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Women’s Lacrosse: Squad defeats Hoyas for first Big East title

Meaghan Veselik | Monday, April 27, 2009

The No. 10 Irish finally have their first Big East title after a 12-10 victory over No. 7 Georgetown Sunday in the final round of the Big East championship at Georgetown’s Multi-Sport Facility.

“It was such an awesome weekend,” Irish coach Tracy Coyne said. “I’m so proud of our team. We’ve wanted this for so long, and we’re finally held to the same high standard as the other Notre Dame teams with our success.”

And the Irish (14-4, 5-2 Big East) should be proud of themselves, winning 16-10 over No. 8 Syracuse (12-4, 6-1) Friday afternoon, and coming back to take down the Hoyas (12-5, 6-1) not even two days later.

Senior goalkeeper Erin Goodman earned the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player honor.

Against the Orange, senior attack Jillian Byers, junior attack Gina Scioscia and sophomore midfield Kailene Abt made up for Notre Dame’s April 11 loss at the Carrier Dome in which the Irish outscored the Orange 12-2 in the second half but fell 14-13.

Friday, Byers had four goals and three assists to lead the Irish with seven points, followed close behind by Scioscia with two goals and three assists and Abt with four goals and an assist.

Goodman led the defense, which allowed only 20 shots in the game and only two goals in the second half. Notre Dame also had 21 ground balls, 12 draw controls and 13 caused turnovers in the win.

The Irish led 9-8 at the half after a goal from Byers with 21:49 left gave them the lead they never gave up.

“It was an amazing game for our team,” senior co-captain Shannon Burke said. “We played a full 60-minute game, and never let up. From end to end, our connections were unstoppable.”

Notre Dame continued to be relentless as they stepped onto the field Sunday in their first-ever appearance in the final round of the tournament. They fell to Georgetown in the first round in 2007 and 2008. But the Irish, especially the team’s four seniors, were determined to not let history repeat itself again this weekend.

“The seniors really wanted it,” Coyne said. “Individually, they each had outstanding games. Their desire and experience really helped and showed itself today. Especially Erin Goodman, who made some really big saves.”

Goodman totaled nine saves against the Hoyas and was named to the All-Tournament team along with teammates Byers, Burke, Scioscia, Abt and junior defender Rachel Guerrera.

“It’s been so surreal to admit that these remaining few games are my last, but it has definitely brought a new fire to our level of play as seniors,” Burke said.

The Irish came out strong from the start, scoring the first four goals of the game, and led 9-2 at the half.

“We ran the fast break really well, worked the ball down the field, and were able to capitalize the opportunity when it presented itself,” Coyne said.

Capitalize they did as six Irish players scored, which helped them to hold off the Hoyas. Leading the scoring was sophomore attack Kaitlin Keena with three goals.

“It’s difficult to stop a team with so many people contributing,” Coyne said. “It was a crazy second half. We knew they had it in them to come back, but we managed to hold them.”

The Irish have few days off before starting the NCAA Tournament, in which they have an automatic bid in for the first time. Notre Dame will travel to Ithaca, N.Y., to take on No. 20 Cornell on May 2 in the first round.

“It was a big win for us, but we still have to face another ranked team,” Coyne said. “Hopefully we can win at Cornell and get a home field advantage for the second round.”