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ND Women’s Lacrosse

Irish set to finish regular season against Buckeyes

| Friday, April 22, 2016

No. 10 Notre Dame will close out its challenging regular season with a trip to Ohio Stadium where it will face No. 9 Ohio State on Saturday.

The Irish (11-5, 4-3 ACC) will be hoping to end the season on a high note after four losses in their last six games, including Monday’s 5-4 defeat at the hands of undefeated No. 4 USC. The Buckeyes (11-2, 2-1 Big Ten) will face a quick turnaround after Thursday’s game against Rutgers, but Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny said the Buckeyes will be coming into the game with confidence.

“They have a winning record right now, and there’s a lot to be said about winning breeding confidence,” Halfpenny said. “The wins that they’ve gotten have bred a lot of confidence. They’ve also had a lot of one-goal games. They return some outstanding players in Cian Dabrowski, Molly Wood at the center draw circle is a big tall kid who does a great job off-ball, and they have Rainey Hodgson: they’re like a little three-headed monster on offense and they’ve done an outstanding job of commanding the offense. They do what they do, they’re disciplined and they’re convicted. That makes them a triple threat.

“Then when you look at their defense, they have a packed-in defense, so you see less fouls and less caused turnovers, but it’s aggressive. So while it might be looser than what you’d see at a high-pressure Syracuse or Notre Dame defense, it’s definitely still incredibly physical and aggressive. And that’s really helped their goalkeeper this season to limit the shots they’re seeing and giving up the ones they want to give up.”

Irish senior defender Brie Custis attempts to stop an offensive charge in the Notre Dame’s 5-4 loss to USC on Wednesday at Arlotta Stadium.

Irish senior defender Brie Custis attempts to stop an offensive charge in the Notre Dame’s 5-4 loss to USC on Wednesday at Arlotta Stadium.

The game will be the eighth time in their last nine games that the Irish have faced an opponent currently ranked in the top-15. Halfpenny said her team is always ready to consistently play top teams.

“I think that we’ve always had a tough schedule,” Halfpenny said. “This isn’t new. Even when we were in the Big East we always had a solid rigor outside our conference, playing Northwestern and Stanford and Ohio State. The difference now is that since we’ve transitioned to the ACC, that’s added another three or four top teams, not just top 20 but top 10 teams. So we’ve been prepping for this, but more than anything, because we have such a [veteran] team, they understand our opponents and they’ve been ready for it.

“It’s not like we’re thinking ‘How do you keep going?’ You have to keep going. And since we didn’t have all these great opportunities like USC and Princeton last year, we get them this year. And I think the way the team has approached this year’s schedule is that we’re getting all of these opportunities. So it’s not that we have to play, it’s that we get another opportunity and we keep building our resume. And that’s more inspiring and motivating to them than daunting and pressure like. So it’s very exciting for us because that’s how we want them to approach it.”

The Irish and the Buckeyes last met at the first round of last year’s NCAA tournament, where the Irish used a run of seven consecutive goals to advance with a 13-11 win. Halfpenny said this game late in the regular season could have consequences for this year’s tournament.

“We’re going to have our work cut out for us with a team who wants this game,” Halfpenny said. “It’s obviously our final regular season game and it’s a ranked opponent with a solid RPI opportunity on Saturday. We both want it and I think it’s exciting to see two big-five midwest programs battling to show something to the NCAA committee. For us though we’ll just take this one game at a time and one minute at a time to play our game.”

Opening draw at Ohio Stadium will be at 3 p.m. Saturday.

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About Daniel O'Boyle

Daniel O'Boyle is a senior sports writer living in Alumni Hall, majoring in Political Science. He is currently on the Notre Dame Women's Basketball, Men's Tennis and Women's Soccer beats. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Daniel spends most of his free time attempting to keep up with second-flight English soccer and his beloved Reading FC. He believes Lonzo Ball is the greatest basketball player of all time.

Contact Daniel