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Women’s Lacrosse: Notre Dame aims to stay undefeated on trip

Joseph Monardo | Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Coming off a convincing win over then-No. 10 Ohio State, No. 7 Notre Dame will attempt to double its win total over spring break and extend its perfect start to six games.

The Irish (3-0) will head to Massachusetts to face Boston University on Saturday before traveling to Florida for showdowns with Ivy League members Yale and Cornell. After beginning their season with two home games and a trip to Ohio Stadium, the Irish will experience their first true road tests over the three-game stretch.

“I think the big thing right now that we have obviously looked at is that our first three-game swing is a lot different than our second three-game swing,” Irish coach Christine Halfpenny said. “Obviously we had that comfort at home for the first two games, and even the third game was a bus trip, which is pretty easy, honestly … The main thing that we are going to be aware of is our focus — make sure that our girls are able to focus on us.”

In their most recent outing, the Irish outscored Ohio State (5-1) by a score of 16-7 in a game that brought a career-day for junior goaltender Ellie Hilling. Hilling notched 16 saves and earned the Big East Defensive Player of the Week award on Monday.

“I think it is a total team effort,” Halfpenny said. “Our defense is doing its job in front of Ellie, giving her looks that are high percentage saves, and that is important. That does not take away from some of the saves she was making at point blank range, because … she was making some major momentum-swinging saves as well.”

As they prepare to face BU (1-3), the Irish will have to figure out how to score on the Terriers’ sophomore goalkeeper Christina Sheridan, who recorded two career high saves in the past week. The Terriers are a familiar opponent both for the Irish and Halfpenny, who coached against BU during her time at William and Mary.

“There is familiarity because we have played them before, which is always nice, but they are a new team,” Halfpenny said. “Each team has graduated quite a bit, they certainly are very, very aggressive … they have athleticism in the midfield, they are very, very well coached, so we will be looking forward to a very spirited game. “

Following their Saturday tilt with Boston, the Irish will face Yale (2-1) in Delray Beach, Fla., on Tuesday and Cornell (3-0) in Orlando, Fla., on March 17. Both teams already have experience this season facing ranked opponents — Yale fell to No. 9 Dartmouth 9-8 Saturday and Cornell scrimmaged No. 14 Penn State on Feb. 9.

While the Irish look forward to traveling during spring break, the players will have devote extra energy to maintaining focus come game time, Halfpenny said.

“While it is a great spring trip, it is also a business trip for us, and a very important one in this stretch, as well,” she said. “Let’s be present when we are there, let’s really have fun when we are together and continue to improve on our game.”

One area in particular that the Irish will try to improve is the draw-control game. Against Ohio State, Notre Dame corralled only nine draw-controls compared to the Buckeyes’ 15.

“We have really been focusing on the draw. That is an area that we have been picking apart because … we weren’t winning that battle against our opponent and we haven’t done that yet.”

The Irish will begin their three-game road trip Saturday when they face off with Boston at 3 p.m.

 

Contact Joseph Monardo at jmonardo@nd.edu