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ND Women’s Lacrosse

ACC competition begins with matchup against BC

| Thursday, February 13, 2014

The No. 11 Irish make their ACC debut Saturday when they take on No. 20 Boston College.

After a lopsided 25-1 win over Cincinnati on Wednesday, Notre Dame will face a talented Eagles squad. Both teams earned a spot in last year’s NCAA tournament but lost in the first round to their respective opponents. Irish junior defender Barbara Sullivan, Eagles junior midfielder Mikaela Rix and Eagles junior attacker Covie Stanwick earned spots on the preseason All-ACC team.

Irish freshman attacker/midfielder Courtney  Fortunato carries the ball during Notre Dame’s 25-1 win over Cincinnati on Wednesday. Emmet Farnan

Irish freshman attacker/midfielder Courtney Fortunato carries the ball during Notre Dame’s 25-1 win over Cincinnati on Wednesday.

The head coaches of the ACC picked Boston College to finish sixth in the eight-team conference, one spot behind the Irish (1-0). After an exhibition contest against Michigan, the Irish already notched their first win of the regular season against Cincinnati in the season opener. Notre Dame scored 44 goals and conceded eight in the two games combined. Boston College has not played yet this season.

Strong defense and near-perfect goaltending almost earned the Irish a spotless defensive record against Cincinnati, but the Bearcats snatched away the shutout with a goal in the last minute of the game.

Irish coach Christine Halfpenny said she hopes the victory against Cincinnati will fuel the team going into Saturday’s game.

“[Our plan is to] recover, refocus, and then start off fast again on Saturday,” Halfpenny said.

Halfpenny said  her team will have to replicate the on-field communication she heard against Cincinnati in the upcoming game.

“I saw so many players on the same page, talking from the low defenders to the high defenders, the middies behind the line talking to the defenders and giving them cues,” she said. “I’m really excited to see that consistent effort that we had today on Saturday against the Eagles.”

The Irish have not played the Eagles in recent years, so the game presents an opportunity for the Irish to make their mark on a new opponent. Boston College is the first ranked ACC team they will face, one of many that they will come up against over the course of the season.

The matchup also provides another early test for the Irish freshmen. The roster features 10 freshmen, including attacker and midfielder Courtney Fortunato, who scored four goals and had three assists in the season-opener against Cincinnati. Fortunato tied with sophomore attacker Rachel Sexton in scoring to lead the team. Freshman midfielder Grace Muller also netted three tallies during the game.

Halfpenny said the young talent on her squad has been impressive so far.

“By sheer numbers, two-thirds of the team is sophomores and freshman,” Halfpenny said. “We’re really pleased how they came out and were playing with veteran minds.”

In multiple respects, Saturday’s matchup is new territory for both teams. Whereas the Irish freshmen have had an exhibition match and a regular season game to adjust to Division 1 lacrosse, the Eagles’ freshmen have not had this opportunity, although the Eagles did participate in tournaments in the fall. Eight players on the Eagles’ 33-woman roster are freshmen.

Halfpenny said the Irish are focusing on the opportunities and challenges of Saturday’s game rather than looking ahead to the rest of the season.

“With 16 games [in the season], we look at them one at a time,” Halfpenny said. “I’m really excited about the potential that we knew we had.”

The Irish take on the Eagles on Saturday at 1 p.m. at the Loftus Sports Center.

Contact Christina Kochanski at ckochans@nd.edu.

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About Christina Kochanski

Christina is a member of the University of Notre Dame's Class of 2017. She plans to graduate with a degree in finance. She writes for the Sports section of the Observer and enjoys playing soccer.

Contact Christina