April 11, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Halfway through the BIG EAST season, the No. 5/6 University of Notre Dame women's lacrosse team begins a tough stretch run that sees the Irish play five ranked teams in a row, including three top-10 squads, this weekend when No. 17/20 Loyola and No. 8/8 Georgetown invade Arlotta Stadium.
The Irish and Greyhounds battle at 7 p.m. Friday, while the Hoyas face off with Notre Dame at 2 p.m. Sunday.
Notre Dame is coming off a thrilling 16-15 2OT win at Louisville last Friday and a 13-6 win over Cincinnati last Sunday. Leading the squad were BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll performers Jaimie Morrison and Barbara Sullivan. Morrison totaled nine points (4G, 5A) against the Cardinals, which put her into a tie for third in school history for points in a game and into a tie for second in the program records for points in a road game. Sullivan meanwhile had seven ground balls, 10 draw controls and six caused turnovers in the two wins.
Loyola - 7 p.m. Friday
Loyola (5-6, 2-1 BIG EAST) is coming off a 14-11 loss to then-No. 9 Georgetown. The Greyhounds got off to a slow start this season, losing five or their first seven contests, including three games to teams ranked in the top 20. However, Loyola has found its stride as of late, winning three of its last four including a convincing 11-6 win of then-No. 20 Louisville and a 19-0 shutout of Cincinnati. Earlier in the season the Greyhounds picked up a pair of impressive victories over then-No. 10 Penn State, 13-11, and then-No. 16 Towson, 11-10.
The Greyhounds are led by junior preseason all-BIG EAST honoree Marlee Paton, who has 27 points (16G, 11A), and sophomore Hannah Schmitt, who has a team-high 21 goals. Paton also leads the defense with 26 ground balls and 16 caused turnovers. In goal, Molly Wolf has a 10.23 goals-against average and has 67 saves.
Other preseason all-BIG EAST selections include the sophomore sisters Annie Thomas (14G, 8A, 6GB, 3DC, 2CT) and Sydney Thomas (8G, 10A, 19GB, 6DC, 3CT).
Notre Dame holds a slim 5-4 lead all-time, but Loyola has won the last four contests, with all four coming in the last two seasons. Last year the Greyhounds handed the Irish their first loss of the season by way of a 17-11 decision in Baltimore, Md., before eliminating Notre Dame in the BIG EAST Semifinals in Syracuse, 11-9. In 2011, the Greyhounds topped the Irish, 12-10, to win their first BIG EAST Championship.
Georgetown - 2 p.m. Sunday
The Hoyas (8-2, 4-1 BIG EAST) jumped out to a 4-0 start to begin the season and are coming off a 14-11 win at Loyola this past weekend. Georgetown boasts common wins over Stanford (15-8), Cincinnati (21-3) and Louisville (14-11).
Sophomore Caroline Tarzian leads the way with 26 goals and 11 assists for a team-high 37 points. Junior Kelyn Freedman isn't far behind with 22 goals and a team-high 30 draw controls.
Preseason all-BIG EAST selection Sophia Thomas continues to be an impressive all-around performer for the Hoyas by running up a stat line of 10 goals, three assists, 12 ground balls, 17 draw controls and 11 caused turnovers. Other preseason all-BIG EAST selections include Kelsi Bozel (9G, 4A, 9GB, 27DC, 5CT) and Ashley Hunter (13GB, 5DC, 10CT).
In goal Barb Black sports a 7-2 record, a 10.24 goals-against average and has 97 saves.
Georgetown leads the all-time series 11-7, but the Irish are 7-4 against the Hoyas since claiming their first win in the quarterfinals of the 2006 NCAA Tournament to reach the Final Four. Notre Dame boasts a three-game winning streak against Georgetown, including a thrilling 7-6 2OT win over the Hoyas last year in Washington, D.C. After senior Megan Sullivan caused a Hoya turnover, she passed to Lindsay Powell, who darted 30 yards up the field to score the winning goal for the Irish in the second overtime session.
THE OPENING DRAW
Starting The Season Undefeated
Notre Dame is off to a 10-0 start for only the second time in school history ... the Irish join the 2004 (10-0) in that exclusive club ... Notre Dame's next two opponents are No. 17/20 Loyola (April 12) and No. 8/8 Georgetown (April 7) ... if ND defeats the Greyhounds, it would establish a new school standard for the best start in program history ... the Irish are one of just two teams that are perfect at this point in the season ... the other is No. 1 Maryland (14-0) ... the strong start marks the second year in a row that head coach Christine Halfpenny has gotten her team off on the right foot ... last year ND opened the 2012 campaign at 8-0 ... the Irish are also 4-0 in BIG EAST play, tying the 2002 squad for the best start in conference play.
