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Women’s Lacrosse: Offensive onslaught downs ND

Joe Meixell | Friday, March 2, 2007

Northwestern proved why it is the top ranked team in the nation Thursday, defeating No. 5 Notre Dame 18-10 at the Loftus Center.

The two-time defending national champion Wildcats (2-1) struck early and often, taking a 12-4 lead into the half. The Irish (2-1) were unable to slow down Northwestern’s offensive attack, especially fast-break opportunities.

“Northwestern has a lot of speed in transition,” Irish coach Tracy Coyne said. “They have a lot of offensive threats, and those people capitalized on our defense.”

Notre Dame looked to be gaining momentum late in the second half, scoring three straight goals to decrease the Wildcat lead to 15-9. But Northwestern put together two long possessions that ended in goals that crushed any hope of a comeback.

Offensively, the Irish were hounded by a very fast and determined Wildcat defense. Notre Dame established many opportunities on offense, but it seemed every time the Irish scored and were gaining momentum, the Wildcats responded with quick goals. Northwestern goalie Abby Bangser had several key saves, preventing any hope for an Irish run.

Northwestern senior Kristen Kjellman, last year’s Tewaaraton Trophy winner as the best player in women’s lacrosse, notched a game-high six goals. Sophomore Hilary Bowen also added three goals and three assists in the win.

The Irish were led by sophomore Jillian Byers, who netted three goals. Irish junior Caitlin McKinney and senior Lena Zentgraf also contributed two goals each.

The Wildcats out-shot the Irish 21-11 in the first half, 34-21 for the game.

“When we play a team like Northwestern you have to bring it for sixty minutes,” Coyne said. “Especially defensively, we weren’t ready to go, and we didn’t have twelve people bringing it for sixty minutes.”

The Irish will look to rebound Sunday with a match on the road against No. 16 Cornell (1-1). The Big Red will be looking for revenge from last year’s NCAA Tournament, when Notre Dame eliminated the team in the first round with a 16-8 thumping.

Cornell started its season with a tough 11-10 overtime loss to Rutgers, and quickly recovered with a 19-7 win over Colgate.

“We just have to go into the Cornell game putting this loss behind us,” Coyne said. “We know they’re coming off a loss as well and looking to beat a highly ranked team.”

The Irish will look to stop Cornell junior Courtney Farrell, an All-Ivy League player who led the Big Red in points last year with 52.