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Women’s Lacrosse: No. 11 Irish face off against No. 1 Wildcats

Meaghan Veselik | Friday, February 20, 2009

Notre Dame’s campaign for a championship continues as it opens its home season this weekend as it hosts the No.1 Northwestern Wildcats Friday and the Ohio State Buckeyes Sunday.

The No. 11 Irish have met with the Wildcats nine times in their 13 seasons – the Wildcats hold a 7-2 edge in the series. Last year, Northwestern ended Notre Dame’s season with a 15-7 win in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.

Against the Buckeyes, the Irish hold a 7-6 edge in the two teams’ history, going 3-4 at home. In their last meeting, Notre Dame took the game 14-11.

Notre Dame is coming into this game 1-0 after a 22-7 win last weekend at Duquesne in its season opener. Ten different Irish players scored in the game, led by junior Gina Scioscia and sophomore Shaylyn Blaney, each with four goals.

All 13 of Notre Dame’s seasons have been coached by head coach Tracy Coyne, who is in her 22nd season of coaching after two at Denison, where she was 23-5, and seven at Roanoke with a 91-21 record. Coyne led Denison and Roanoke to a combined six Div. III NCAA tournament appearances. In the past seven years, Notre Dame has advanced to the NCAA tournament four times, including a first-time appearance in the finals in 2006.

Leading the Irish this season are senior captains Shannon Burke and Jillian Byers, both preseason all-Big East selections. Burke is key to Notre Dame’s defense, coming out of last season with eight goals and three assists, second on the team for ground balls (33) and draw controls (51), and led the team in caused turnovers (52).

Byers has been a unanimous selection on the all-Big East team her last three seasons, and a three-time second team All-American. Last season, she led the Irish with 67 goals, 14 assists for 81 points, and a school record of 52 draw controls. She holds the Notre Dame record as the all-time leader in goals with 182, is seventh in assists, and third in points.

Both the Wildcats and Buckeyes will have to be wary of another Irish senior this season, goalkeeper Erin Goodman. Goodman has made 37 consecutive starts since the beginning of the 2007 season, and has a career 24 wins, the most recent being at Duquesne. Last season she had single-season records of 172 saves and played over 1,100 minutes. She is third for the Irish with career saves of 316. Thought you would enjoy this one.

Notre Dame goes up against Northwestern Friday at 7 p.m. in the Loftus Sports Center, and Ohio State Sunday, 1 p.m. also at home.