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Women’s Lacrosse: Irish throttle Bearcats in regular-season finale

Joseph Monardo | Monday, April 30, 2012

Saturday’s game against Cincinnati was more than just a normal lacrosse game in Arlotta Stadium. The contest served as Notre Dame’s final game of the regular season, Senior Day and the Lax for the Cure game. But even with the many accompanying occasions, the No. 6 Irish managed to handle the lacrosse portion of the day quite skillfully with a 22-2 victory.

Entering the regular season finale after a 17-7 loss to No. 1 Northwestern on Wednesday, Notre Dame (13-3, 6-2 Big East) exited the gates on fire, with four goals in the first 5:01. The Irish reached the seven-goal mark they were held to against the Wildcats (16-1, 4-1 ALC) less than 11 minutes into Saturday’s meeting with Cincinnati (3-12, 0-8).

Notre Dame’s rapid scoring pace barely slowed from there, as the Irish used contributions from 11 different goal-scorers to gather a 17-2 advantage by halftime.

The offensive outpouring was a welcome change from the relative futility the Irish had experienced in their previous two outings, Irish coach Christine Halfpenny said.

“The last two games we were limited a bit, and credit to both of the defenses we played against in both Georgetown and Northwestern, but at the same time, we really limited ourselves … We focused … on getting back to moving the ball, and then taking advantage of the opportunities,” she said.

In the second half, the Irish offense was less prolific in terms of goals scored, but equally dominant in possession and control. Among Notre Dame’s five second-half goals were tallies by senior defender Jordy Shoemaker and graduate student defender Brittany Mallory, who both deposited a goal for the first time this season.

Halfpenny said the goals by the defenders were not the result of players showing off.

“It’s fun. It’s not showboating by any means, we want our defenders to be able to go forward because there are some games where the defense is limiting your offense and you need a spark,” Halfpenny said. “You need to start some momentum and defense is open, they should go to goal. That’s part of your job on the field.”

In total, 13 Irish players recorded goals in the game on 38 shots, many of which came at the doorstep of the Bearcats’ net. The 22 goals tie a program home record, and the 20-goal margin of victory is the largest in program history.

The Irish were equally successful on the defensive end, where they surrendered just six shots and two goals, both of which came in the game’s early minutes. The complete effort made for a special day for the seniors, Halfpenny said.

“It’s so much fun. I think our whole team from top to bottom made this such a special day for the seniors,” the first-year coach said. “It’s so special. It’s so cool. They all had outstanding games. They came in, worked hard ⎯ it’s what they’ve been doing for four years.”

Eight Notre Dame seniors shared the honors on Senior Day, as Mallory, Shoemaker, defender Kristin DeRespiris, attack Kelly Driscoll and Maggie Tamasitis and midfielders Flannery Nangle, Kate Newall and Megan Sullivan enjoyed their final home action.

On a day where everything went right for the home team, Halfpenny said Notre Dame’s 10 assists stood out most. Six of the assists came from Tamasitis, who tabbed a conference-record 31 assists in Big East play this season.

“I was the most excited about how many helpers we had,” Halfpenny said. “[It was] not just the 22 goals, but the fact that so many were assisted. That means that you’re working as a unit and that’s exciting. That’s a good confidence-[builder] heading into Loyola on Thursday for our first round Big East game.”

The No. 3 seed Irish will look to avenge last year’s conference championship loss when they take on second-seeded Loyola (Md.) in the first round of the Big East tournament in Syracuse, N.Y., on Thursday.

Contact Joseph Monardo at jmonardo@nd.edu