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Women’s Lacrosse: Irish look to continue success over Villanova

Matthew DeFranks | Friday, April 8, 2011

In a weekend of matches against Villanova and Syracuse in 2010, the Irish were near perfect in holding both teams scoreless for a combined 96 minutes. But what will they do for an encore?

In the 16-0 win over the Wildcats last year, sophomore goalie Ellie Hilling recorded the first and only shutout of her collegiate career. The 16-goal victory also marked the first blank slate in program history and the first in the Big East conference since 2001.

“We can only duplicate it but not beat it because it’s so hard to shut anyone out,” Irish coach Tracy Coyne said. “Hopefully we’ll have a similar game.”

Notre Dame (4-6, 1-1 Big East) opened Big East play last weekend, splitting a pair of games against Rutgers and non-conference opponent Loyola. The Irish snapped a brief two-game losing skid by defeating the Scarlet Knights 11-6 behind a great game from freshman midfielder Kaitlyn Brosco.

The Irish fell to then-No. 5 Loyola in a tight 13-10 loss.

“All the girls are disappointed but they want to play them again in the Big East tournament,” Coyne said after the loss. “These are the weekends that prepare you for a championship.”

The Wildcats (4-4, 0-1) are set to host their first Big East game of the season when they face off with the Irish today. Villanova, suffered an 11-2 loss to California in their previous game on March 27th. In its season opener this year, Notre Dame convincingly defeated California 20-6.

Junior midfielder Justine Donodeo leads the Wildcats in scoring, having tallied 24 goals and nine assists over Villanova’s first eight games. Donodeo has also put nearly 84 percent of her shots on goal.

The goalkeeper position has been a revolving door for the Wildcats this season, as the team has taken the field with three different goalies. Freshman Julia Todd has started a team-high five games in between the pipes while surrendering just 7.18 goals per game.

“We’re expecting [Todd] to be the starter, but the other two [goalies] are similar to her,” Coyne said. “We just want to have a great offensive game.”

No matter which goalie starts for the Wildcats, Villanova will have a difficult time containing a potent Irish offense. Junior attack Maggie Tamasitis averages over two assists per contest and has contributed 21 assists on the year, extending her point streak to 28 games. Sophomore midfielder Jenny Granger has scored a team-high 17 goals this season.

The Irish have been strong this year controlling the draw, winning the face-off 52 percent of the time. Senior midfielder Shaylyn Blaney and senior defender Jackie Doherty have combined to scoop up 48 ground balls and control 38 draws.

On Sunday, the Irish will face No. 15 Syracuse (3-6, 1-0) in the Carrier Dome, a place the Irish have never won.

“We’ve circled this game on our schedule for a long time,” Coyne said. “We’re really looking forward to the competition.”

Orange senior goalie Liz Hogan, who owns a 44 percent save percentage, garnered high praise from Coyne and the Irish.

“She’s very active and a great clearer,” Coyne said. “We’ve played a lot of great goalies recently.”

The Irish take on the Wildcats today at 4:30 p.m before challenging the Orange Sunday at 1 p.m.