 start before suffering their first conference loss of the season.
Fans can follow both matches through the gametracker links on UND.com. The Cincinnati game will also be available through paid live video. A link for the video stream is also available on UND.com.
Louisville - 5 p.m. Friday
Louisville (7-3) suffered a pair of road losses March 22 and March 24 to No. 15 Loyola (11-6) and No. 9 Georgetown (14-11) after getting off to a 7-1 start to the season. Included in the seven wins were home victories over Ohio State (12-11) and Vanderbilt (13-10). The only other common opponent was Detroit, who the Cardinals beat on the road, 19-2.
The Cardinals have been in and out of the rankings for much of the year, receiving votes in the deBeer Media Poll for three straight weeks from Feb. 25 - March 11, before entering the rankings at No. 20 March 18. After receiving votes March 25, Louisville dropped out in the most recent poll (April 1) after the pair of losses last weekend.
Louisville is led by preseason all-BIG EAST selection Nikki Boltja, who has a remarkable 40 points through 10 games (33G, 7A). Teammate Kaylin Morissette has 26 goals. In all six players have 14 or more points this year.
In goal Ashley Herbst has earned all the decisions and has an impressive 8.12 goals against average with 56 saves.
Notre Dame is 4-0 all-time versus, but not without several close calls. After the Irish rolled past the Cardinals, 20-8, in Louisville's inaugural season in 2009, the last three games have all been decided by two goals or less.
Last year the Irish held on for a 13-11 victory at Arlotta Stadium. Louisville led 5-1 just 13:26 into the game, but Notre Dame roared back to tie the score at five entering halftime. The Irish scored four more goals to open the second half, which made the score 10-5 and concluded their 9-0 run. Louisville out-scored the Irish 6-3 over the remainder of the game, but Notre Dame held on to move to 7-0.
Cincinnati - 1 p.m. Sunday
Cincinnati (5-4, 0-2 BIG EAST) is coming off a 16-6 win over Detroit Friday as the Bearcats opened up the brand new Sheakley Athletics Center in fine fashion. With the win UC improved to 4-0 at home this season.
The Bearcats opened up BIG EAST play with a pair of tough outings at No. 9 Georgetown (21-3) and No. 15 Loyola (19-0) March 22 and 24.
Taylor Young's 20 goals and three assists lead Cincinnati. Kylie Ramsland (18G) and Megan Bell (16G) also have found the back of the net 15-plus times.
In goal Meg Gulmi has an 11.30 goals against average with 67 saves.
Notre Dame is also a perfect 4-0 against the Bearcats, including a historic 22-2 win last year at Arlotta Stadium.
THE OPENING DRAW
Starting The Season Undefeated
Notre Dame is off to an 8-0 start for only the third time in school history and for the second time in two years under head coach Christine Halfpenny ... the Irish join the 2004 (10-0) and 2012 (8-0) teams in that exclusive club ... Notre Dame's next two opponents are Louisville (April 5) and Cincinnati (April 7) ... if it wins both they would tie the 2004 squad for the best start in school history ... the Irish are one of just two teams that are perfect at this point in the season ... the other is No. 1 Maryland (13-0).
So far this season the Irish have made a habit of staging second half comebacks ... in three of its eight 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 game ... the Irish also trailed 6-5 early in the second half of the game against Vanderbilt before coming back to win 12-11 in Nashville over the Commodores.
Second Half Team
As referenced in the previous note, the Irish have been a second half team all season ... the numbers back it up too as the Irish hold a slim 41-32 edge in goals scored in the first half but have dominated in the second half, 67-25 ... the total goes from +9 in the first half to +42 in the second half ... more shots are the obvious reason for the big disparity ... in the first half Notre Dame has taken 101 shots, while the opponents have taken 91 ... in the second half the Irish have taken 132, while limiting their opponents to just 70, a difference of 62 ... quality shots (aka shots on goal) show a big disparity too as Notre Dame leads in the first half 80-64 in shots, but 104-49 in the second half, a difference of 55.
A Smothering Defense
While the Notre Dame offense has done its part on the opponent's end of the field, the Irish defense has proved to be pesky and sometimes smothering to the opponent's offense ... the Irish are allowing just 7.13 goals a game, which puts them second in the BIG EAST and fifth in the country ... ND is also first in the league in caused turnovers (10.88) and ground balls per game (19.75) and fifth in draw controls (12.88) ... in those same categories the Irish are seventh in CT, sixth in GB and 32nd in DC in the country.
