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ND Women’s Lacrosse

Gargan emerges with hot start

| Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Notre Dame’s entrance into the ACC got off to a rocky start with Saturday’s 15-10 loss to Boston College. But one bright spot in the game, and throughout the young season, was junior midfielder Caitlin Gargan.

The Rocky Point, N.Y., native has scored six goals and tallied five assists through Notre Dame’s first two games. While she hoped for a strong start to the year and knew she was a capable scorer, even Gargan was surprised by her hot start for the Irish (1-1, 0-1 ACC).

Irish junior Caitlin Gargan launches a shot against Boston College on Saturday. ND lost 15-10, but Gargan scored four goals.Emily McConville

Irish junior Caitlin Gargan launches a shot against Boston College on Saturday. ND lost 15-10, but Gargan scored four goals.

“I didn’t expect to start the season off like this,” Gargan said. “Hopefully, I can make it a habit for the rest of the season and carry it through to May.”

Last season, Gargan had 24 points and was the fourth-highest scorer on the team with 19 goals. She leads the team in points this year and is on pace to shatter last year’s mark. But even with all her personal success, Gargan credits her teammates as the reason for her offensive prowess.

“One thing I can point to is a lot of help from the rest of the attackers I play with,” Gargan said. “A lot of work is done to get the ball in a scoring position. Our offense tries to work as a unit and have a lot of players get touches on the ball each possession. I think my teammates have helped to put me in a position to find success and score early this season.”

Irish coach Christine Halfpenny sees Gargan’s unique scoring ability as a form of leadership for her team. Even after the loss to Boston College, Halfpenny praised Gargan for her four-goal, two-assist performance, which followed two goals and three assists in the season-opening 25-1 win over Cincinnati on Feb. 12.

“[I saw] a lot of good things,” Halfpenny said Saturday. “I saw some great leadership in her, putting up two back-to-back incredible games on offense and a stellar shooting effort again.”

While her coach was pleased with her performance, Gargan maintained that winning was the only goal that mattered to her.

“Losing a conference game is never something we take lightly; every game we play in the ACC has implications, so it’s upsetting to lose like we did on Saturday,” Gargan said. “It’s always nice to play well as an individual when your team plays well as a whole, but scoring points doesn’t really matter if we don’t get to add a win to our record.”

Although Gargan was upset with the loss, she said the mistakes are very fixable.

“Moving forward, we have to make sure that we pay attention to detail and make sure that we stay fundamentally sound,” Gargan said. “If we focus on simple pieces of the game, like draw controls and ground ball pick-ups, our play will improve, mostly because we’ll be able to control possession. Luckily, much of what needs fixing is in our control. We’ll focus on those things to improve our play in other games.”

The Irish are loaded with young talent, including the top freshman recruit in the country in Cortney Fortunato, but lack experience. On such a young team, Gargan said she uses her status as an upperclassman to make sure the team stays loose and has fun.

“As much as possible, I try to have fun while playing,” Gargan said. “Much of what we do requires us to be very focused, but I like to offer that reminder, especially to our younger players, that we don’t have to be totally serious all the time. A smile every once in a while is always a good thing.”

Gargan will try to bring that attitude Saturday, when the Irish host Stony Brook at 8 p.m.

Contact Alex Wilcox at awilcox1@nd.edu

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