May 2, 2012
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Coming off one of the best regular seasons in school history, the No. 6 Notre Dame women's lacrosse team heads to Syracuse, N.Y., this week as the No. 3 seed in the BIG EAST Championship.
The Irish (13-3, 6-2 BE) open play in the semifinals against No. 2 seed Loyola (Md.) at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in Syracuse University's Carrier Dome. The game will be broadcast nationally on CBS Sports Network. Additionally, fans can follow the game via live stats or through the twitter handle @bigeastchamps. Links for live stats and post-game videos are available on UND.com.
The winner of the contest between the Irish and Greyhounds will meet the winner of the matchup between No. 1 seed Syracuse and No. 4 seed Georgetown. The finals are scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday on CBS Sports Network.
Notre Dame has been part of every BIG EAST Tournament, with the first taking place in 2007. The Irish won their only title in 2009 as a No. 3 seed on the strength of goalie Erin Goodman, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament. The Irish also reached the finals last year, where they lost to the third-seeded Greyhounds, 12-10.
The meeting will be the second of the season for the two squads, as the Greyhounds bested the Irish, 17-11, in Baltimore on April 1. The loss was the first for the Irish on the season. Notre Dame trailed 9-8 just minutes into the second half, but Loyola put the game away with eight goals in just under 13 minutes. Senior Maggie Tamasitis scored a goal and dished out five assists, while junior Jaimie Morrison and freshman Caitlin Gargan added three goals each.
NOTRE DAME AND THE BIG EAST CHAMPIONSHIP
Since the BIG EAST Conference began hosting a conference championship following the 2007 regular season, Notre Dame is one of three teams to have qualified for the event each of those years along with Syracuse and Georgetown.
The Irish hold a record of 3-4 during that span, including winning their lone conference title in 2009 with a 12-10 victory over Georgetown in the championship contest. That year, Notre Dame also entered the tournament as the No. 3 seed. This will mark the third time that the Irish enter as the tournament's No. 3 seed, with the team holding a 2-1 record in those matches (2-0 in '09; 0-1 in '10).
LET'S HEAR IT FOR THE SENIORS!
Saturday's matchup with Cincinnati not only served as the regular season finale for the Irish, it also represented Senior Day for Notre Dame's eight-member senior class. The octet, comprised of Kristin DeRespiris, Kelly Driscoll, Brittany Mallory, Flannery Nangle, Kate Newall, Jordy Shoemaker, Megan Sullivan and Maggie Tamasitis, has accounted for 54 goals and 66 assists on the season, while four of the eight - Tamasitis, M. Sullivan, Newall, Shoemaker - have started all 16 contests this season.
A FORMIDABLE ONE-TWO PUNCH
Notre Dame attackers Lindsay Powell and Jaimie Morrison have become quite proficient at finding the back of the net this season as the two have combined for 78 goals on 159 shots. Powell leads the team with 44 goals, and has scored two or more goals in 13 of the 16 games this year. Morrison, who is second on the team with 34 goals, scored four goals in consecutive games against Connecticut and No. 18 Vanderbilt and has 11 games with two or more goals. In the BIG EAST, Powell sits fourth in goals per game (2.75) and overall goals.
Senior Megan Sullivan (21 GB, 27 DC, 14 CT), sophomore Margaret Smith (33 GB, 44 DC, 29 CT) and freshman Barbara Sullivan (36 GB, 27 DC, 28 CT) have all been especially impressive on defense this season as they are the only three players on the team to rack up 10 or more ground balls, draw controls and caused turnovers this season. Smith is third in the BIG EAST in caused turnovers per game (1.93).
CHAMPIONSHIP ADDITION TO THE TEAM
Notre Dame received a welcome addition to the team in the week leading up to the Connecticut game as Irish women's basketball standout Brittany Mallory joined the women's lacrosse team. Mallory, who started all 39 games for the Irish women's basketball squad this past season and ranked eighth in the BIG EAST in steals per game (2.1), was a two-time U.S. Lacrosse honorable mention All-American in high school and will wear No. 32 for the Irish women's lacrosse team.
On the basketball court, Mallory was known as a talented leader who displayed a strong will to win along with an impressive three-point shot.
Mallory grew up in the lacrosse hotbed of Baltimore, Md., and played the sport for her first three years of high school, where she racked up all sorts of accolades. The midfielder led McDonogh School to the IAAM A Conference championship game in 2006 and was a two-time IAAM A Conference All-Star and all-metro/all-county selection in addition to the pair of All-America scrolls. In 2006 she was named to the high school All-Tewaaraton Team, which recognizes some of the nation's top talent.
In her first game in over five years, Mallory scooped up a draw control in Notre Dame's 16-9 victory over the Huskies. Most recently, Mallory fired home her first collegiate goal in a 22-2 trouncing of Cincinnati to end the regular season.
THAT'S JUST OFFENSIVE:
The Irish have found the back of the net in great numbers this season. Averaging 14.06 goals a game, Notre Dame is racing past offensive numbers from previous seasons. The only teams since 2004 that averaged more goals through 15 games were the `06 (14.69) and `09 (16.08) squads.
