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Laxers prepare for home tilt versus Georgetown

Michael Bryan | Friday, April 13, 2007

No. 11 Notre Dame will look for a crucial win Saturday, facing off against Big East foe Georgetown.The Irish (10-3) will conclude their five-game home stand against the No. 11 Hoyas (7-5) at 1 p.m. Georgetown sits atop the Big East standings with a 3-0 record, and Notre Dame stands tied for second at 2-1.Georgetown, ranked third in the preseason, has played an up and down season against an incredibly tough schedule. While the Hoyas have impressive wins against ranked conference opponents Rutgers and Syracuse, the team has dropped five games, including three of its last four. All five of Georgetown’s losses have come to opponents ranked in the top-12 nationally.For Notre Dame, the game against the conference leader is critical if the Irish want to remain in contention for the Big East regular season title. A win against the Hoyas would vault the Irish into first place, while a loss would effectively end any hopes of a regular season championship and the No. 1 seed in the inaugural Big East Tournament.Offensively, the Hoyas are led by senior Coco Stanwick, currently second in the conference in points with 40 goals and 18 assists. Seniors Brittany Baschuk and Schuyler Sutton also have 22 and 20 goals, respectively.Irish coach Tracy Coyne said the team hopes to contain Stanwick, but doesn’t expect to completely stop the Georgetown star. “You know Coco will get her goals,” Coyne said. “But we feel confident we can handle and contain her defensively, and I have a lot of confidence in Kaki Orr against her in draw control.”Georgetown’s strength this season, however, has been in its defense. The Hoyas are giving up an average of only nine goals per game – best in the conference.Notre Dame will look to continue two recent trends that have led to wins – smothering defense and a balanced offensive attack. In the Irish wins this season, the team has given up an average of 7.3 goals per game, while giving up totals of 20, 16 and 18 in the three losses.While sophomore Jillian Byers and junior Caitlin McKinney have been Notre Dame’s top scorers all season, the emergence of a complete offensive attack has been a key to Notre Dame winning five of their last six. Sophomore Jane Stoeckert and senior Meghan Murphy have each led the Irish in points in recent games, and seniors Orr and Lena Zentgraf have each made significant contributions as well. “I’ve been excited to see so many players stepping up,” Coyne said. “Mary Carpenter had a career high in goals last game, and Meghan, Lena and Jane have been excellent – it’s been great and huge to our success.”The Georgetown game starts a tough schedule leading up to the Big East tournament for the Irish. Notre Dame will face No. 15 Vanderbilt on the road and conclude the regular season against No. 18 Rutgers.The Irish, however, look forward to these challenges. “I’m psyched to play three ranked teams, especially with the rivalries,” Coyne said. “It gives us good mental preparation without any easy games, and we want to end the season on a positive note.”