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Irish face No. 1 Princeton

Matt Mooney | Friday, February 20, 2004

One way to gauge a team heading into a new season is by comparing them to the best.

The Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team will do just that as they continue their preseason play by traveling to New Jersey this weekend. There, the team will participate in the Princeton Invitational where the No. 17 Irish will meet the preseason No. 1 and two-time defending national champion Princeton Tigers.

The match against Princeton follows Notre Dame’s 17-9 exhibition victory over Team Canada last weekend. Notre Dame dominated the team’s first preseason match of the spring, jumping out to a 12-4 halftime lead and never looking back.

Princeton, however, will be a much different team than Team Canada. Against the Tigers, the Irish will face one of the lacrosse giants of the northeast. However, junior attack Jackie Bowers feels that experience against the nation’s premier lacrosse school will serve as a measuring stick for her team.

“We have nothing to lose,” Bowers said. “They’re the champions the past two years and that’s the level we want to be at. If we don’t do as well, that will show what we have to work on to reach that [level].”

The lacrosse team can expect a similar caliber opponent once the regular season begins. Notre Dame’s schedule is chock full of ranked teams, with nine teams appearing in the preseason top 25. Four of those nine are in the top 10, including Big East rival No. 6 Georgetown.

“A lot of people don’t know how good we are with most of the top teams being out on the East Coast,” Bowers said. “Our expectations are to prove to other top 10 teams that we are a force to reckon with.”

Bowers feels that some teammates have a lot to prove individually.

“We have a lot of older players who haven’t been given the opportunity to really contribute and they’ve waited a long time for that,” she said. “A couple juniors have been in the program for three years and their turn is finally up to show everyone what they have.”

Some of the newcomers also have to step into roles.

“We do have a couple freshmen we’ll look to have contribute, mostly [midfielder] Megan Murphy, she’s been playing very well,” Bowers said.

Notre Dame will kick off their regular season a week later on Feb. 27 when they battle California.