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Women’s Lacrosse: Gargan dominates from midfield

Jack Hefferon | Tuesday, April 16, 2013


It’s been a heck of a ride for No. 7 Notre Dame, as the team jumped out and tied the best start to a season (10-0) in program history. And while the red-hot Irish hit a bit of a speed bump in suffering their first loss in double overtime to No. 17 Loyola on Friday, Notre Dame was jumped right back on the gas thanks to the team’s driving force: sophomore midfielder Caitlin Gargan.

After a slow start to her second season, Gargan has come on strong over the past few weeks. She broke out of her shell with four goals and six points against Villanova on March 24, and Gargan helped keep the Irish in the game against Loyola with a hat trick.

Irish coach Christine Halfpenny said Gargan’s emergence has allowed the team to construct an offense around her and Notre Dame’s other playmakers.

“She drives this offensive bus for us,” Halfpenny said of Gargan. “She loves the spread offense. … It’s not her fitting the offense; she’s actually helping us build that offense. We’re building it around her and all the other threats, so it’s really nice to see that chemistry take form.”

Gargan’s surge has helped push the sophomore into the starting lineup, after she came off of the bench as a freshman and earlier this season. The New York native said being a starter has helped her perform even better, as it’s easier to get into the game when she starts playing from the opening whistle.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Gargan said. “You don’t have to be the guy every time, but when you’re in the starting lineup, you get to be in the flow a little bit more and have more opportunities.”

That flow was on full display Sunday as the Irish tried to bounce back from their Friday loss against No. 8 Georgetown, arguably the toughest team Notre Dame has faced all season. Knotted 4-4 at halftime, Gargan exploded for four second-half goals and helped power the Irish to a 13-12 win over the Hoyas.

Halfpenny said Gargan’s play was just what the Irish needed at that time and just another example of the midfielder’s willingness to go the extra mile for her team.

“She’s a player that will do what the team needs,” Halfpenny said. “Obviously, putting this amount of goals in gives her confidence, and she knows that she’s critical to our success, so we’re thrilled with what she’s doing. She’s incredibly athletic and incredibly dynamic, and her poise absolutely is starting to be a trickle-down effect for the rest of our attackers.”

Gargan’s play may be needed more than ever this weekend, when the Irish travel to the Carrier Dome to take on No. 5 Syracuse in a crucial conference matchup. And while Gargan admits her production has been a bit inconsistent this year, she sees no reason why she can’t continue her recent tear.c

“This season, I have been [streaky],” Gargan said. “I started off a little cold, but I think I’m hitting my stride now.”

Contact Jack Hefferon at wheffero@nd.edu