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ND Women’s Lacrosse

Irish prepare to finish regular season on the road against Boston College

| Friday, April 21, 2017

After defeating No. 19 Virgina Tech on Senior Day on Saturday, the No. 12 Irish hit the road in another ACC test for the final game of the regular season against No. 15 Boston College.

For Notre Dame (11-5, 4-2 ACC), the key will be stopping the high-powered Eagles offense, which ranks 16th in the country with 14.69 goals per game.

“They’re a strong team,” Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny said. “They’ve got some really talented players sprinkled throughout their roster. They’ve been grinding away, they have a solid record right now, I think they match us at 11-5. They’re sitting at two wins in the conference, but they’ve done some really great things. I think they have the best feeding offense in the conference.”

Irish senior attack Cortney Fortunato cradles the ball and surveys the field during Notre Dame’s 24-9 win over Detroit on Feb. 11 at Loftus Sports Center. Fortunato scored six goals and added four assists in the win.Eddie Griesedieck | The Observer

Irish senior attack Cortney Fortunato cradles the ball and surveys the field during Notre Dame’s 24-9 win over Detroit on Feb. 11 at Loftus Sports Center. Fortunato scored six goals and added four assists in the win.

The Eagles (11-5, 2-4) are also particularly strong at home, boasting a 6-1 record, with their lone loss coming in a defeat to Duke on April 8. But led by sophomore attack and draw control specialist Sam Appuzzo, the program’s fastest ever to achieve 100 points, and junior attack Kenzie Kent, who recently returned from injury but picked up a hat trick and six assists in the Eagles last game against Dartmouth, Boston College poses a test for Notre Dame.

“Their most recent games have been very strong, they took North Carolina to a two-goal game and just beat a good Dartmouth team last week,” Halfpenny said. “So we’ve certainly got a look at them, but we’re excited for the challenge and we’re going to be ready for that opportunity.”

For the Irish, the recent trend has been leaning on the senior class for both leadership and production. Ever since the 16-7 road win over then-No. 4 Syracuse on March 26, in which Notre Dame started seven seniors, the Irish have been sticking with the formula of experience.

Led by senior attack and pre-season All American Cortney Fortunato, who is 13th in the country with 3.31 goals per game, the Irish offense has been potent all year. But fellow seniors midfielder Casey Pearsall and attack Grace Muller have also been major factors for the Irish, as Pearsall leads the team in assists and draw controls and Muller has a team-high four game-winning goals. For Halfpenny, the contributions the seniors have made this year has been a major reason why the Irish are set to finish the season with a winning record in the perennially-competitive ACC for the second straight season, and ultimately why the program has done so well under her leadership.

“I don’t know if there are enough words to describe what they’ve done for this program,” she said. “They’re my first recruiting class and they’ve really bought into the vision and direction I wanted to take this program. They’ve been the pioneers in the ACC … they’ve navigated the waters and every year they’ve done something new and created a first for the program, whether it’s a first win against an ACC school, home or away, or having our first ever NCAA road win against Ohio State back in 2015, they’ve just been remarkable.

“I don’t have enough words to express my gratitude for what they’ve done. They’ve just been awesome. I’ve asked a lot of them and they’ve consistently delivered. I love this group, I really do love them so much. They’re outstanding representatives of the University of Notre Dame and amazing ambassadors for the University of Notre Dame women’s lacrosse program.”

For Halfpenny and her seniors, a win against Boston College would be a great sendoff for the ACC tournament, which begins April 27.

“We’ve gotten a good look at them, we’re going to have to bring great energy, we’re going to have to bring determination, we’re going to have to bring sound fundamentals and we’re going to have to do it for 60 minutes,” Halfpenny said. “We want to play our best game yet, our biggest focus is on being better than the last time out, so we’re going to prepare this week and stay focused, because Boston College is a very talented team.”

The Irish face off against the Eagles on Saturday in Newton, Massachusetts, at the Newton Campus Lacrosse and Soccer Field. Opening draw is set for noon.

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About Tobias Hoonhout

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

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