May 7, 2017
By Megan Golden
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- The University of Notre Dame women's lacrosse team will be dancing in May for the sixth straight season as the Irish will face Cornell in the first round of the NCAA Championships at 7 p.m. ET on Friday at Princeton.
Notre Dame (11-7) and Cornell (12-5) will match up for the first time since the Irish defeated the Big Red, 17-13, on March 17, 2012. The Irish are 7-4 in program history against Cornell, including a 1-0 neutral site record. Should the Irish advance to the second round, they would face No. 5 seed Princeton (14-3) in a rematch of top-20 foes just months after falling to the Tigers on the road earlier this season.
The only previous postseason meeting between Notre Dame and Cornell came in 2006, when the Irish rolled past the Big Red, 16-8, on the way to the Final Four in Boston.
"I don't know much about Cornell, and obviously, in the next 24 hours I'll learn a lot more about them," Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny said. "I actually watched the Syracuse vs. Cornell game as a casual fan and was impressed with Cornell's speed, was impressed with their defense. I thought they had strong transition play, and they have some lethal scoring ability.
"I've always been impressed with what Coach [Jenny] Graap has done with her lacrosse program. She's been there a long time, they're very well-coached, and they're very smart student-athletes. You're seeing a similar athlete to what we have at Notre Dame -- very academic, smart, keen, high IQ and strong athletes."
Notre Dame, which will play away from Arlotta Stadium for the second time in four years, makes its 12th trip to the NCAA Championships and will look to build off of a 7-11 all-time record in the tournament. Notre Dame has gone to the tournament six times (3-5) in as many seasons under Halfpenny.
"This year just shows how hard it is to get there," Halfpenny said. "The team's reaction was awesome to watch -- jumping up out of their seats excited. That's something so cool. It's six in a row, but to see each different team's reaction to getting that opportunity is really neat. There are 26 teams left that get another day together. To see that gratitude this team specifically had was really cool. I love this team to death.
"The credit goes to all of my staff for all of their hard work to keep us going, keep us focused. My team -- the players get all the credit in the world. They've sacrificed a great amount to make six consecutive runs."
The Irish are coming off a 2016 trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals and have advanced at least to the second round in each of the past three seasons. Last year, Notre Dame received a first-round bye and subsequently topped Northwestern, 15-3, in the "Sweet 16." The Irish fell to North Carolina, 10-6, in the Quarterfinals.
The Irish finished the regular season 11-7, highlighted by a 16-7 victory over then-No. 4 Syracuse at the Carrier Dome. Notre Dame matched the program's best record in Atlantic Coast Conference play, going 4-3 in the regular season. Notre Dame leads the conference in ground balls and caused turnovers per game.
For a closer, behind-the-scenes look at the Irish women's lacrosse program, follow @NDWomensLax on Twitter and ndwlax on Snapchat.
Megan Golden, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since August of 2016. In her role, she coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women's lacrosse and cross country/track and field programs. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Golden is a 2014 graduate of Saint Mary's College and former Irish women's basketball manager. Prior to arriving at Notre Dame, she worked in public relations with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox.