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Women’s Lacrosse: Closing the ‘Dores

Joseph Monardo | Thursday, April 19, 2012

It took an offensive explosion at the start and lockdown defense at the end, but the No. 6 Irish did just enough to secure a 12-11 win over No. 18 Vanderbilt Wednesday in Arlotta Stadium.

The contest was all Notre Dame (11-2, 4-2 Big East) in the opening minutes, as the home team jumped out to an early lead, scoring the first five goals of the game. After Irish senior attack Kelly Driscoll broke open the scoring, junior attack Jaimie Morrison notched four straight for the Irish.

“I was excited about the start that we had,” Irish coach Christine Halfpenny said. “That is something that we have been focusing on and we got out of the gate strong and then continued to do so.”

The Commodores (7-7, 1-4 ALC) responded with their first goal nearly 15 minutes into the game and added two more goals while keeping the Irish off the board over the last 14:03 of the half to reduce the deficit to 6-3 at halftime.

The Commodores began the second half on a tear, taking the first four draw controls of the half and netting three straight goals to even the score. Irish senior attack Maggie Tamasitis finally ended Notre Dame’s 20-minute goal drought by weaving through the defense and bouncing in a score with 23:50 remaining.

“We hit a little bit of a lull there when we let them back into the game,” Halfpenny said. “That is something we have to figure out, but I am really proud of these girls – how they continue to fight and play this game to the final whistle.”

The two teams traded goals for the remainder of the half as the Irish were unable to open up a lead larger than three goals. Notre Dame never trailed in the game. Leading 12-11 in the final minute-and-a-half, the Irish defense was able to turn the Commodores away empty-handed to secure the win.

The loss drops Vanderbilt to .500, but six of its seven losses have come against teams ranked inside the top- 11, including four defeats at the hands of top-six teams. Considering Vanderbilt’s track record against tough competition, the close win provides the Irish with valuable experience, Halfpenny said.

“They play in one of the toughest conferences in the country,” Halfpenny said. “Right now, actually, in their conference, all six of their teams are ranked in the top-20, so they are battle tested every time out. It did give us experience that we needed.”

Irish junior goalkeeper Ellie Hilling picked up her 10th win of the season between the pipes for the Irish, picking up 13 saves in the process.

“When you look at the stat sheets, we didn’t win one line except for we outscored them and out-saved them,” Halfpenny said. “So Ellie Hilling was huge today for us … Our defense in front really did their job in locking it down and giving her more savable shots, but at the same time, she had point blank [saves]. I am thrilled with her effort.”

Although the Irish ended up on the wrong side of the draw control battle in the game, Halfpenny said she was pleased with the work of freshman defender Barbara Sullivan on the draw.

“It was back and forth all game but when we really needed it she was pulling those down uncontested so I am really proud of her,” she said.

After gutting out a tough win at home, the Irish will travel to Washington, D.C., to face No. 14 Georgetown in a matchup heavy with Big East implications at 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

 

 

Contact Joseph Monardo at jmonardo@nd.edu