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Women’s Lacrosse: ND looks to remain undefeated

Joseph Monardo | Friday, March 30, 2012

After surviving a scare in their Big East opener, the No. 6 Irish are one of only two teams in Division I with an undefeated record.

Notre Dame will have to defend its perfect start twice this weekend, as it continues its Big East campaign by travelling to Rutgers today and No. 18 Loyola (Md.) on Sunday.

Their last time out, the Irish (7-0, 1-0 Big East) fell behind 5-1 early to Louisville, before battling back to capture the 13-11 home win. As they prepare to take to the road for a weekend swing, the Irish have shifted their focus to Rutgers (5-3).

“They have really been developing and growing in their game,” Irish coach Christine Halfpenny said of the Scarlet Knights. “They definitely come into this year’s game with a pretty solid, veteran lineup and they are very athletic ¾ they have great speed. I feel like they have a very aggressive and tough mentality, and have a system that is working for them.”

The Scarlet Knights began the season with consecutive losses, but have since won five of their last six, most recently in an 11-10 double-overtime defeat of Fairfield. The Irish expect a stiff challenge from Rutgers as their opponent opens the Big East portion of their schedule this afternoon.

“We know that this is their Big East opener on their home field,” Halfpenny said. “They have a lot of one-on-one scoring threats, so we will be looking to do our best to limit those opportunities. Hopefully we will be able to limit their top dodgers and have success.”

After facing off with Rutgers in New Brunswick, N.J., on Friday, the Irish will head to Baltimore, Md., to meet up with a Loyola team prominently featuring underclassmen.

“Overall, they are a little bit younger. They graduated a ton [last year], and right now when you look at their starting lineup, they have four freshman … with a couple of sophomores in there as well,” Halfpenny said. “I think they gain momentum off of every game that they have, and they are very skilled. They are a very well-coached team and they

have a very creative offense.”

Loyola (5-3, 1-0) already has three wins in five matchups with top-20 teams this season. On Saturday, the Greyhounds captured a 15-14 overtime road win against No. 13 Georgetown.

Notre Dame and Loyola play similar styles and have comparable talent, Halfpenny said.

“They are very similar to us, with the amount of weapons that they have. They have a lot of scoring threats, they have a lot of kids who are getting the job done, they move the ball very quickly and they have a very strong team defense,” she said.

“We feel like we have something that can combat that in the same regard.

“We are looking forward a battle, to be honest. This will be a big game for both teams.”

Both teams will enter the game off only one day of rest, as Loyola hosts Cincinnati tonight.

“This is just the way the Big East schedule shakes out,” Halfpenny said. “As you prepare throughout the week, you get some of the conditioning things in and then taper off into that Friday game. Then you have to do your best to recover and move forward.”

The Irish will try to extend their perfect start at 4 p.m. today against Rutgers before meeting up with Loyola at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Contact Joseph Monardo at jmonardo@nd.edu