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ND Women’s Lacrosse

Irish build on strong first half to topple Ohio State

| Wednesday, March 8, 2017

No. 8 Notre Dame extended its winning streak to eight games, holding on through a tense second half to defeat Ohio State 16-13.

Mistakes characterized the opening minutes of the game, as Notre Dame (8-1, 2-0 ACC) allowed the shot clock to expire without taking a shot after the opening draw, before the Buckeyes (5-2) lost the ball out of bounds under no pressure on the ensuing clear.

Irish freshman midfielder Savannah Buchanan dodges three Ohio State defenders during Notre Dame's 16-13 win over the Buckeyes on Tuesday at Arlotta Stadium.Kathleen Donahue | The Observer

Irish freshman midfielder Savannah Buchanan dodges multiple Ohio State defenders during Notre Dame’s 16-13 win over the Buckeyes on Tuesday at Arlotta Stadium.

However — after just under eight scoreless minutes — when the first goal came, more soon followed. It was the Irish who scored the opener through senior midfielder Casey Pearsall, and within a minute they led 3-0, as sophomore attack Nikki Ortega and sophomore midfielder Samantha Lynch each scored soon after after draw controls from freshman midfielder Erin McBride.

The scoring glut continued as the Buckeyes got in on the act too, and just over six minutes after the opener the score was 6-3 in Notre Dame’s favor. The Irish added two more in four minutes before the scoring slowed down again, and by halftime Notre Dame led 11-5. Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny said her entire team deserved credit for the first-half offensive performance.

“I just feel like the team was just moving the ball really well,” Halfpenny said. “Again our defense really fueled some great offensive fast break opportunities and we didn’t really allow Ohio State’s defense to settle us. We just kept pushing it and kept moving the ball through a lot of people’s hands and were able to find the ball really nicely. It’s probably some of our best movement and ball movement in that half, we were really happy with that. It looked great.

“We talked about contesting every ground ball, and the team did such a great job of that that even the ones that didn’t fall, we got that second chance opportunity battling for the ground ball and created a scoring play out of it.”

In the second half, the Buckeyes slowly worked their way back into the game as Notre Dame struggled to get much going offensively. Ohio State scored the opening three goals of the second half and five of the first six goals in the period as they closed the gap to just two goals at 12-10 with 18:54 remaining.

After 10 scoreless minutes, the Irish restored their lead back to four goals as Pearsall and sophomore defender Hannah Proctor each scored, but Buckeyes freshman midfielders Sage Darling and Liza Hernandez quickly canceled out the Irish pair. The Irish, however, scored two more inside the final five minutes and although the Buckeyes grabbed one back, the Irish win was secured with a 16-13 final score when Pearsall grabbed the ensuing draw.

“We did enough,” Halfpenny said. “We made stops; we made some critical stops in that under-seven minute period. We got two critical stops in about three minutes and those two stops fueled an 8-meter goal by Hannah Proctor and another goal by [junior midfielder] Molly Cobb. So that was really big, to not allow them to get within one and get momentum. That was huge for us.”

Notre Dame’s eight game winning streak is tied for the third-longest in program history. The Irish are currently just two wins away from the program record of 10, achieved twice, in 2004 and 2013 to open the season. Ortega and freshman Savannah Buchanan each scored three for the Irish, while Buchanan also added four draw controls. Pearsall ended the game with two goals, two assists and four draw controls.

Spring break sees Notre Dame begin a stretch against a variety of top-ranked teams. The Irish will play at No. 10 Princeton and No. 20 Towson before a game at Virginia to finish the week. The Irish also hope to carry their momentum into the following weeks, as they will take on No. 4 Syracuse and return home to face No. 2 North Carolina.

The Irish and the Tigers (4-0, 1-0 Ivy League) will meet at Alumni Stadium, in Princeton, New Jersey, on March 8 at 1 p.m.

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About Daniel O'Boyle

Daniel O'Boyle is a sophomore 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 supports the Philadelphia Eagles because they were good in 2010 and has had to deal with disappointment every year since. He supports the Golden State Warriors because they are good now and will abandon them when they stop being good.

Contact Daniel