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Women’s Lacrosse: ND falls to Loyola 17-11, suffers first loss of year

Joseph Monardo | Sunday, April 1, 2012

Just two days after miraculously avoiding their first loss of the season, the No. 6 Irish saw their winning streak halted at eight games on the back end of a weekend road swing.

Notre Dame scored two goals in the final minute of overtime to capture a 13-12 (OT) win over Rutgers on Friday before falling to No. 15 Loyola (Md.), 17-11, on Sunday.

In the weekend opener, the Scarlet Knights (6-4, 1-1 Big East) forced overtime and netted the period’s first goal before Irish junior midfielder Jenny Granger scored with under a minute remaining to tie the game. Less than 40 seconds later, Irish sophomore midfielder Margaret Smith deposited the game-winning goal, helping Notre Dame (8-1, 2-1) avoid the upset loss.

Rutgers hammered out a 3-1 lead in the first half by controlling the pace of the game and limiting Notre Dame’s explosive offense. Eventually, the Irish managed to regain control, depositing six-straight goals in a run that spanned into the second half.

The Irish failed to put the game away in regulation, however, as a Rutgers goal with 15 seconds remaining in regulation completed the home team’s comeback, sending the game to overtime.

“I think that they came up with a couple of big stops down the stretch and made it an exciting game,” Irish coach Christine Halfpenny said. “They are a big, athletic team. There was a bit of back and forth, and they won three draw controls in a row and were able to convert on our goalie.”

Junior goalkeeper Ellie Hilling notched six saves in between the pipes for the Irish, and sophomore midfielder/attack Lindsay Powell led Notre Dame with four goals in the game, bringing her team-leading season total to 27 scores. Irish senior attack Maggie Tamasitis recorded five points and assisted on both of Notre Dame’s overtime goals.

After escaping from Piscataway, N.J., unscathed, the Irish headed to Baltimore to face a Loyola (7-3, 3-0) team in search of its fourth win over a ranked opponent this season.

After the Greyhounds and the Irish each had scoring runs of four consecutive goals in the opening half, Loyola carried a 7-5 lead into the break.

The teams traded goals in the early minutes of the second half before Loyola embarked on an 8-0 run, spanning more than 17 minutes, giving the home team an 17-8 advantage. Notre Dame scored three straight goals to end the game, but was unable to erase the substantial deficit.

“I think it was obviously a game of a couple momentum shifts … I think the biggest shift was draw controls and their possession style,” Halfpenny said. “They basically won the draw and burned a lot of clock [during their runs], and that was a big game-changer.”

In the draw-control battle – a category in which the Irish have struggled all season – Notre Dame won 11 of the 13 draws in the first half, before controlling only six of 17 in the final half.

Loyola outshot the Irish 36-27 in the game and put 25 shots on goal to Notre Dame’s 19. The Greyhounds took advantage of Notre Dame’s 30 fouls in the game by converting five of six free-position shots.

With the Irish loss, No. 1 Northwestern (9-0) remains the only unbeaten team in Division I. Despite losing for the first time this season, the Irish maintain confidence, Halfpenny said.

“I mean, it is one of 16. Loyola is a very good team, they are very athletic, they have a lot of firepower, they have a great goalkeeper, they are number one in the Big East,” she said.

“It is certainly an opportunity that we can go back and learn from.”

Notre Dame will look to get back on track when it resumes Big East play Thursday night when they host Syracuse in Arlotta Stadium at 7 p.m.

Contact Joseph Monardo at jmonardo@nd.edu