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Women’s Lacrosse: Team travels to NY for break in schedule

Michael Bryan | Friday, March 9, 2007

No. 5 Notre Dame will continue its stretch of away games in the Northeast Saturday, facing off against Canisius in Buffalo, N.Y.

After starting out the season with four games against ranked opponents, the Irish will travel to face a weaker Griffins team. The match will be the first time Canisius has ever hosted a ranked team.

The Irish started their stretch of away matches on a positive note Sunday, defeating No. 16 Cornell 13-9. Playing in snowy conditions in Ithaca, N.Y., Notre Dame responded to an opening goal by the Big Red with a streak of four consecutive goals to build a 4-1 lead.

The Irish never surrendered that advantage, trading goals to take a 6-3 lead into halftime. Cornell played a more competitive second half, but Notre Dame protected its lead down the stretch to preserve the victory.

The Irish victory over the ranked opponent was even more impressive considering the team’s lack of preparation before the game. Due to weather conditions, Notre Dame did not arrive at Cornell until midnight on game day and had little practice before the match.

The Irish were led by junior Caitlin McKinney, who contributed three goals and three assists. Sophomore Jillian Byers and senior Lena Zentgraf also netted three goals apiece in the effort.

Sophomore Erin Goodman had a brilliant performance in goal for the Irish, with a career-best 14 saves. Goodman recorded 11 saves in the first half, allowing Notre Dame to take a 6-3 advantage.

After strong performances against Northwestern and Cornell last week, Jillian Byers was named Big East offensive player of the week. She had eight points on six goals and two assists.

Byers became the second Irish player to be honored as offensive player of the week this season. McKinney won the honor in the only other week the award was given this season.

“Jillian has really gotten a lot of attention from opposing defenses,” Irish coach Tracy Coyne said. “How she’s been able to broaden her game and still score is a tribute to her talent and hard work.”

Last year the Irish easily dispatched the Canisius at home, defeating the Griffins 18-2. Canisius has improved this year, winning three of its last four games.

Despite Notre Dame’s past dominance of the Griffins, Coyne said the team is not looking past Canisius.

“We’ve been as focused in practice this week as before we played [No. 1] Northwestern,” she said. “I’m confident we’ll be able to focus, go in there and get the job done.”