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ND Women’s Lacrosse

ND bests Virginia Tech for first ACC win

| Monday, March 3, 2014

The No. 12 Irish snapped up their first ACC win with an 18-9 victory over Virginia Tech on Sunday.

Junior midfield Caitlin Gargan attempts to pass the ball during Notre Dame's 25-1 win over Cincinnati in Loftus Sports Center on Feb. 12.Emmet Farnan

Junior midfield Caitlin Gargan attempts to pass the ball during Notre Dame’s 25-1 win over Cincinnati in Loftus Sports Center on Feb. 12.

Irish coach Christine Halfpenny said the first conference win is a confidence boost going forward in her team’s first season in the ACC.

“I think obviously we’re really excited to get that win under our belt,” Halfpenny said, “I’m really proud of the girls with the way they did it. They really played our style of lacrosse and it was a really balanced effort playing at the peak of speed and the style that really exhibits all our strength. I give a lot of credit for the players to come out and play and get our first victory in the ACC and get us some confidence moving forward.”

Notre Dame (3-2, 1-2 ACC) pulled ahead early against the Hokies (3-2, 0-1) with a goal from sophomore attack Rachel Sexton just 30 seconds into the game. The Irish scored four more times in the following six minutes to take a 5-1 lead. A single goal from Virginia Tech lowered the gap to four with 23:21 remaining in the first half.

The Hokies put four more shots past junior goalkeeper Allie Murray in the first half, but the Irish offense proved too much for Virginia Tech. Sexton scored twice more before the end of the half, freshman attack Cortney Fortunato notched three in the first period and junior midfielder Caitlin Gargan closed out the half with two goals in the final 2:05. Single goals from freshman midfielder Alex Dalton, freshman attack Grace Muller and sophomore midfielder Hannah Hartman brought the score to 11-5 at the end of the first half.

The Virginia Tech defense was able to slow the Irish a bit in the second period but could not prevent seven more goals for Notre Dame before the end of regulation.  The Hokies started the second period with three goals in the first eight minutes, two on free-position shots, to bring the score to 11-8 with 22:39 remaining. The Irish responded with a 7-1 run in the remainder of the game to bring the final score to 18-9 and give the team its first ACC victory.

Gargan notched two more tallies in the second period, while sophomore midfielder Brie Custis, sophomore attack Kiera McMullan, freshman midfielder Casey Pearsall and senior attack Lauren Sullivan each got their first and only goals of the game. Muller rounded out the scoring for the Irish for her second goals of the game.

Murray had six saves in the first half before ceding her position to freshman goalkeeper Liz O’Sullivan, who recorded three stops in the second half. The Irish outshot the Hokies 35-26.

Notre Dame’s next contest will be against rival Northwestern on Wednesday. Halfpenny said Notre Dame’s victory against the Hokies will help carry them into the matchup.

“Seeing we have the ability to use different players to score is huge going to Northwestern,” Halfpenny said. “We have a huge battle with them … and having that nice offensive flow is going to help against Northwestern.”

Halfpenny said the early exposure Notre Dame has gained against top teams so early in the season will give the Irish a leg up against the Wildcats (3-0).

“We were exposed to hard teams early and we learn to make adjustments,” Halpenny said. “We’re going to use that going forward to Northwestern.”

The Irish are back in action Wednesday when they face Northwestern in Evanston, Ill. at 9:30 p.m.

Contact Katie Heit at kheit@nd.edu

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