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Women’s Lacrosse: Squad looks to even record against stiff competition

Matthew DeFranks | Wednesday, April 20, 2011

As the season winds down, each lacrosse game becomes more and more important. For the Irish, each game becomes tougher as well.

After beating Connecticut 15-5 Saturday, Notre Dame will battle No. 20 Vanderbilt in Nashville before returning home to play Big East leader No. 17 Georgetown.

In the win over Connecticut, Irish junior attack Maggie Tamasitis tied a Notre Dame (6-7, 3-2 Big East) single-game record with six assists. Meanwhile, senior midfielder Shaylyn Blaney led the Irish attack with four goals.

“[Notre Dame-Vanderbilt] is a huge rivalry, we play them every year,” Irish coach Tracy Coyne said. “We don’t have trouble getting psyched to play them. It will be good prep for the Georgetown game.”

Vanderbilt (7-7) is coming off a string of close games, with its last three contests decided by just one score. Most recently, the Commodores lost to then-No. 6 Florida 8-7, holding the Gators to their lowest offensive output of the season.

Junior attack Courtney Kirk leads the Commodores with 47 points, including 26 assists. Junior midfielder Ally Carey has also had a solid season, scooping up 3.57 ground balls per game, the fourth-highest total in the country.

“Our attack matches up with their defensive weaknesses and our defensive personnel matches up well with their key players,” Coyne said. “We have a good game plan and an edge in all categories, I think.”

On offense, Georgetown (7-5, 5-0) boasts two 20-goal scorers in senior attack Jordy Kirr and sophomore midfielder Sophia Thomas. Kirr and Thomas also lead the Hoyas in assists.

The Hoyas carry an opportunistic team defense that causes nearly 11 turnovers a game, the fourth-highest mark nationally. Freshman goalie Barb Black has anchored the Georgetown defense, playing over 500 minutes and allowing 9.71 goals per game.

“We recruit the same players and they are always competitive year in, year out,” Coyne said. “We need to improve in transition and have less turnovers.”

The Irish, however, can cause some turnovers as well. Senior defender Jackie Doherty ranks third nationally in the category, while Blaney is sixth. Blaney is also the Irish leader in goals scored with 21 total.

Saturday will mark the last home game for Notre Dame’s seniors, a class that includes two All-Americans and a Big East championship.

“It’s sad to see such a great group of players play their last game in Arlotta Stadium,” Coyne said. “The seniors would feel great satisfaction by beating Georgetown at home.

The Irish play Vanderbilt at 2 p.m. today before returning to Arlotta Stadium for a 1 p.m. start against Georgetown Saturday.