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Women’s Lacrosse: Team squares off with Dukes

Cory Bernard | Friday, March 1, 2013

After defeating No. 13 Ohio State 13-8 in its home opener Wednesday, No. 9 Notre Dame hits the road again. The Irish (2-0) will look to win their third straight tilt to open the season when they face Duquesne on Saturday in Pittsburgh.

During Notre Dame’s victory over the Buckeyes, the Irish registered 14 draw controls to Ohio State’s nine. Irish coach Christine Halfpenny said possession will again be a key factor against the Dukes (2-1).

“I think possession [is a key], the draw is going to be very important,” Halfpenny said. “All season, you are going to hear me talk about possession and, again, capitalizing on second-chance opportunities because our defense is definitely a force to reckon with, holding the No. 13 team in the country to eight goals. 

“It’s definitely a goal for us and we’re going to get right back to adjustments on the draw because obviously you can see that the momentum shifts coincided with when we were gaining possession on the draw.”

Junior midfielder and co-captain Margaret Smith led the Irish on Wednesday with four goals while also securing three draw controls and scooping up four ground balls. Smith said her teammates have increased her confidence.

“I’m definitely a much more quiet person who leads by example, but having to step up vocally and realizing that I haven’t played a lot of offense in the past, but being able to step up and be confident,” Smith said. “My teammates give me a lot of confidence to go out there and play hard.”

Duquesne enters Saturday’s contest having lost its last game, 16-9, to No. 10 Penn State on Wednesday. Duquesne junior midfielder Caitlin Prince, however, scored six goals against the Nittany Lions and leads the Dukes with 10 goals on the year.

“We were really focused on looking at one opponent at a time – my assistants started looking at Duquesne yesterday,” Halfpenny said. “What do we know about them? They’re a strong opponent, very well-coached. They’re pretty methodical in their offenses and their defenses.”

The Irish hold an 8-0 record in the all-time series against Duquesne and defeated the Dukes 17-7 last year. However, Notre Dame needed a strong second-half rally after finding itself trailing 5-4 in the first half. According to Halfpenny, the Irish relish the opportunity to play a tough opponent on the road and will need to prepare seriously for Saturday’s matchup.

“They definitely will have a great game plan against us, they always do. I go back to last year where it was a really close game – as a matter of fact, they were leading us for the better part of the first half and we had to again stay resilient and know that it was going to be a long game and we weren’t going to win the game on one goal.

“Heading out to Pittsburgh, we’re excited to get outside. It will be a cold game and it will be a tough matchup. They were a top team in the Atlantic 10 last year and they’ll be a top team in the Atlantic 10 this year as well.”

The Irish will face Duquesne on Saturday at noon at Rooney Field in Pittsburgh.

Contact Cory Bernard at cbernard@nd.edu