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ND Women’s Lacrosse

Irish host Orange in ACC contest

| Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Hoping to build on their four-game win streak, the No. 4 Irish will host conference foe No. 6 Syracuse this Saturday at Arlotta Stadium before traveling to Wisconsin to face non-conference opponent Marquette two days later.

The Irish (9-1, 3-1 ACC) look to start the latter half of their conference schedule on a high note as they host a Syracuse squad (7-3, 1-1) that has only just begun their own ACC slate. The Irish have three games remaining against ACC opponents, including matchups against current conference leaders No. 13 Duke and No. 3 North Carolina. Syracuse, by contrast, has four conference games remaining.

The Orange have struggled to find consistency over the past few weeks – the team has not won back-to back-games since a 16-12 victory over No. 15 Northwestern. Since then, they have won games against No. 16 Virginia and Harvard, but have dropped matches against No. 1 Maryland and Boston College.

Junior midfielder Cortney Fortunato rolls the crease during Notre Dame's 16-4 win over Virginia on Saturday at Arlotta Stadium.Grace Tourville | The Observer

Junior midfielder Cortney Fortunato rolls the crease during Notre Dame’s 16-4 win over Virginia on Saturday at Arlotta Stadium.

Despite its inconsistency, senior defender Katherine McManus says that Syracuse is always an entertaining team to match up against.

“Preparing for Syracuse is always fun,” McManus said. “They’re a talented ACC team, and we respect the way they play a lot. As we prepare, we’re preparing to see their best all over the field just so we can be ready and play our best as well.”

According to McManus, that level of performance means depth throughout the roster in terms of offensive efficiency. The Irish have seven players with 10 or more goals this season. McManus attributes the team’s recent success to their ability to incorporate multiple attacking styles in a single game.

“Offensively we’re strong and have a lot of depth and versatility-every attacker on our team is a threat which makes practice really fun,” McManus said. “Within our systems, our attackers have the ability to bring their own style to our game, which makes us individually and as a unit pretty hard to stop. Our attackers really prepare our defense by giving us every look we could possibly see and then some.”

The Irish offense and defense alike have found success in their recent win streak. In four games since their March 5 loss to Louisville, the Irish have scored 76 goals while allowing only 27. Still, McManus insists that the team cannot get complacent. She credits the team’s rigorous preparation cycles for their ability to adapt to the ever increasing strength of their competition.

“We’re definitely moving in a positive direction as we head into the back half of our season,” McManus said. “But, we’ve talked about it all year, with great success also comes big targets on our backs, so we aren’t becoming complacent or taking anything lightly. We focus on great weeks of preparation heading into our games, and that’s been a huge piece of our success as we build confidence and belief in what our team can accomplish this year.

“Also, with each game there, are many positive takeaways that we work to replicate but also negatives that we work incredibly hard to clean up and just get better each game out. Overall, this season has been a lot of fun and I’m excited to face a lot of top ranked teams as we close out our regular season.”

Saturday’s matchup against Syracuse marks the conclusion of a three-game homestand for Notre Dame. Afterwards, it will travel to Milwaukee to close out the month against Marquette (3-5, 0-0 Big East), who has struggled to generate offense so far this season, managing to score more than 10 goals only four times in eight games.

The Irish host Syracuse at noon Saturday at Arlotta Stadium.

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