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Women’s Lacrosse: Notre Dame splits difficult weekend

Brian Hartnett | Monday, April 15, 2013

No. 5 Notre Dame found itself on the opposite ends of its two one-goal games this weekend, as the Irish fell to No. 20 Loyola (Md.), 14-13, on Friday before defeating No. 8 Georgetown, 13-12, on Sunday at Arlotta Stadium.

Notre Dame’s season-opening winning streak came to an end at 10 games Friday night when the Irish lost to Loyola in double overtime.

Greyhounds sophomore midfielder Sydney Thomas recovered a Notre Dame turnover and passed it ahead to sophomore attack Hannah Schmitt, who beat Hilling in a one-on-one opportunity for the sudden death goal just 1:21 into the second overtime.

Schmitt’s game-winning goal came after a thrilling first overtime that saw both teams score. Notre Dame (11-1, 5-1 Big East) took the lead when junior midfielder Margaret Smith scored with 1:17 left in the period, but Loyola (7-6, 3-1) tied it right back eight seconds later, as junior midfielder Marlee Paton won the draw and dashed downfield for the score.

Paton and Schmitt caused trouble for the Irish defense all game, as they combined to score eight of Loyola’s goals. Paton had five goals, while Schmitt added a hat trick.

“[Marlee] had the ability to win that final draw in the first overtime and go one-on-one down to the goal, so I think it was more in the transition that she gave us trouble,” Halfpenny said after the game. “Obviously, Hannah just made plays when she had to make plays.”

Notre Dame jumped out to a strong start, taking a 5-3 lead at the 14:32 mark of the first half. Loyola, however, went on a 5-1 run to take an 8-6 lead into the half, which culminated in a buzzer-beater, scored by senior attack Joanna Dalton.

In the second half, Notre Dame clawed back from a three-goal deficit to take the lead on Smith’s goal at the 12:04 mark, but the Greyhounds forced overtime after Schmitt scored with 4:12 left in the period.

The Irish committed 21 turnovers on the night, including four in overtime. Halfpenny said her team’s mistakes gave Loyola several extra offensive opportunities.

“The biggest thing we’ll take away from the game is that we have to limit our turnovers because our turnovers led to their ground balls and gave them 11 extra possessions,” Halfpenny said Friday night. “At the end of the day, I think that’s how they continued to come back and ultimately have one more goal than we did at the end of the game.”

The Irish rebounded from their first loss by defeating the Hoyas (9-3, 3-0) on Sunday in a game that featured numerous scoring runs.

After Irish junior attack Lindsay Powell scored just 18 seconds into the game, Georgetown scored three consecutive goals to take the early lead. Notre Dame soon turned the tide, finishing the half on a 3-1 run to knot the game up.

“I think you had two top-10 teams coming at each other and when we both found our rhythms, we were both hard to stop,” Halfpenny said. “When we had our crisp passing and our talking, I think we were able to do what we wanted to do.”

Notre Dame came out of the half firing on all cylinders, as the Irish scored four goals in a three-and-a-half minute stretch to open the lead up to 8-4. Georgetown quickly clawed right back with a 4-0 run to tie the game at the 14-minute mark.

The Irish emerged revitalized from Halfpenny’s subsequent timeout and took the lead on freshman midfielder Stephanie Toy’s goal at the 12:40 mark. The Irish then scored four of the game’s next five goals to take a 13-9 lead. Georgetown chipped at the deficit with a last-gasp offensive blitz that featured three goals in the last minute, but it was not enough and Notre Dame held on for the 13-12 win.

Irish senior goalie Ellie Hilling made a season-high 14 saves against the Hoyas, while sophomore midfielder Caitlin Gargan led the offense with four goals.

“I think [Ellie’s] eight stops in the first half really fueled our entire team, and our offense looked at Ellie Hilling and said, ‘You’re making those stops, we’re going to go ahead and do our job,'” Halfpenny said. “She was definitely the story of the game, but our freshmen and sophomores who came off the bench were amazing today and critical to the success as well.”

Irish senior attack and co-captain Jaimie Morrison sat out Sunday after totaling six points against Loyola. Halfpenny said the decision to sit Morrison out was a personal one and noted the senior would play in the team’s next game.

“She got a couple of bumps and bruises Friday night, so we decided it was just best to allow her to recover from Friday,” Halfpenny said.

Notre Dame will travel to face No. 6 Syracuse on Friday and No. 18 Connecticut on Sunday.

Contact Brian Hartnett at bhartnet@nd.edu