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ND WOMEN’S LACROSSE: Irish hit the road for opener against Ohio

Matt Puglisi | Friday, February 25, 2005

Finally, a chance to wash out that bitter taste.After rattling off a program-record ten straight wins to kick off its 2004 campaign, Notre Dame dropped five of its last seven contests, including a first round NCAA tournament heartbreaker to Northwestern that saw the Irish squander leads of 4-0 and 7-3 in an eventual 10-8 loss.While pleased with a season that saw the Irish rise to No. 2 in the national polls, the early exit left coach Tracy Coyne and company feeling they could have achieved even more.”The NCAA game [against Northwestern] – we were winning and then made some costly mistakes at the end,” Coyne said. “It was a great season. We felt proud of a lot of our accomplishments, but I think we felt a little bit of dissatisfaction with our ending.”But after setting Notre Dame records in goals (206) and points (297) last year, the Irish may be hard pressed to replicate the offense that facilitated last season’s success.Gone are the squad’s top three and four of its top five scorers – first team All-American Meredith Simon, third team All-American Abby Owen, Lauren Fischer and Kassen Delano – from a year ago. Together, the five accounted for 128 of 206 (62 percent) Irish goals, with Simon’s 46 tallies contributing to a Notre Dame single season record 74 points.With a number of new faces on offense this year, Coyne plans to alter the team’s approach to complement the current squad’s talents.”Any time you bring in new people [on offense], you’re going to have a different look to your offense,” Coyne said. “We’re tailoring some of our plays and things like that to what the strengths of this team are.”The different approach has worked well thus far, as the Irish wrapped up a 3-0 preseason with a pair of victories last Saturday and Sunday over Dartmouth and Boston University, respectively. After taking care of Team Canada Feb. 11, the Irish knocked off the Big Green 7-6 in frigid Hanover, NH before making the short trip to Boston, where Notre Dame topped the Black Bears 13-10 the following afternoon.”We played outside, and it was 25 degrees, and we played back to back Saturday and Sunday,” Coyne said. “We had a lot of adversity we had to overcome, so I was pretty happy [with the results].”I think [the preseason] pointed out things that are going well and things that need to be improved. It accomplished what you want [the preseason to accomplish] – what you want to get out of it.”After eight months, Notre Dame can take the first step in erasing the displeasure of last season’s abrupt finish when it travels to Athens, Ohio to open the 2005 season against Ohio University on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.The Irish beat the Bobcats, 13-8, last April at Moose Krause Stadium in their most recent meeting.”Last year they gave us a really good game,” Coyne said. “I think we’ve been a team on their schedule that they’re looking to beat so we know that we have to go into that game ready to play an opponent that is going to give us a tough challenge.”Part of that challenge will be shutting down Canadian national team member Dana Dobbie.”Dana is very good,” Coyne said. “She’s a tall and dominating attacker, but they graduated a lot of players, so I think that they’re going to be a different team, also.”We’re going into it slightly blind, but we didn’t know much about Dartmouth or Boston University, either, so I think we can go into the game and adjust accordingly as the game goes on.”