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ND Women’s Lacrosse

Irish remain winless in ACC

| Friday, February 28, 2014

Turnovers doomed No. 12 Notre Dame from the beginning as the Irish fell to defending national champion and No. 1 North Carolina, 19-9, in their first road contest of the season Thursday at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, N.C.

“Our team has to learn a really tough lesson regarding turnovers,” Irish coach Christine Halfpenny said. “It’s really tough to win a game with 19 turnovers.”

The game started slow, with limited action for both teams through the first five minutes. North Carolina (5-0, 1-0 ACC) struck first with 25:07 left in the first half, and in the next seven minutes opened up a 5-0 lead that left the Tar Heels comfortably ahead for the remainder of the game.

“Out of the gates, both teams seemed cheeky,” Halfpenny said. “Unfortunately, Carolina got on the board first and gained quick momentum and were able to slow us down.”

North Carolina kept that five-goal cushion for the remainder of the half, going into the locker room up, 9-4. The Tar Heels dominated the second half as well, opening up a 10-point, 17-7 lead with less than eight minutes to play. Notre Dame (2-2, 0-2 ACC) improved at this point, matching North Carolina with two goals each, including the final goal of the game with one second left by senior defender Molly Shawhan on the feed from sophomore attacker Kiera McMullan.

Sophomore attacker Kiera McMullan breaks away from a Michigan defender in Notre Dame’s exhibition game Feb. 8.Zachary Llorens

Sophomore attacker Kiera McMullan breaks away from a Michigan defender in Notre Dame’s exhibition game Feb. 8.

“I am really proud of my team that, in the final eight minutes, we still saw fight,” Halfpenny said. “No matter the way the game went in the end, we scored a goal right at the end, and I think that shows that our youth will continue to grow.”

Even though the Irish lost, Halfpenny said there were still positives to take away from the game.

“At the end of the game we have some obvious things that we can build off,” Halfpenny said. “Our youth continues to impress us, we had strong efforts on the draw from [junior defender] Barbara Sullivan and [senior midfielder] Margaret Smith, and that gets us really excited about what we’re going to see the rest of this season.”

The loss drops Notre Dame back down to .500 and leaves it still searching for its first conference win. That said, Halfpenny stressed the season is still young, and now is not the time to be worried.

“We can’t panic,” Halfpenny said. “We have to learn to play with poise, confidence, and quickly overcome the small mistakes so they don’t lead to big ones.”

The Irish must move on quickly from the loss, as they immediately head to Blacksburg, Va., to take on conference foe Virginia Tech on Sunday. The Hokies dropped their first game of the season to James Madison but have since won their last three, including most recently a 15-8 victory against Longwood.

Virginia Tech is led offensively by redshirt senior attacker Julia Heaps and her 20 points, including 13 goals on 18 shots, and junior attacker Megan Will, with 18 points and two game-winning goals. The Hokies boast freshman Meagh Graham in goal, who is 3-0 on the year and has 27 saves.

After falling to North Carolina on Thursday, Notre Dame will look to get its first ACC victory against Virginia Tech at Thompson Field in Blacksburg, Va., on Sunday at noon.

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