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ND Women’s Lacrosse

Notre Dame comes from behind to beat Duke on the road

| Tuesday, February 28, 2017

No. 8 Notre Dame continued its recent tear in dramatic fashion on Sunday afternoon in Durham, North Carolina, coming back from a pair of three-goal deficits to down No. 10 Duke, 12-11, and give the Irish a victory their first conference game of 2017.

Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny said she was extremely proud of the effort her team put in against the Blue Devils (4-1, 0-1 ACC), who were at the time ranked one spot above the Irish (6-1, 1-0 ACC).

Irish senior attack Grace Muller looks to make a play during Notre Dame's 21-9 victory over Marquette on Feb. 14 at Loftus Sports Complex.Ann Curtis | The Observer

Irish senior attack Grace Muller looks to make a play during Notre Dame’s 21-9 victory over Marquette on Feb. 14 at Loftus Sports Complex.

“This isn’t the first time that we’ve started a game down, but our players have a sense of confidence and belief about them and a trust in each other,” she said. “I think our team has built some great confidence off of the adjustments we’ve made so far in our six previous games, in which we were able to come out and put a strong second half together, and that’s something we talked about a lot.

“You’ve really gotta weather that storm in the first twenty minutes, and once you get settled in you have to be prepared to make the adjustments, and you have to finish the game. … It’s never really over until the final buzzer goes, and we did a nice job of adjusting and really fighting all the way to the end.”

It was the second time the Irish have played a top-10 team this season, and after going down 3-0 in the first half to the Blue Devils, there were signs that Notre Dame would replicate its loss to No. 11 Northwestern in the opening game of the season.

However, the Irish responded with their own 3-0 run to tie the contest with goals from sophomore attack Samantha Lynch, freshman midfielder Savannah Buchanan and junior midfielder Molly Cobb. Duke’s defense forced a season-high 14 turnovers in a single half and its offense added three more goals though, and at halftime Notre Dame trailed 6-3.

Halfpenny said the team never faltered, largely thanks to maturity and leadership.

“This team is a very good team on the road, they travel well, they’re flexible, but more importantly no matter if we’re home or we’re away they carry themselves extremely well,” she said. “I feel like they’ve been able to approach each situation with a championship mindset and really persevere through whatever is thrown our way. … I think at the end of the day, when you’re prepared and you’re confident and you trust yourself and your teammates, you’re able to continuously battle and let the result take care of itself.”

All year long, the Irish have been consistent with making halftime adjustments and upping their play after the break, and it was no different Sunday. In the second half the Irish only had five turnovers and outshot Duke 19-8 after trailing in that category 14-13 in the first half. Back-to-back Irish goals to cut the Duke lead to 6-5 before the Blue Devils added another. The teams then traded nine goals over the next 10 minutes.

Duke held a slim 11-10 lead as the clock wound down, but with 2:02 left, Lynch scored on a free-position shot to tie the game. Half a minute later, senior attack Grace Muller scored the winner on her only shot of the day to cap the comeback. Senior preseason All-American attack Cortney Fortunato held scoreless, but Halfpenny said it was a plus the Notre Dame’s offensive production came from other sources.

“Everybody is looking for their opportunities … it all depends on the defense we see that day, and who’s got the hot hand, but we’re constantly looking for one another,” Halfpenny said. “I think that’s something we’re obviously excited to build off of, when we’re able to have a number of other players contribute to the goals.”

While this marks the best win of the relatively young Irish season, Halfpenny said the team is ready to build on it moving forward.

“We know Duke well, they know us well, they’re an outstanding team, so to walk away and know that we were able to hit the road and be serious about this business trip and do all of our preparedness and come ready, I think that’s huge,” she said. “We’ll celebrate this one today, and tomorrow we’ll be turning the page and focusing on our first ACC home game against Louisville.”

The Irish play the Cardinals on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Arlotta Stadium.

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About Tobias Hoonhout

Toby is a junior PLS/Economics double major from Smithtown, New York.

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