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Women’s Lacrosse: Notre Dame eyes road trip

Brian Hartnett | Friday, April 5, 2013

No. 6 Notre Dame will look to extend its best start in program history when it travels south to face Louisville and Cincinnati in a pair of conference games this weekend.

The Irish (8-0, 2-0 Big East) have not played since March 24, when they routed Villanova, 14-2, at Arlotta Stadium. Irish junior defense Molly Shawhan said the team used the extended break to focus on the fundamentals.

“We’ve just been getting back to the basics, back to our stick work, and have been looking in at ourselves and understanding who we are as a team,” Shawhan said. “All the things we’ve had problems with during games are the little things, so we’ve been working on ball handling, ground balls, winning the draws, that kind of stuff.”

Notre Dame has gotten off to an 8-0 start for the second consecutive year under coach Christine Halfpenny. The Irish need two more wins to tie the 2004 squad for the best start in program history. Additionally, the team will look to become the first Irish team since 2002 to start 4-0 in Big East play.

The Irish will encounter a tough conference foe when they square off with Louisville (7-3, 0-2) at the UofL Lacrosse Stadium on Friday night. Notre Dame is 4-0 all-time against the Cardinals, but the last three meetings have been decided by two goals or less, including a 13-11 Irish victory last season.

The Cardinals jumped out to a 7-1 start this season, but dropped games to then-No. 15 Loyola and then-No. 9 Georgetown at the start of Big East play. Louisville junior midfielder Nikki Boltja, who has notched 40 points in 10 games this season, and freshman midfielder Kaylin Morissette, who has scored 26 goals on the year, have led the Cardinal offense.

“[Louisville] is really aggressive and scrappy,” Shawhan said. “Coach [Halfpenny] keeps saying that if there was a competition for which team could bench the most and be the strongest, they would be one of the front-runners. But I think we’re a lot more poised and smarter, so we’ll match up pretty well.”

The Irish will then travel to the newly-opened Sheakley Athletics Center in Cincinnati to meet the Bearcats (5-4, 0-2). Notre Dame is 4-0 all-time against Cincinnati and beat the Bearcats, 22-2, in last year’s meeting. Despite the program’s recent success against the Bearcats, Shawhan said she expects a tough fight from the Bearcats.

“Every team we’ve played has given us their best game, so we’re expecting that from all the teams we play,” she said. “We always play a nameless, faceless opponent and try to give every team our best as well, so we’ll try to do that Sunday.”

Cincinnati junior midfielder Taylor Young, senior midfielder Kylie Ramsland and sophomore midfielder Megan Bell power the Bearcats’ balanced scoring attack.

Notre Dame will look to improve to 10-0 when it meets Louisville on Friday at 5 p.m. and Cincinnati on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Contact Brian Hartnett at bhartnet@nd.edu