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Women’s Lacrosse: Highly-touted ND prepares for season

Kevin Baldwin | Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Notre Dame is preparing to take to the field for the start of the 2010 season and with it a chance to follow up a record setting 2009 season that culminated in the team’s first Big East championship.

Last year the Irish went 16-5 overall, 6-2 in the Big East, and made the NCAA tournament for the fifth time in program history. They toppled Vanderbilt in the first round but victory eluded them in the quarterfinal round against a dominant North Carolina in the first ever meeting between the two teams.

In January, the Irish traveled to Florida for a preseason exhibition tournament against the U.S. National Team as well as the U.S. Development Team to test their metal against the world’s best, and work out any kinks before the start of intercollegiate competition.

“It was the World Cup team our first game so when you go into that kind of situation, it’s more to see what you can do well but also to learn from the best,” Irish coach Tracy Coyne said. “We have some things we need to work on but it was excellent preparation for the opener against Hofstra.”

Coyne, entering her 14th season as head coach, has been with the team since they entered Division I in 1997 and has raised the program from the club level to one of the most feared in the country.

With nine juniors and seniors in the starting lineup, experience at the collegiate level is in no shortage on the veteran squad. There is confidence that the senior leadership will help develop the younger players into stronger athletes and more adept “laxers.”

“I think we have some younger players that blend in really nicely so we’ve got good balance,” Coyne said. “I think with each individual game we’ll have a chance to adapt and rise to the occasion.”

Three seniors lead the No. 8 Irish, and they have relied on these seniors to show the underclassmen the ropes.

“The underclassmen have been working really hard, bringing a fresh style of play so the chemistry is there,” senior captain Rachel Guerrera said. “They’ve adapted to the game so far.”

The Irish will travel to Long Island to take on Hofstra in their season opener on Feb. 23.

The last two meetings between the teams have been decided by a one goal margin, but this year there is hope that the tournament in January has given Notre Dame the edge they need for a decisive win.

“Its always been a close game with them, coming off this weekend I think we can bring a better game than we have in the past,” senior captain Maggie Zentgraf said.

In any case, it is shaping up to be an interesting year for the Irish, and for the returning players another opportunity to make a run for the National Championship.

“We’re not satisfied with last season and you’re always inspired by the other teams here to do your best,” Coyne said.