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ND Women’s Lacrosse

Notre Dame set to bounce back against Liberty and Detriot

| Thursday, February 9, 2017

After dropping their season opener to Northwestern on Friday, the Irish are prepared to take on their next challenges in Liberty and Detroit in back-to-back games Friday and Saturday.

The 14-13 loss last week was a nail-biter, but Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny felt there were plenty of positive takeaways for No. 8 Notre Dame (0-1). She was particularly pleased with her team’s success on draw control and its ability to not give up on the game and fight back, despite having to overcome a large deficit at times.

Senior attack Cortney Fortunato surveys the field during Notre Dame's 16-4 victory over Virginia on March 19, 2016 at Arlotta Stadium.Grace Tourville | The Observer

Senior attack Cortney Fortunato surveys the field during Notre Dame’s 16-4 victory over Virginia on March 19, 2016 at Arlotta Stadium.

“The takeaway from Northwestern was how well I think we competed,” Halfpenny said. “We did such great things as far as the draw control, was an area where we know we’re strong and we work hard on it, and we credit our drawers; they do a lot of extra work with our assistant coach Maggie Smith. They’ve been working on hand speed; they’ve been working on placement; they’ve been working on the whole unit, what is the circle doing around them. We’ve seen great success in our practice but you’re beating up on each other so you don’t know, but to come up against a Northwestern team that’s really hung their hat on the draw, that was something that we walked away and said, ‘This is really exciting stuff.’”

Halfpenny said her team’s success at the draw had a big impact on the game.

“We were smart how we possessed the ball, we won it to our side of the [field] and then we also came up with it,” she said. “So, to do that in multiple different ways and have multiple people help us in that possession category was huge and, like I said, the way we competed, we were fighters. I think that obviously two great teams going against each other, the momentum shift is huge, but that’s what makes lacrosse such an exciting game, the momentum shifts. And both teams went on runs, but I felt like our team really fought hard and I think they showcased each other really nicely. Offensively, we know that we have a lot of midfield threats this year and to see the final outcome, the results actually show off all the hard work that our middies brought to the table. It’s nice to see that we have threats at the top, threats at the crease, threats inside, so to see that come together was awesome, and then finally our settled defense.”

Halfpenny was also enthusiastic about the performance she received from multiple players who made their debuts against Northwestern, including sophomore defender Hannah Proctor, sophomore midfielder Sydney Flynn, sophomore midfielder Makenna Pearsall and junior attack Sydney Cardozo. Halfpenny said, going forward, she will rely on them more heavily as they gain experience.

“We had a lot of kids making their debut and the big thing looking ahead is now, first-game jitters are done and out, and that we I think built a lot of belief off of that game,” Halfpenny said. “We learned a lot. You know, we’ll take that loss if it’s a learn at this point in the season. I think we learned that one break here, one play there, it wasn’t one specific thing. It’s just continuing to develop and be a little bit better the next day it gonna get us ready for the next game.”

While the Irish have played both Liberty and Detroit in the past two years, taking down Liberty 25-2 in 2016 and Detroit 17-5 in 2015, the two squads will pose different challenges this year, as their lineups have changed. Halfpenny noted that both teams had strong seasons last year and the Irish need to be ready for the Flames and Titans, especially since they do not have film for either team.

“They both have some top scorers that are back, a couple of top draw control players, ground ball players,” Halfpenny said. “They’re scrappy, they’re feisty. I think that they’re both obviously quality opponents. Liberty’s been rebuilding with their new coach for I think a couple of years now, so to get them to come out here, we’re excited about that. Again, a little bit of comfort, we’ve played them before. But at the same time, I think they’re going to look very different.

“Detroit [was] one goal away from playing in last year’s NCAA tournament. They upset Jacksonville in their conference tournament last year, on to playing Old Dominion and, you know, they were poised and ready. So, we’re very aware of how hungry they are. They have a comfort with us because they’ve played us a couple of times, but they go hard. Both teams have something to prove and we always get everybody’s best game so we have to be prepared for that.”

Both Liberty and Detroit will be opening their seasons against Notre Dame, but Halfpenny said having already played a game gives the team a confidence boost, despite the loss.

“I think that our performance on Sunday gives us confidence,” Halfpenny said. “And I think the way that we prepared gives us confidence. I think the leadership we have gives us confidence. I think the intangible desire to win gives us confidence.”

Notre Dame looks to redeem its loss in their opener when they take on Liberty on Friday at Loftus Sports Center. First draw between the Irish and the Flames is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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About Elizabeth Greason

Elizabeth is a junior studying civil engineering from New York, NY (yes, the actual city). She is a proud resident of McGlinn Hall and is a die-hard Mets and Giants fan. She is the current Sports Editor of The Observer and she also has an obsession with golf that is bordering on unhealthy.

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