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Irish to challenge top teams

Matt Puglisi | Friday, March 5, 2004

The women’s lacrosse team hopes to build on a quick start when No. 12 Notre Dame (2-0) welcomes No. 19 Cornell to the Loftus Sports Center Sunday at 12 p.m.The Big Red (0-1) will be the second in a string of four consecutive ranked opponents for the Irish.”[Cornell] is a big game on our schedule,” head coach Tracy Coyne said. “They’re athletic and well-coached, and we’re expecting it to be a good game.”Following the contest, the Irish will travel to Orlando, Fla., to challenge No. 2 Duke on Wednesday before facing off against No. 8 James Madison next Sunday.”Duke is going to be loaded with blue chippers, and it’s a team we look forward to playing because we know we’re going to be tested by one of the best teams,” Coyne said. “If we want to be at that level, we have to be able to beat a team like Duke.”While the Blue Devils (2-0) are currently ranked 17 spots ahead of the Big Red, Coyne doesn’t believe the Irish will have to worry about looking past a lower-ranked Cornell squad.”We’re absolutely not looking past Cornell,” Coyne said. “We were embarrassed by them last year. I just don’t think anyone [returning from last year] is thinking about any other game than that one.”On Sunday, the Irish had no trouble polishing off No. 17 Stanford and gaining a little vengeance in the process.Eleven months after the Cardinal topped the Irish in a 14-13 double overtime heartbreaker, the Irish ran all over them, jumping out to a 6-0 lead midway through the first half. By the time the final whistle sounded, four Irish players had at least a pair of goals – including four tallies from both senior middie/attack Meredith Simon and senior middie Abby Owen – and Notre Dame had trounced its way to a 16-5 victory.The Irish survived a scare just two days earlier on Feb. 27 from the University of California at Berkeley in the season opener.After building commanding leads of 5-1 and 8-2, the Golden Bears shocked the Irish by reeling off seven straight scores to take a 9-8 lead with less than nine minutes left in the contest.Although Owen and Simon were each able to find the back of the net on free position shots to regain the lead with 4:21 remaining, the Bears weren’t done. Cardinal Leanne Zilioli scored on a last-ditch free position shot with five seconds left to tie the score and force overtime.But Owen was up to the challenge. The senior scored both Irish goals in the extra period, and Notre Dame was able to hold on for a dramatic 12-11 victory.”The California game didn’t go exactly as we expected it to go, but we did what we had to do to win,” Coyne said. “Good teams find a way to win.””At different points, somebody had to do something in order to put us in the position to win in the end.”