Jack Of All Trades
Junior All-American and Tewaaraton Award Watch List member Margaret Smith has shown that she can do just about everything on the field so far this season as she has scored nine goals on 21 shots, collected 17 ground balls and 14 draw controls and caused 15 turnovers ... 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 Granger has 26 points (16G, 10A), while Morrison has 25 points (15G, 10A) ... 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 ... Granger has found herself on the weekly honor roll once, after scoring four goals and dished out three assists during a 2-0 weekend for the Irish against then-No. 19/RV Rutgers and Villanova March 22 and March 24.
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 ... eight games into the 2013 season, Hilling is first in school goalie history in minutes played (3,665:23), games played (62) and wins (41) and is third in saves (462) ... Hilling in on pace to break the saves record by midseason ... she is also seventh in save percentage (.438) and second in goals against average (9.71) ... 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 and 12 more in a 14-2 win over Villanova ... for her efforts against Rutgers and Villanova, where she allowed an average of four goals a game and produced a .714 save percentage in the two wins, Hilling earned a spot on the BIG EAST's Weekly Honor Roll for the first time this season ... she has stopped five or more shots in six of the eight games and has two or more ground balls in five games including four in a row.
Senior Jenny Granger has 74 career goals ... to break into the top 10 she needs nine more ... senior Jaimie Morrison (61 career goals) and junior Kaitlyn Brosco (59 career goals) need 22 and 24 more goals, respectively, to break into the top 10 ... junior Lindsay Powell (51 career goals) isn't far behind ... Granger is also knocking on the door for career assists ... she has 37, just six behind 10th place ... senior Ellie Hilling (135) is sixth 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 82 draw controls in her career and would break into the top 10 with nine more this season ... Smith is now tied for 10th in caused turnovers ... she has 61 and tied with assistant coach Jill Byers ... sophomore Barbara Sullivan (46) would also move into the top 10 in caused turnovers if she has 15 or more this season after causing 32 as a freshman and 14 so far this season.
NCAA Stats Watch
Checking around the NCAA top 25, several Irish performers find their name in the national rankings ... goalie Ellie Hilling is seventh in goals-against average (7.30) and eighth in save percentage (.495) ... freshman defender Stephanie Peragallo is ninth in caused turnovers a game (2.13) ... junior midfielder Margaret Smith is 17th in the same category (1.88), while sophomore defender Barbara Sullivan is tied for 24th (1.75) ... Sullivan is also fourth in ground balls per game (3.63) ... as a team the Irish are tied for 17th in scoring offense with 13.50 goals per game and fifth in scoring defense, allowing only 7.13 goals per game ... the scoring margin of 6.38 goals per game puts ND ninth ... the Irish are also seventh in caused turnovers per game (10.88) and sixth in ground balls per game (19.75).
BIG EAST Stats Watch
Notre Dame is first in the BIG EAST in assists per game (7.75), ground balls per game (19.75), caused turnovers per game (10.88) and points per game (21.25) ... individually, Lauren Sullivan is tied for first in game-winning goals (3) and Barbara Sullivan is first in ground balls per game (3.62) ... the Irish have three players in the top five in caused turnovers per game ... Peragallo (2nd - 2.12), Smith (4th - 1.88) and B. Sullivan (1.75).
The matchup at Stanford and the home contests against No. 13/18 Ohio State and No. 19/RV Rutgers were just three of the 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 ... in the April 1 deBeer Media Poll, six Irish opponents show up in the rankings - No. 3 Northwestern, No. 8 Syracuse, No. 9 Georgetown, No. 15 Loyola, No. 17 Rutgers and T-No. 20 Stanford.
Sophomore Barbara Sullivan played a key roll in Notre Dame's 12-11 come-from-behind win over Vanderbilt as she dominated the draw control in the second half ... the Garden City, N.Y., native collected nine to tie a school record for draw controls in a game ... she also had a team-high five ground balls ... for her efforts she was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll for the second consecutive week.
A Game For The Ages
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.
In Notre Dame's 22-1 win over Detroit March 5 a pair of school records were reached as the Irish handled the Titans ... the 22 goals tied the school record for goals in a home game ... the 21 goal margin of victory was the most in program history, topping last year's Senior Day win over Cincinnati (22-2) ... the one goal allowed tied for the second fewest in school history ... the Irish defeated Loyola, 11-1, in 2007 and shut out Villanova, 16-0, in 2010.
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.
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."