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ND Women’s Lacrosse

Colgan, Virginia shut down ND

| Monday, April 7, 2014

Draw controls and goaltending proved to be the deciding factor in No. 6 Notre Dame’s 13-8 loss to No. 16 Virginia on Saturday.

The Irish (8-5, 1-4 ACC) struggled to get in a groove throughout the game, as Virginia (7-6, 1-3) dominated draw control and time of possession. Without many opportunities to score, Notre Dame still managed to outshoot the Cavaliers, 31-27. The Irish converted only 25.8 percent of their shots into goals, though, well below their season average of 43.3.

“We can’t have excuses,” Irish coach Christine Halfpenny said. “We have to tighten it up and work for better angles to get high-percentage shots.”

Cavaliers senior goalkeeper Liz Colgan ranks fifth in the country in terms of saves per game with an average of 10.0, and she added 16 more saves to her total Saturday. The Irish took 16 shots in the first period, yet only one got by Colgan, an unassisted goal by Irish freshman Cortney Fortunato.

Irish junior midfield Caitlan Gargan sprints up the field  during Notre Dame’s 25-1 victory over Cincinnati on Feb. 12. Gargan had an assist in Saturday’s loss to Virginia.Emmet Farnan

Irish junior midfield Caitlin Gargan sprints up the field during Notre Dame’s 25-1 victory over Cincinnati on Feb. 12. Gargan had an assist in Saturday’s loss to Virginia.

“When you go 1-for-16, that’s going to be a tough way to win any game, and we have to tighten that up against a good goalkeeper,” Halfpenny said.

“[Colgan’s] been doing this. If you look back at what she does, she has had some crazy days in goal keeping Virginia in the game. She absolutely, I don’t want to say single-handedly, but 11 saves in a half against a team that shoots 44 percent was huge.”

Notre Dame went into halftime down 4-1, but came out of the locker room poised to make it a competitive game. Irish senior midfielder Margaret Smith scored on a feed from sophomore midfielder Stephanie Toy to open up the second half and cut the deficit to two. Virginia answered with two successive goals before Fortunato added her second goal of the game on an assist from junior midfielder Caitlin Gargan with 26:13 left to make it a 6-3 game.

From that point, the Cavaliers scored four consecutive goals in four minutes, including two by junior attack Courtney Swan, to put Virginia up 10-3.

“They had a four-goal run, and I attribute that to the draw,” Halfpenny said. “They won the draw 13-4 [in the second half], but I give a lot of credit to my team even though they lost the draw in the second half they still played them to a 9-7 score. Credit my defense on that. They were able to come up with the ball in big situations, but also we have to control the ball better on offense.”

Despite trailing the entire game, and at times facing large deficits, Notre Dame outscored Virginia 9-7 score in the second half. After only scoring once in the first half, Halfpenny credited the improved offense with better communication and more aggressive play.

“Our offense started communicating more to one another and we were able to get second and third chances,” Halfpenny said. “Some of those goals came off a second and third chance where we were able to get the ball back after a shot on goal as well as communicating more to one another, and attacking a little more.”

Notre Dame has now dropped back-to-back home games. The Irish face another tough test with No. 9 Duke coming to town Friday. In order to get back in the win column, Halfpenny said she needs to see more from her offense.

“We have to be organized and fluid for 60 minutes,” Halfpenny said. “There was some brilliant-looking offense, but we have to be more consistent. Our youth is going to continue to work on that.”

The Irish will look to salvage their three-game homestand in a Friday-night showdown with Duke at 7 p.m. at Arlotta Stadium.

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