Nine players have scored 10 or more goals this season. Lindsay Powell (44), Jaimie Morrison (34), Megan Sullivan (23), Maggie Tamasitis (20), Kaitlyn Brosco (20), Jenny Granger (18), Lauren Sullivan (12), Caitlin Gargan (10) and Margaret Smith (10) have broken the double-digit goal plateau, while McKenzie Brown (8) and Betsy Mastropieri (8) are within two goals or less of reaching the 10-goal mark.
The Irish have become especially adept at scoring a high number of goals on a limited number of shots as evidenced by a shooting percentage of .477.
HOW CAN I SERVE YOU?:
Having already secured her place in school history after leading the team in assists as a sophomore and junior, senior co-captain Maggie Tamasitis has gone above and beyond so far this season in helping her teammates score goals. The Boyertown, Pa., has notched 56 helpers through 16 games this season. With postseason play still remaining, Tamasitis has already set a new school standard for assists in a season with 56, which broke her old record of 46 that she set last season. She was also in the top three in the nation in both assists (2nd, 56) and assists per game (3rd, 3.50) when the NCAA stats were updated last on April 29. Against Connecticut she set a new school and BIG EAST record with eight assists. The eight helpers also put her into a tie for sixth all-time in NCAA Division I history for assists in a game.
IRISH PLAYERS RECOGNIZED BY CONFERENCE
Now fully entrenched in BIG EAST season, the University of Notre Dame women's lacrosse players have been recognized several times by the BIG EAST Conference for their stellar play on the field. Two players - Maggie Tamasitis and Ellie Hilling - have been named BIG EAST Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week, respectively, while Tamasitis (three times), Jaimie Morrison (once), Margaret Smith (three times), Hilling (once), Lindsay Powell (once), Megan Sullivan (once) and Barbara Sullivan (once) have found themselves on the weekly honor roll.
In addition to conference recognition, Tamasitis also was billed as the WomensLax.com National Player of the Week after her one-goal, six-assist performance in the season opener against Stanford.
HILLING PROTECTING THE CAGE
Junior goalkeeper Ellie Hilling finds herself in top company in the BIG EAST Conference, currently leading the league in saves per game (8.87), ranking second in save percentage (.462) and sitting fourth in goals against average (10.78).
Hilling took home the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week award (March 5) after her career-high 16 save and career-high tying six ground ball performance in an upset of then-No. 10 Ohio State. The award was Hilling's third such honor being handed down from the BIG EAST. She later earned BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll recognition after putting together a week that saw her record 29 total saves in wins against Vanderbilt (12-11) and Georgetown (7-6).
This season the backstop has already seen her climb up the Irish record books get underway, now placing fourth all-time in saves (395), second in wins (33) and third in total minutes played (3,087:06).
Hilling found herself between the pipes last year in over 96% of the possible game minutes she could have played. While in net, Hilling led the Irish to a 10-9 record, allowing 9.67 goals per game.
Hilling burst on to the scene in her freshman campaign (2010) where she led the team to an 11-7 record while stopping 131 shots in over 1,110 minutes of action including registering the only shutout of her career and the first in BIG EAST conference history in a win over Villanova (4/9/2010).
SMITH ALL OVER THE FIELD
Sophomore midfield Margaret Smith has wasted little time showing her versatility in the Irish lineup. The Westminster, Md., product has registered 10 goals on the current season, while leading the team in draw controls (44) and caused turnovers (29).
Smith has three times been named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor roll this season for standout performances against Duquesne in the second game of the season (3 G, 3 GB, 5 DC, 2 CT) and against Boston University (1 G, 1 A, 4 GB, 5 DC, 6 CT). Her third such honor came on the heels of a 1-1 BIG EAST weekend in which she scored three goals along with bringing down 10 draw controls and causing four turnovers.
ASSAULT ON THE RECORD BOOK
Leading the Irish attack is senior tri-captain, Maggie Tamasitis. With her stellar performance so far this season (20 goals, 56 assists, 76 points) combined with her play in her first three seasons on campus, Tamasitis is climbing the Irish record books in many statistical categories including goals (74), points (222, t-4th) and games played (74, t-5th). Additionally, Tamasitis moved into first all-time in assists with her 107th career helper during the Boston University victory (14-11). She currently has 148 career assists.
After improving to 8-0 this season with a 13-12 overtime win over Rutgers, the Irish were one of only two undefeated teams remaining on the Division I level. Only the Northwestern Wildcats joined Notre Dame as an unbeaten heading into the month of April.
With Notre Dame's 8-0 start to the season, head coach Christine Halfpenny became the first coach in BIG EAST history to lead their team to an 8-0 start in their first year with a program. The record not only includes head coaches from BIG EAST teams since the league was formed in 2001, but the entire program history for every team that currently resides in the conference.
