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Women’s Lacrosse: Irish fall again to Vanderbilt squad

Joe Meixell | Friday, April 18, 2008

For the second straight year, the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team entered its showdown with Vanderbilt with momentum, coming off of a win over Big East rival Georgetown.

And for a second straight year, the Irish walked away on the losing end, this time falling to the Commodores 9-6. It was the lowest offensive output of the year for Notre Dame.

“We weren’t on our game. I don’t know why,” coach Tracy Coyne said. “If I did, I would have fixed it.”

Junior attack Jillian Byers led the Irish in scoring with three goals, two of which came in the second half. However, it would prove to be too little to late for Notre Dame, which fell to 10-5 on the season.

“We just couldn’t find an answer,” said Coyne.

The Irish have very little time, however, to recover from the loss. On Saturday, the Irish will travel to Piscataway, N.J. to take on Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are 2-2 in the Big East Conference and 7-8 overall.

While each game has been important for Notre Dame, this game could have extra significance on the season. The Irish were riding high after a 4-1 road trip that saw them defeat two top ten teams, but the loss to Vanderbilt has taken away considerable momentum. How coach Tracy Coyne’s team responds on Saturday could determine Notre Dame’s fate for the rest of the season. The game will be the final regular season game to take place before the Big East tournament, which will be held at home in Notre Dame, and the Irish are looking to come in on the right foot.

“We want to solidify our number two seed in the [Big East] tournament,” Coyne said.

The game at Rutgers caps off an eventful week for the team. In addition to the numerous awards and honors that each have received already earlier in the season, Byers and senior midfielder Caitlin McKinney have each been selected as nominees for the Tewaarton Award, given annually to the top lacrosse player in the nation. Out of the 18 nominees, 5 will be named finalists later in the year.

As for Saturday’s game, do not expect another slow start from the Irish. Coyne called the game, “a way to get back on track,” and went further.

“We didn’t capitalize on our opportunity [Wednesday],” she said. “But I’m happy we have another chance to go out and be the team that we want to be in 2008.”