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Women’s Lacrosse: Irish look to keep momentum against Buckeyes

Jack Hefferon | Wednesday, February 27, 2013


After winning its first game of the season under the palm trees in Palo Alto, No. 7/9 Notre Dame will head back inside for its home opener against No. 13/18 Ohio State tonight.

The Irish (1-0) struggled out of the gates in their opener at Stanford, and found themselves down 7-2 at halftime. The team rebounded out of halftime, though, and tallied 10 second-half goals to secure a 12-10 win.

In the week and a half since that win, Irish coach Chris Halfpenny has tried to refocus her team’s efforts on executing its own game plan to avoid another slow start against the Buckeyes (2-1).

“We struggled in the first half against Stanford, so we’ve been focused on our game and getting back to doing what we do,” Irish senior goaltender Ellie Hilling said. “Coach Halfpenny is big on having us work on just playing our game and not changing much from opponent to opponent.”

Hilling said she thought nerves and unfamiliarity may have had something to do with the early struggles against the Cardinal (1-1), which she said shouldn’t be as much of an issue tonight.

“We have a lot of young players, so I think we needed to get a bit of those first-game jitters out,” Hilling said. “Now we’re settling in and ready for Ohio State.”

Getting ready for the Buckeyes might be easier said than done, as they’ve already hit their stride in the young season. Ohio State’s offense is averaging 16 goals per game and should pose a formidable challenge to Hilling and the defense, although the senior netminder said the Irish may have a head start on shutting the Buckeyes down.

“Their offense is very similar to ours and that’s what we go against all the time in practice,” Hilling said. “So we should be pretty prepared defensively.”

Familiarity could help the Irish in another area, as well. Mid-February in South Bend doesn’t deliver much lacrosse weather, so the game will be played in Loftus Sports Center. The indoor facility can make visibility a difficult proposition at times, but Hilling said that will be nothing new for her or her teammates.

“We’ve been in there all preseason, so we’re pretty used to it,” she said. “Sometimes you lose the ball on a shot or a clear because of the lights, but that shouldn’t be too bad anymore.”

The Irish and Buckeyes will square off in an early-season top-20 matchup tonight in Loftus Sports Center, where the action is set to begin at 6 p.m.

Contact Jack Hefferon at wheffero@nd.edu