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Women’s Lacrosse: Laxers take on Huskies in finale

Eric Prister | Friday, April 17, 2009

No. 9 Notre Dame hopes to bounce back in its final match of the regular season when it faces Connecticut on Saturday at Alumni Field.

The Irish (11-4, 4-2 Big East) are coming off two tough losses against No. 8 Syracuse, which is tied atop the Big East standings, and non-conference foe No. 12 Vanderbilt. Notre Dame’s conference record has it sitting in third place behind the Orange and Georgetown. The Irish have already clinched their spot in the Big East Championships on April 24 and 26.

“Our focus is shifting back to the Big East,” Irish Coach Tracy Coyne said. “I think it’s good to get back to our goal of winning the Big East Championship. We need to take care of business Saturday against Connecticut and then start preparing for really tough competition in the Big East Tournament.”

The Huskies recently defeated Holy Cross, snapping their three game losing streak. Connecticut (3-12, 2-4) comes into the match with its Big East tournament berth hopes on the line.

The Irish are 8-2 all-time against the Huskies, winning four out of the five matches played at home. In the teams’ previous meeting a year ago, Notre Dame defeated Connecticut 18-11.

Scoring has been a strength for the Irish this season, as they come into the matchup averaging nearly 16 goals per game, good for first in the Big East. Five Irish players enter the contest with point streaks, including senior Jillian Byers and sophomore Shaylyn Blaney, who are each riding 15-game point streaks, and junior Gina Scioscia, who enters the contest with a 13-game point streak.

“I have confidence in the team on both sides of the ball, but I think we feel better as a team when we’re scoring,” Coyne said. “It relaxes us. From that standpoint, if the attack is struggling a little bit early, it makes us a little more tense. If we’re scoring early, it will relax us a little more and maybe we’ll play better.”

Notre Dame will also honor its seniors before the game on Saturday. Byers, along with Shannon Burke, Erin Goodman and Beth Koloup will be honored as they play in their last home game this weekend against the Huskies.

“Everyone’s going to be really motivated to go out and play well for the seniors and thank them for their contributions to the program and honor them with a great game,” Coyne said.

The class of 2009 has been one of the most successful in Irish history, appearing in three Big East tournaments, two NCAA tournaments and accumulating a 49-21 career record, the best in team history.

“[The seniors have] had a huge impact on the success of the program in terms of elevating our overall profile on the national level,” Coyne said. “I think they’ve brought a certain level of intensity, commitment and competitiveness that’s allowed us to compete with the top teams in the country.”

The meeting between the Irish and the Huskies is scheduled to begin at noon at Alumni Field.