So far this season the Irish have made a habit of staging second half comebacks ... in four of its 10 wins Notre Dame has trailed at the half ... these include 7-2 at Stanford (Feb. 16), 5-3 at Duquesne (March 2), 8-4 versus Boston University (March 9) and 7-6 versus Louisville (April 5) ... in the first three contests the Irish came out blazing, out-scoring the competition by a wide margin in the second frame, while against the Cardinals the Irish claimed a 2OT win ... Notre Dame outscored Stanford, 10-3, Duquesne, 7-3, and Boston, 12-3, in the second half 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 54-42 edge in goals scored in the first half but have dominated in the second half, 82-36 ... the total goes from +12 in the first half to +46 in the second half ... more shots are the obvious reason for the big disparity ... in the first half Notre Dame has taken 132 shots, while the opponents have taken 115 ... in the second half the Irish have taken 162, while limiting their opponents to just 93, a difference of 69 ... quality shots (aka shots on goal) show a big disparity too as Notre Dame leads in the first half 104-82 in shots, but 129-67 in the second half, a difference of 62.
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 7.80 goals a game, which puts them second in the BIG EAST and 10th in the country ... ND is also first in the league in caused turnovers (10.30) and ground balls per game (18.50) and fourth in draw controls (13.10) ... in those same categories the Irish are ninth in CT, 15th in GB and 24th 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 11 goals on 25 shots, collected 21 ground balls and 21 draw controls and caused 19 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 Jenny Granger and Jaimie Morrison and have shown so far this season that they are the leaders of the Irish offensive attack ... they sit one and two on the team in points, goals and assists as Granger has 35 points (23G, 12A), while Morrison has 34 points (19G, 15A) ... Morrison has been placed on the BIG EAST's Weekly Honor Roll three times 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 ... the final came after the Yorktown Heights, N.Y., native turned in a sterling performance in a 16-15, 2OT win at Louisville, recording nine points (4G, 5A) to tie for third in ND history for points in a game and tie for second in program history for points in a road game ... 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 ... 10 games into the 2013 season, Hilling is first in school goalie history in minutes played (3,754:37), games played (64) and wins (42) and is third in saves (472) ... Hilling in on pace to break the saves record by midseason ... she is also second in goals against average (9.73) and seventh in save percentage (.437) ... 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 seven of the 10 games and has two or more ground balls in five games including four of the last six.
Senior Jenny Granger has 81 career goals ... to break into the top 10 she needs two more ... senior Jaimie Morrison (65 career goals) and junior Kaitlyn Brosco (59 career goals) need 18 and 24 more goals, respectively, to break into the top 10 ... junior Lindsay Powell (54 career goals) isn't far behind ... Granger is also knocking on the door for career assists ... she has 39, just four behind 10th place ... senior Ellie Hilling (136) 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 89 draw controls in her career and would break into the top 10 with two more this season ... Smith is now ninth in caused turnovers with 65 ... sophomore Barbara Sullivan (52) would also move into the top 10 in caused turnovers if she has nine or more this season after causing 32 as a freshman and 20 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 13th in goals-against average (7.87) and 11th in save percentage (.474) ... sophomore defender Barbara Sullivan is tied for 10th in caused turnovers a game (2.00) ... junior midfielder Margaret Smith is 14th in the same category (1.88), while freshman defender Stephanie Peragallo sits 26th (1.70) ...... Sullivan is also second in ground balls per game (3.60) ... as a team the Irish are tied for 14th in scoring offense with 13.70 goals per game and 10th in scoring defense, allowing only 7.80 goals per game ... the scoring margin of 5.90 goals per game puts ND 10th ... the Irish are also ninth in caused turnovers per game (10.3) and 15th in ground balls per game (18.5).
BIG EAST Stats Watch
Notre Dame is first in the BIG EAST in assists per game (7.40), ground balls per game (18.50), caused turnovers per game (10.30), points per game (21.10), shots on goal per game (23.50) and save percentage (.480) ... individually, Lauren Sullivan and Betsy Mastropieri are tied for first in game-winning goals (3) and Barbara Sullivan is first in ground balls per game (3.60) ... the Irish have three players in the top five in caused turnovers per game ... B. Sullivan (2nd - 2.00), Smith (3rd - 1.90) and Peragallo (5th - 1.70).
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 8 deBeer Media Poll, six Irish opponents show up in the rankings - No. 2 Northwestern, No. 6 Syracuse, No. 8 Georgetown, No. 18 Connecticut, No. 19 Stanford and No. 20 Loyola ... Rutgers, Ohio state and Louisville are all receiving votes.
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."