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ND Women’s Lacrosse

Notre Dame to welcome Boston College

| Thursday, February 18, 2016

The No. 9-ranked Irish are set to begin this season’s conference slate as they host a longtime rival, No. 11 Boston College, on Sunday.

The Irish (2-0) will usher in this season’s ACC competition with their second game of a four-match homestand. It will also mark their first home matchup at Arlotta Stadium this season, as their match against Stanford was played indoors due to the weather.

Fresh off their 13-9, come-from-behind victory against No. 17 Stanford in which the Irish scored eight straight goals to close the game, Notre Dame’s potent offensive attack will be matched by a talented Boston College forward corps. The Eagles have played two games this season, an 18-9 drubbing of cross-town rival Boston University and a 19-6 victory over Holy Cross. In their two games, the Eagles displayed a knack for offensive efficiency, compiling a .507 shooting percentage as a team. Of their 73 total shots attempted, 55 of them found their mark, and 37 managed to find the back of the net.

Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny acknowledged Boston College’s impressive percentages, though she expressed confidence in her defense’s ability to prepare to oppose the Eagle’s talented offensive attack.

“Right now we’re practicing every day against one of the best offenses in the country,” Halfpenny said. “Day in and day out, we’re working against shooters like [senior attacker Rachel Sexton], who is above 50 percent, [junior attacker Cortney Fortunato], who’s at 50 percent this year, and [junior attacker Heidi Annaheim], who’s above 50 percent. Our shooters prepare us for our opponents.”

Halfpenny said her team’s challenging early schedule is a source of excitement and an opportunity to improve as a team.

“We’re excited,” Halfpenny said. “We’re excited to be better this week; we’re excited to take what we learned from Stanford. We have a lot of fine tuning to go and getting that test against Stanford, who was outstanding and who is absolutely an NCAA tournament team in my opinion. Now we know that we have BC, who made a deep run into the tournament, waiting for us. Our focus remains on us; there isn’t too much emotional thought. When the first whistle goes, we’ll go to work.”

rish graduate student defender Barbara Sullivan possesses the ball during Notre Dame’s 10-8 home loss to Louisville on April 19.Amy Ackermann |The Observer

rish graduate student defender Barbara Sullivan possesses the ball during Notre Dame’s 10-8 home loss to Louisville on April 19.

The Irish defense will be spearheaded as always by graduate student defender Barbara Sullivan. The two-time All-American was named Lacrosse Magazine’s national player of the week Tuesday following Notre Dame’s win against Stanford.

Halfpenny praised not only Sullivan’s efforts on the ball but also her ability to inspire and lead her teammates even when away from the play or during practice.

“I think the reality is when you use what Barbara does,” Halfpenny said. “She comes in and plays at such a strong level, but the reality is that she plays each play at a time and everyone wants to play for Barbara.

“Talk about a kid that celebrates her teammates; she celebrates her teammates, she champions every single one from top to bottom,” Halfpenny said. “She’s such an exciting leader; I would say she absolutely leads with her actions, but more importantly, she leads with her heart. That’s the way you get followers. She’s here to serve her team, and that’s the cardinal rule. If you’re a great leader you serve your team, and that’s what Barbara does. People play a little bit harder for Barbara.”

Sullivan’s leadership and defensive ability will both be in high demand Sunday as the Irish seek to shut down potent Boston College attacks Caroline Margolis and Sam Apuzzo, who had four goals apiece in the Eagles’ rout of Boston University last weekend.

The Irish will attempt to get a head start to the top of the conference standings as they host Boston College at Arlotta Stadium this Sunday at noon.

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