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Irish remain undefeated

Matt Puglisi | Monday, April 5, 2004

Make it eight.Attack/midfield Meredith Simon netted her third straight four-goal game and defender Kassen Delano turned in a hat trick with all three of her scores coming in the contest’s final 25 minutes as No. 3 Notre Dame tallied its eight straight win this season. The Irish exploded for nine second-half goals to defeat a struggling Connecticut (3-6, 0-2 in the Big East) squad 14-8 in Storrs, Conn., Saturday.The victory extends Notre Dame’s winning streak to a school-record 12 games and leaves the Irish with a perfect 8-0 start to the season, including a 3-0 mark in conference play.”I was happy [with the team’s play],” head coach Tracy Coyne said. “There was a lot of adversity. The game was pushed up to 7:00 p.m., we were playing under the lights on their turf, it was really cold and wet, and I was just happy to leave with a win.”In a see-saw first half that included five lead changes, midfield Meghan Murphy struck first for the Irish 51 seconds after the opening whistle to give the Irish a temporary 1-0 advantage.After the Huskies picked up a couple of scores to claim the first of a pair of first-half Connecticut leads, attack Abby Owen responded three minutes later to knot the score at 2-2 and Simon found the back of the net 90 seconds after Owen to provide Notre Dame a 3-2 lead with 19:21 left in the half.The Irish and Huskies continued to trade goals for the remainder of the half as a pair of Connecticut tallies left the Irish down 4-3 before midfield/defender Andrea Kinnik, and Simon beat Huskie goalkeeper Jennifer Wong to restore a 5-4 Irish lead.A Huskie goal by Tracy Mullaney – her third of the half – with 47 seconds left evened the score at 5-5 heading into half time.”We switched some defensive match ups [at halftime],” Coyne said. “We just needed to change our offense because they were playing a zone – we had to play a different offensive strategy against that, and I thought we handled it pretty well.”Playing more like the squad that has run off victories over four teams currently ranked in the nation’s top 20, including wins over then No. 2 Duke and No. 6 James Madison, the Irish netted the first three goals of the second half and eight of the next ten to turn the one-time nail bitter into yet another solid Irish victory.Delano kicked off the Irish second half run with a goal 4:34 into the period and attack Jackie Bowers and Simon quickly followed suit to boost the lead to 8-5.Although a Huskie tally 1:50 later brought the underdogs within two at 8-6 Irish, it would be as close as Connecticut would get.Midfield/attack Crysti Foote and attack Kristen Gaudreau delivered to bump the advantage to four goals with Gaudreau’s goal coming with 14:45 remaining.Connecticut’s Kristen Link kept the Huskies in the game on a free position goal with 13:39 left, but the hosts were ultimately unable to overcome Irish stalling tactics as Notre Dame managed to keep the Huskies off the board for the next 12:41.Attack Lauren Fischer broke Notre Dame’s own 12:01 scoring drought with just under three minutes left and Delano posted her second and third goals within the next two minutes to put the game away.”Connecticut always plays us tough,” Coyne said. “We were up against a lot and we knew that they were going to come out and give us a very competitive game. We want to be in those types of situations because I think it will only make us better in the long run.”