May 8, 2016
By Leigh Torbin
For the second time in three years, the Notre Dame women's lacrosse team will play host to its NCAA regional but, unlike in 2014, the Irish won't be playing at Arlotta Stadium in the opening round. The Irish earned the No. 6 seed on Sunday night and with it a first round bye into the second round.
Notre Dame (13-6) will play host to a first-round matchup at 7 p.m. on Friday between Northwestern (10-9) and Louisville (12-5) with the winner to take on Notre Dame at 2 p.m. on Sunday for a trip to the NCAA quarterfinals. ]
The Irish are 5-1 all-time in home NCAA tournament games and will be hosting for the sixth time in school history. Every year in which the Irish have advanced to the NCAA's quarterfinal round (most recently happening in 2009), the team's "sweet 16" game has been played (and won) at home.
There is ample familiarity in 2016 (let alone historically) between the three regional rivals who will compete at Arlotta Stadium this weekend. Notre Dame split two meetings this year with the Cardinals, most recently downing Louisville, 12-10, on April 28 in the ACC quarterfinals at Virginia Tech. Northwestern beat Notre Dame, 17-12, on April 10 in Evanston, Illinois. Louisville beat Northwestern, 10-4, on March 3 at UofL Lacrosse Stadium.
The winner of the Notre Dame regional will face off in the quarterfinals against the winner of the regional being played at No. 3-seed North Carolina that also features Duke and Loyola (Maryland). The NCAA semifinals and final will be contested over Memorial Day weekend at Talen Energy Stadium (formerly PPL Park) in Chester, Pennsylvania.
The Irish have been enjoying one of the finest seasons in school history in 2016 with its 13 wins to date tying for the third-most for an entire season in school history. The balanced veteran-heavy Irish lead the nation in caused turnovers while ranking seventh nationally in scoring offense. Earlier this spring, Notre Dame reached No. 4 in the weekly coaches and media polls - its highest national standing since 2004.
Leigh Torbin, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2013 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women's lacrosse team while serving as the football publicity team's top lieutenant. A native of Framingham, Massachusetts, Torbin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1998 with a bachelor's degree in sports management. He has previously worked full-time on the athletic communications staffs at Vanderbilt, Florida, Connecticut and UCF.