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ND Women’s Lacrosse

Orange too much for Irish

| Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Top-ranked Syracuse’s 8-0 run to open the game proved too much for No. 13 Notre Dame to overcome, as the Orange topped the Irish 18-10 on Senior Day.

“There was a little too much watching from our team,” Irish coach Christine Halfpenny said. “We didn’t come out the way we wanted to come out. They jumped out 8-0 over the first 12 minutes, but the first eight minutes really got us on our heels. That was obviously disappointing. We were able to regroup and get in to a little bit of a rhythm after that. Losing the draw control and putting ourselves in that hole was the difference.”

Irish senior attack Kaitlyn Brosco races past a defender during Notre Dame’s 18-10 loss to Syracuse on Saturday at Arlotta Stadium. Michael Yu | The Observer

Irish senior attack Kaitlyn Brosco races past a defender during Notre Dame’s 18-10 loss to Syracuse on Saturday at Arlotta Stadium.

The Irish lost the draw control 22-8, including six of the first seven draws, continuing a troubling trend that has plagued the team all season. In search of a spark, Halfpenny turned to sophomore defenseman Austin Pruitt to take the draws. Pruitt proved capable but Halfpenny said it is something the squad will continue to work on.

“We’re very young in that area and we’ve been up and down,” Halfpenny said. “I’m really proud of our efforts to work in other options. Getting Austin Pruitt in there, who was able to come in and take the draw for us was really important.”

“It’s an area we’re learning and growing in right now. We lost [junior defenseman] Barbara Sullivan six games in, and it’s really about continuing to work on the skill set everyday.”

After withstanding Syracuse’s opening barrage, Notre Dame (9-7, 2-5 ACC) matched the Orange 10-10, and held the third-ranked scoring offense scoreless for the first 17:36 of the second half.

“We just got back to our game plan,” Halfpenny said. “The first 10 minutes we went rogue. Everyone had their moments; no one was immune. The final 45 minutes the team dug in, focused on our game plan and played tough-nosed, aggressive lacrosse, which was huge. Our defense did a really nice job of transitioning the ball up field, and we started to grow confidence in our game. It wasn’t an adjustment, just executing.”

Irish senior attack Kaitlyn Brosco led the team with four points on one goal and three assists. Brosco has emerged as a dynamic offensive threat of late, tallying 12 points in the last three games. Freshmen attack Cortney Fortunato added two goals to her team-leading total of 41, as did sophomore attack Kiera McMullan and freshman midfielder Casey Pearsall.

Along with the emergence of Brosco, Halfpenny took away several positives from Saturday’s loss, including winning the ground ball and turnover battle.

“We battled,” Halfpenny said. “We never look completely defeated. We might’ve looked a little shocked out of the gate, but we battled back. We found more ground balls, we had fewer turnovers, [freshmen goalie] Liz O’Sullivan was able to come in and make seven saves. We need to pump up our scoring percentage, get better looks and look for more opportunities, especially second and third opportunities off shots.”

Saturday’s loss marked the end of the regular season for the Irish. The team will enter their inaugural ACC Tournament seeded seventh, and which pits them against Syracuse in its first round game Thursday.

Notre Dame will look to avenge their Senior Day defeat in the quarterfinals of the ACC Tournament at 3 p.m. in Boston College’s Alumni Stadium in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

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