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Laxers go 2-1 over break

Joe Meixell | Tuesday, March 20, 2007

No. 6 Notre Dame (5-2) won two crucial away matches over spring break but dropped its Big East opener Sunday against No. 11 Syracuse (4-3) 16-13.The Irish played from behind most of the game Sunday, as the Orange took a 4-0 lead early in the first half. Senior Meghan Murphy helped Notre Dame back into the game, scoring twice on a run that cut the deficit to 5-4. Sophomore Jillian Byers tied the match at six with two goals, but Syracuse countered to take a 7-6 lead into halftime.The game remained close in a back and forth second half with the game tied at 13 and just over 10 minutes remaining. But the Irish were shut out down the stretch while the Orange rallied off three straight goals for the win.”We knew it would be a very competitive game,” Irish coach Tracy Coyne said. “It was a must-win game for them and they came through at the finish.”The Irish were led by junior Caitlin McKinney, who tallied four goals and two assists in the losing effort. Murphy and Byers also contributed strong performances with three goals each.Syracuse received huge offensive contributions from senior Ashley Pike with five goals and junior Bridget Looney with four. The Orange out-shot the Irish 37-24 on the afternoon.Coyne said that the Irish will use the loss to help improve. “This game exposed things we can improve on and will fine-tune before our next few games,” she said.In Notre Dame’s first game of the break, the Irish routed Canisius 18-8 on the road. After the Griffins came out to a surprising start, the Irish countered with a nine-goal spurt that put the game out of reach.Byers and McKinney, both pre-season All-league selections, continued their hot starts in Buffalo. Byers scored six goals and added two assists, and McKinney contributed three goals and three assists. With the eight points on the game, Byers became the fastest Notre Dame player to reach the 100-point mark for her career, breaking the record set last year by McKinney.The second game of the break let the Irish enjoy spring break in Florida before a game against No. 18 Yale. Sophomore Erin Goodman had a strong performance in goal, collecting 14 saves in the 9-7 Notre Dame win.The Irish led 3-2 after a low-scoring first half, and the game remained close until the finish. Goodman’s 11 second-half saves were key in the win. McKinney led the way once again, this time with three goals and an assist.”The Yale game was just a complete team effort, and our best defensive game all season,” Coyne said. Next up for the Irish is a home match against Ohio State on Wednesday. The Buckeyes are 3-1 after an 8-4 win over Davidson on Sunday.