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ND Women’s Lacrosse

Orange oust Notre Dame

| Friday, April 25, 2014

No. 13 Notre Dame fell in its first-ever ACC tournament game Thursday, dropping a 16-11 decision to No. 1 Syracuse.

It was the second consecutive loss for the Irish (9-8, 2-6 ACC) to the Orange (17-1, 7-1), who defeated Notre Dame, 18-10, last Saturday.

Freshman midfielder Casey Pearsall looks downfield in Notre Dame’s 18-10 loss to Syracuse on Saturday at Arlotta Stadium.Michael Yu | The Observer

Freshman midfielder Casey Pearsall looks downfield in Notre Dame’s 18-10 loss to Syracuse on Saturday at Arlotta Stadium.

Syracuse jumped ahead early Thursday night, scoring the first four goals of the game before junior midfield Caitlin Gargan recorded Notre Dame’s first score of the night. By halftime, the Orange had built an 8-3 lead behind senior attack Alyssa Murray, who scored all five of her goals in the first half. Irish coach Christine Halfpenny said Syracuse deserved credit for coming ready to play from the opening faceoff.

“They’re the number one team in the country for a reason,” Halfpenny said. “[Against Syracuse’s] potent offense, we had to control our possessions a little bit more in the first 15 minutes of the first half. When they were able to go on a 4-0 run, and you lose by five, that’s kind of what you want to look at there.”

After two more Syracuse goals to start the second half, the Irish started to find more success on offense. They scored six of the next seven goals behind Gargan, who had three goals and three assists in total, and freshman midfield Cortney Fortunato, who scored twice. The Irish were never able to get closer than 11-9, however, as Syracuse went on a 5-2 run to end the game. Still, Halfpenny said she was proud of how the Irish stepped up instead of wilting in the face of the early deficit.

“To be honest I think that our team kind of settled in [and] tightened our possessions here and there,” Halfpenny said. “The offense really took advantage of the pressure Syracuse was putting on us, instead of backing up from it. So we were able to execute in our offense more in the second half.”

Freshman goaltender Liz O’Sullivan made just her third start of the season and played all sixty minutes for the Irish, stopping six shots on the night. As the NCAA tournament looms, Halfpenny said the young goalie gained valuable experience against the top-ranked team in the country.

“She did what she could do,” Halfpenny said. “The stops we did get … are definitely something that she’s going to build off of and learn from.”

Sophomore attack Stephanie Toy tries to evade Syracuse senior      defender Kasey Mock in the teams’ first meeting of the year April 19.Michael Yu | The Observer

Sophomore attack Stephanie Toy tries to evade Syracuse senior defender Kasey Mock in the teams’ first meeting of the year April 19.

While Syracuse will move on to the semifinals of the NCAA tournament, Notre Dame must now hope the NCAA selection committee deems them worthy of an at-large bid. Halfpenny said she hopes that the committee considers the quality of their opponents this season when they look at Notre Dame’s resume.

“We’re battle-tested,” Halfpenny said. “We’ve played the best. We’ve played every team that’s won a national title in the past ten years. We’re definitely going to hang our hat on not only that experience, but also what we did against it. There were incredible shining moments in every single game, including our short ACC tournament.”

The NCAA tournament field is announced May 4.

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