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ND Women’s Lacrosse

ND looks to build off win over Duke

| Monday, April 14, 2014

The Irish hit the road for the final time of the regular season for a top-20 contest against No. 16 Ohio State, winner of five straight games.

No. 9 Notre Dame (9-5, 2-4 ACC) is coming off its big, top-10 win over No. 7 Duke on Friday night. After dropping two straight games to Stanford and Virginia prior to knocking off the Blue Devils, senior midfielder Caitlin Gargan said the victory was just as important for the team’s mental state as it was in its record.

“The win over Duke has definitely helped us restore our confidence, which is important for this final stretch of the regular season and into the conference tournament,” Gargan said. “The game itself was close, but we were able to control most aspects of the game helping to prove to ourselves again that we are capable of competing against tough teams.”

Irish senior midfielder Julia Giorgio attempts to slow the Stanford offense during Notre Dame's 11-10 loss March 29.Emily McConville | The Observer

Irish senior midfielder Julia Giorgio (19) attempts to slow the Stanford offense during Notre Dame’s 11-10 loss March 29.

The Buckeyes, meanwhile, are on a streak of their own. They have won their last five games and nine of their last 10.

“They are a skilled team with speed, but one characteristic that distinguishes them is their hustle,” Gargan said. “They’re relentless and pesky all over the field. It always seems that no matter the margin, they’re always in the game. They’re going to force us to work very hard Tuesday night, but we gladly accept the challenge.”

The key to the game, according to Gargan, is patience.

“We need to be patient on both sides of the ball,” Gargan said. “On offense, we will likely see a few different defenses, but we are prepared for them, so we just have to remind ourselves of that so we don’t get out of sorts.

“On defense, we want to put pressure on them, but in a way that they cannot leverage any benefit. We don’t want to create offense for them, so we will plan to be very calculated in our defensive efforts. Each of these comes back to patience.”

One aspect of the game that could prove challenging is one neither team has any control over — the location. Ohio State has won a program-record eight home games at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium this season, and Notre Dame has not been on the road since it beat Villanova on March 23. That said, Gargan said she has faith the bus trip to Columbus, Ohio, isn’t anything her team can’t handle.

“It will be a good change of pace for us,” Gargan said. “The home stand was nice after having so many away games in a very short period of time, but we enjoy traveling together and typically fare well away from Arlotta.

“The routine of an away game is a bit different, but at this point in the season, with so many away games already played, we’ll handle this fine and look forward to the game.”

Gargan said she is equally unconcerned with any worries of team fatigue. Including last weekend’s game against Duke, Tuesday’s game at Ohio State and this weekend’s game against Syracuse, the Irish will play three games in eight days. Gargan said the team was well aware of this happening and has trained itself to be ready for it.

“Fatigue isn’t something we’re worried about right now,” Gargan said. “While we may feel more tired just due to circumstance, between school, travel and the final games, but it shouldn’t affect our play because we have trained ourselves knowing this situation would arise. The workouts all year have been oriented toward combating fatigue in the end, which will allow us to continue to play our best.”

After Friday’s win over Duke, and with a date looming with new No. 1 Syracuse to close out the regular season, Tuesday’s game may seem to have all the earmarks of a trap game, but team discipline will ensure the Irish do not overlook Ohio State, Gargan said.

“Our focus all year has been one game at a time,” Gargan said. “We’ve been disciplined so far in not overlooking games. At this point we have no energy to devote to Syracuse because we have Ohio State to beat first. After we do that, then we will begin to prepare for Syracuse.”

Notre Dame will take on Ohio State at 6 p.m. at Jesse Owens Memorial Stadium in Columbus, Ohio.

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