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Women’s Lacrosse: Halfpenny settles in as new Irish head coach

Matthew DeFranks | Friday, August 19, 2011

New Irish coach Christine Halfpenny shifted gears as soon as she learned she had earned the Notre Dame job. On the sidelines of a high school camp, Halfpenny quickly moved on from recruiting for William & Mary and started pitching Notre Dame.

“I was elated,” Halfpenny said. “I was excited. But I knew I had to get to work for the University of Notre Dame.”

Halfpenny left William & Mary to replace longtime Irish coach Tracy Coyne, who led the women’s lacrosse squad for the first 15 years of the program. Coyne led the Irish to a Final Four berth in 2006 and a Big East championship in 2009 on her way to 147 wins with Notre Dame.

“[Coyne] left big shoes to fill,” Halfpenny said. “She did an outstanding job putting them on the map. She had a big task as one of the first Midwest programs.”

Halfpenny’s William & Mary teams set single-season records for points, goals, draw controls, caused turnovers and saves during her tenure. Her last four Tribe squads topped the 10-win plateau. The Virginia Tech alumna also worked as an assistant coach and recruiting coordinator at Duke, where she reeled in some of the top classes in the country.

“From a coaching, recruiting and academic standpoint, she understands exactly what the expectations are here at Notre Dame and what it will take for our program to take the next set of steps forward,” Director of Athletics Jack Swarbrick said in a press release announcing Halfpenny’s hiring.

While at Duke, Halfpenny helped the Blue Devils earn a 3.46 team grade-point average, the best in the nation.

“I realized the importance of structure, commitment and dedication,” Halfpenny said. “I learned how to maximize effort and efficiency.”

At William & Mary, Halfpenny’s Tribe teams not only earned a combined 59 CAA Commissioner’s Academic Awards in the classroom, but also amassed five All-American selections on the field.

“We set goals for our girls,” she said. “We are organized with our time management. We want our girls to graduate and dominate the real world. We need to prepare our girls for life after lacrosse.”

Halfpenny, while with William & Mary, recruited many of the current Irish players and likens her new job to a reunion of sorts. She believes her personnel will fit nicely into her system and describes them as strong, fast, energetic and proud.

“Without question, Chris is the right person at the right time to lead out program,” Deputy Director of Athletics Bill Scholl said at the press conference introducing Halfpenny.

Elite facilities like the Loftus Center and Arlotta Stadium coupled with stellar recruiting resources have Halfpenny thinking big.

“We want to win a Big East championship, make a Final Four and ultimately, win a national championship,” she said.