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Women’s Lacrosse: Youth lead Irish to weekend sweep

Alex Wilcox | Monday, April 8, 2013

Notre Dame kicked off the weekend with a thrilling win in double overtime over Louisville on Friday and beat Cincinnati on Sunday to match the team’s best start in program history. With two more wins under their belts, the Irish kept their perfect season alive at 10-0, and 4-0 in the Big East.
In 2012 Notre Dame opened the season with eight straight wins before falling to Loyola, and it appeared the Irish might suffer their first loss in game No. 9, as well.
In a back-and-forth offensive battle, Notre Dame trailed at halftime, and were down 12-9 in the middle of the second half. At this point Irish coach Christine Halfpenny pulled senior goalie Ellie Hilling in favor of seldom-used sophomore Allie Murray, and Murray appeared to provide the spark Notre Dame desperately needed. The Irish rallied and took a 15-14 lead when senior attack Jenny Granger scored with just under four minutes left.  That lead didn’t last long, however, as Louisville senior attack Katie Oliverio tied the game at 15 with 2:20 remaining. After a scoreless first overtime, the game was headed to a second overtime, where freshman defender Stephanie Peragallo won a crucial draw control that set up senior attack Betsy Mastropieri’s game winning goal with 2:42 left to win it for the Irish.
Notre Dame head coach Christine Halfpenny said she was proud of her team for the win and the experience it provided.
“We seem to be getting everybody’s best at this point,” Irish coach Christine Halfpenny said. “We’re seeing some really good teams come out at us. We need to give our best no matter what our opponent is. After all is said and done, I’m happy we actually got an overtime game at this point because were going to go through a tough stretch, so it’s good to get that experience in.”
In Sunday’s contest against Cincinnati, Hilling returned in goal and made four saves in Notre Dame’s 13-6 victory. Junior attack Lindsay Powell played all 60 minutes and tallied two goals and an assist, while Mastropieri continued her strong weekend by adding two more goals. The Irish controlled this game from the beginning, taking over less than two minutes into the game. The Irish never trailed after gaining the lead three minutes into the game. Notre Dame also won in nearly every statistical category, tallying more shots, ground balls, and draw controls than Cincinnati.
Coming off Friday’s draining game against Louisville, Halfpenny said she was pleased to see her team come out strongly Sunday.
“I’m happy with the way we came out, we looked really good, I was happy with our energy and I felt our legs were fresh,” Halfpenny said. “We could’ve done a better job finishing, and our shooting percentage wasn’t where it should be, but I honestly wasn’t worried at all.”
While she may not have been satisfied with the way her squad shot the ball, she said she was very pleased with the youth that stepped up in Sunday’s game.
“Our young kids and the ability for our youth to really step up was great to see,” Halfpenny said. “We played a lot of younger kids today especially on defense and we only gave up 3 goals in each half. Allie [Murray] was able to come in and make some massive saves [on Friday], and today we got to see all three goalies.”
Halfpenny’s teams have been known for their strong starts, and the Irish continued this trend when they started 8-0 last year in her first year at the helm. As impressive as last year’s was, this year has been even better – this squad’s 10-0 start has matched that of the 2004 team as the best in program history. .
“All the credit goes to the girls,” Halfpenny said. “They work really hard, they’re constantly striving to be better. There’s always a process of getting better and we want to hit our peak at the right time. The back half of our schedule is better ranked, so learning what it takes to win in the beginning of the season has been huge. I’m very proud and excited about this team.”
The Irish return home for a crucial series against Loyola on Friday at 7 p.m. and Georgetown on Sunday at 1 p.m. Both games will be played at Arlotta Stadium.
Contact Alex Wilcox at awilcox1@nd.edu