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Irish drop first round game against Hoyas

Michael Bryan | Monday, April 30, 2007

The first-ever Big East championship was one No. 12 Notre Dame would rather forget. The fourth-seeded Irish dropped their third-straight match Friday, a furious comeback ending just short in a 12-10 loss to No. 1 seed Georgetown in the semifinals.

The Irish, who had defeated the Hoyas at home during the regular season 13-8, fell behind early in the first half when Georgetown scored the first four goals. The Irish gained some ground midway through the first half with goals by junior Caitlin McKinney and sophomore Jane Stoeckert,

The Hoyas countered quickly however, when senior captain Coco Stanwick scored two goals for a 6-2 lead. Sophomore Mary Carpenter and McKinney responded with two more goals for the Irish, but Stanwick scored her fifth goal of the half to give Georgetown a 7-4 lead at the break.

Less than a minute into the second half, sophomore Jillian Byers netted an unassisted goal to cut the Hoyas lead to two. Georgetown then stormed out on a 4-0 run, to take a commanding 11-5 lead with less than 15 minutes remaining in the game.

“Our backs were against the wall, and we had the choice to lie down or play, and we stepped it up and started to compete in the second half,” Irish coach Tracy Coyne said. “When we started to play aggressively, we got back into the game.”

Notre Dame would not go quietly though, as McKinney and Byers scored consecutive goals to cut the lead to 11-7. Stanwick’s sixth goal of the game for the Hoyas looked to put the game out of reach for the Irish with just over five minutes left, but Notre Dame continued to play aggressively.

The Irish scored three times in the next four minutes, with two more goals from McKinney and another from Byers. After winning the draw control after the goal, Byers’s shot was stopped by Georgetown goalkeeper Maggie Koch and the Hoyas ran out the clock for the victory.

“We came here to win a Big East championship and didn’t get it done,” Coyne said. “I thought we played very tentatively in the first half, but in the second half we were more aggressive and got back in the game.”

Stanwick, the Big East player of the year, led the Hoyas with six goals on all six shots and an assist. Junior Schuyler Sutton also tallied two goals for Georgetown.

The Irish were led offensively by McKinney’s five goals, and Byers added three goals of her own. Despite the loss, Notre Dame held the advantage over the Hoyas in shots, groundballs, draw controls and turnovers on the game.

“The whole time, our team had faith that we could come back,” McKinney said. “We responded late and fought back, we just started too late.”

The Hoyas advanced to face off against second-seeded Syracuse in the finals. The Orange, who defeated Rutgers to reach the championship game, dispatched Georgetown 12-7 to capture the inaugural Big East championship.