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ND Women’s Lacrosse: ND finish season with RU

Michael Bryan | Friday, April 20, 2007

The Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team will attempt to give its seniors a final home victory as they finish the regular season Saturday against No. 18 Rutgers.

For the Irish, currently in a three-way tie for first in the Big East with Georgetown and Syracuse, the game will determine the team’s final standing in the conference, as well as seeding for the inaugural Big East tournament.

With a Notre Dame win and Syracuse loss against Loyola, the Irish would win the regular season Big East title and capture the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament. If all three teams win Saturday, the tiebreaker will be determined by each team’s goal differential in Big East play. A loss against the Scarlet Knights would likely drop Notre Dame to the No. 4 seed.

Despite the importance of the Syracuse and Georgetown games this the weekend, Irish coach Tracy Coyne said her team will be focused only on a victory over Rutgers.

“It’s a must-win game for us, and before we start thinking about anyone else or tiebreakers, we need to just win our game,” Coyne said.

Rutgers enters the match with an 11-3 record, having lost only to ranked teams Georgetown, Syracuse and Princeton. Despite their impressive record, the Scarlet Knights will be looking for their first big win of the season against the Irish.

Defensively, Notre Dame will focus on Rutgers All-American Katie Batiuk. The senior leads the Big East in points with 39 goals and 23 assists. Kate Shomo, Nina Frankowski and Michelle Poole also lead the Scarlet Knights offense, each tallying more than 24 goals on the year.

The Irish will look to send their seniors out with a victory in the final home game of their careers. Coyne said seniors Meaghan Fitzpatrick, Lena Zentgraf, Kaki Orr, Meghan Murphy and Kristin Hopson have been integral to Notre Dame’s success.

“The seniors have done an amazing job, and have been outstanding leaders,” Coyne said. “At the same time, though, they’re still looking to do some things to establish themselves and leave a legacy.”

Zentgraf, Orr and Murphy have made huge contributions offensively to a balanced scoring attack. Orr and Zentgraf have been excellent in draw control for the Irish, and Murphy has 18 goals and 16 assists on the year.

Hopson and Fitzpatrick have led the team defensively all season, often matching up with opponents’ toughest players. The duo has helped the Irish become one of the best defensive squads in the Big East.

The senior class will look to build on its legacy in the coming weeks, with one of the team’s main goals being a championship in the first-ever Big East tournament. In addition, with an NCAA Tournament berth, the senior class would make its third tournament appearance – the most ever by a Notre Dame class.