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Women’s Lacrosse: Undefeated Wildcats host streaking laxers

Matt Gamber | Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The road swing continues for No. 8 Notre Dame, and it won’t get any easier tomorrow with a match-up at No. 1 Northwestern.

The Irish (9-3, 2-1 Big East) have won the first three games of a five-game road swing, including a 12-8 upset of No. 7 Duke last Thursday. The Wildcats (11-0) boast a slightly more impressive streak, though, as the three-time defending national champions have now won 32 straight.

“We feel confident with our game plan and we’ve been working on it the last couple of days,” coach Tracy Coyne said. “I feel like we’re in a position right now obviously playing to win, and in order to have that happen … we’re not going to completely shut them down, but we need to contain some of their best offensive threats.”

The Irish do have the top scorer in program history on their side, though. Junior attack Jillian Byers scored three goals against Duke to become the most prolific goal-scorer in Notre Dame history, passing 2006 graduate Crysti Foote’s 161 career goals. Byers now has 161 goals in just 48 career games, and she has scored 52 times this season, good for second in the nation.

“We’re in such a focused team mentality that there hasn’t really been any discussion about the record,” Coyne said. “There will be at the end of the season because it’s a great accomplishment and Jill’s worked hard for it, but I think right now our sole focus is to get ourselves into the NCAA Tournament and win the Big East.”

Byers will have some help when the Irish take on the Wildcats. Senior captain Caitlin McKinney has scored a point in 51 consecutive games, a streak that dates back to her freshman year and is the second longest in the country. Her 144 career goals rank her third in Irish history.

Freshman midfielder/attack Shaylyn Blaney has been solid with 28 goals, including four against Duke, while sophomore attack Gina Scioscia leads the Irish with 21 assists.

Notre Dame’s road trip concludes Saturday, when it travels to Washington, D.C., to take on a Big East foe in No. 6 Georgetown (8-3, 2-1 Big East).