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ND Women’s Lacrosse: Ready to attack

Allan Joseph | Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Irish traveled to Hempstead, N.Y. for today’s 3:30 p.m. clash at Hofstra to open their spring season. It will be the Pride’s second match after opening the season with a 21-3 dismantling of Saint Mary’s (Calif.).

Notre Dame has been practicing hard throughout the offseason and in the preseason. The Irish traveled to Lake Buena Vista, Fla., to scrimmage the U.S. National Elite team and U.S. National Developmental team in January at the Disney World of Sports in the Champion Challenge. The trip to Florida revealed important areas to focus on in practice, Irish coach Tracy Coyne said.

“Playing the U.S. team exposed that we need to protect the ball in transition,” she said.

Despite working on this in practice, Hofstra will still provide a test of the Notre Dame’s progress as it opens its season.

“We need to see what we can do,” Coyne said. “Because we’ve only played ourselves.”

The first game will be no easy win, either. Notre Dame has faced the Pride twice before, holding them off 14-13 in 2008 and prevailing 17-15 last season. Hofstra returned a strong contingent from last year’s 10-6 campaign and opened the season with an impressive victory.

“They always play us really tough. They’re a very quick, athletic, feisty and physical team,” Coyne said. “This is one of the toughest games because everyone expects us to win and Hofstra always plays us close.”

Senior Pride midfielder Corrine Gandolfini is a member of the U.S. National Developmental Team that faced the Irish, and she will be Notre Dame’s biggest concern. The game will be played in weather conditions that emphasize one-on-one attacking and ball possession, areas where Hofstra has been traditionally strong.

“Defensively, we’ve been working on our one-on-one defense,” Coyne said. “Draw control will also be huge.”

Coyne said she believes that no one player on the team will have to play well, but rather the entire squad as a whole, especially since this is the first game of the season in which the Irish will cement their lineup changes from last year.

“We’re trying a different midfield rotation,” Coyne said. “There will be lots of surprises, and hopefully they’re all pleasant ones.”

This game will be the first in Notre Dame’s campaign to reach its goals, including defending last season’s Big East title, and winning it outright, which the squad has never done. Notre Dame is also looking to win the conference tournament and advancing deep into the NCAA Tournament. Although much is up in the air as to how ready the team is to accomplish those goals, one thing is sure after preseason workouts.

“We’ll be as prepared as we can be,” Coyne said.

Notre Dame will face Hofstra at 3:30 p.m. to open its 14th season at the James M. Shuart Stadium in Hempstead, N.Y.