Notre Dame's impressive 8-0 start also put the Irish in elite company among the all-time great BIG EAST teams. Only 2011 Loyola (13-0) and 2004 Notre Dame (10-0) have started out with better records to open the year since the league was formed. Loyola went on to win the BIG EAST Tournament title last year, while the 2004 Notre Dame squad lost in the first round of the NCAA Tournament to Northwestern. The BIG EAST did not have a conference tournament in 2004.
TAMASITIS ON TEWAARATON RADAR
Senior attacker Maggie Tamasitis continues to garner recognition heading into her final campaign with the Irish. The Boyertown, Pa., native was recently named one of 25 women's lacrosse players that are 2012 Tewaaraton Award Nominees. This group of 25 nominees, which includes players from 17 schools and five players from BIG EAST institutions, will be pared to a final five who will move on as finalists come seasons end. Prior to Tamasitis, six Irish players have been named nominees over the programs history, with Jillian Byers representing the only two-time recipient. Here is a listing of all the past Irish nominees:
2011 Maggie Tamasitis
2009 Shaylyn Blaney
2009 Jillian Byers**
2008 Jillian Byers
2008 Caitlin McKinney
2006 Crysti Foote**
2004 Meredith Simon
** - named Tewaaraton Trophy Finalist
A (HALF)PENNY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS
The 2012 season marks a new era in Notre Dame women's lacrosse, as Christine Halfpenny takes the reigns as just the second head coach in program history since the team earned varsity status back in 1997. The former standout for the Virginia Tech Hokies lacrosse team comes to the Irish after a five-year stint as head coach at William & Mary where she compiled 43 victories, including reaching double-digit wins in each of her final four seasons. Additionally, her teams garnered the Colonial Athletic Association regular-season league title in both '08 and '09, while she copped CAA Coach-of-the-Year honors in '08.
While team success has been noticed under Halfpenny's watch, her players' individual successes have also been abundant. During her stay with the Tribe, she saw two players tabbed IWLCA All-Americans, while helping 26 to all-conference citations and 10 to all-region honors. Her 2011 campaign also saw history made, as William & Mary captured player of the year, defensive player of the year and rookie of the year, marking the first time in CAA history that one school claimed all three top honors in the same season.
TRI-CAPTAINS TO LEAD IRISH
The triumvirate of midfielders Jordy Shoemaker and Megan Sullivan and attacker Maggie Tamasitis have been selected as the Notre Dame women's lacrosse captains for the 2012 campaign. Updated through the Cincinnati contest, the three captains have played in a combined 211 games, helped their team to 51 wins, scored 133 goals and added 165 assists in their careers.
NOTRE DAME'S GOLDEN GIRLS
Joining the fold for the Irish this season are a pair of touted freshmen: goalkeeper Allie Murray (Exton, Pa.) and defender Barbara Sullivan (Garden City, N.Y.), who gained invaluable experience during the summer of 2011 as members of the U.S. U-19 squad at the Women's Lacrosse World Championship. In addition to helping the U.S. win the crown for the fourth consecutive year, Sullivan anchored a stingy American defense that allowed a championship-best 5.38 goals per game and Murray appeared in six of eight contests, recording one win along with 20 saves.
PROTECT THIS HOUSE
Since Arlotta Stadium opened its doors on March 7, 2010, the Irish women's lacrosse team has found a growing comfort in their new confines. After starting with a pair of losses to open the new building, Notre Dame has proceeded to capture wins in 12 of its next 14 home jaunts. Here is a year-by-year breakdown of the Irish at Arlotta Stadium:
Year Record Percentage
2010 4-2 .667
2011 4-1 .800
2012 5-1 .833
Career 13-4 .765
The Notre Dame women's lacrosse program has a long history of sisters playing for the blue and gold. This season is no different as Notre Dame senior midfielder Megan Sullivan (Winchester, Mass.) and her younger sister, Lauren Sullivan, a sophomore on this year's roster, are the ninth set of siblings to play for the Irish `Laxers'. The Sullivan's join eight other sister duos to play at Notre Dame - Maggie `10 and Lena Zentgraf `07, twin sisters Heather and Lindsey Ferguson `08; Julie `08 and Crysti Foote `06; Lauren `09 and Meghan deMello `06; Kelly and Kristen Gaudreau `04; Carol `06 and Angela Dixon `03 and Annemarie `09 and Mary McGrath `06. The sisters who started the tradition are Amy `98 and Mara Grace `98. They played in 1997 and 1998, the first two years of the program.
Notre Dame's 16-9 win over Connecticut on April 14 gave the Irish their 10th win of the season, marking the seventh consecutive 10-win season for the program and 10th in school history. Over the last seven seasons, the Irish are 87-41 (.680).
BIG EAST ANNOUNCES PRESEASON RANKINGS, AWARDS
Despite losing over 415 goals and 140 assists to graduation, the Irish were picked to finish fourth in the BIG EAST Preseason Coaches' Poll due in large part to their two preseason All-BIG EAST team selections, midfielder Kaitlyn Brosco and attacker Maggie Tamasitis.