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Irish finish preseason with losses

Matt Mooney | Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Notre Dame wrapped up its exhibition season Saturday with a sojourn to the Northeast, the cradle of lacrosse champions. In New Jersey, the Irish faced off against three different teams, including two-time defending national champion and No. 1 Princeton, No. 7 Dartmouth and No. 9 Ohio State.At the Princeton Invitational, the Irish played in an altered format in order to compete against all three teams. The team played one half each against Ohio State and Princeton with a full game against Dartmouth in between.The Irish met with mixed degrees of success. They began the day strong, shutting out Ohio State 10-0 in one half of play. But coach Tracy Coyne was most looking forward to the showdown with Dartmouth.”I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re in the Final Four,” she said. “I don’t think anybody that we face on our schedule is going to be better than Dartmouth.”Dartmouth gave the Irish a competitive match. Notre Dame hung around for much of the match before Dartmouth put the Irish away at the end en route to a 12-8 victory.Dartmouth keyed its attack with an aggressive, penetrating offense and an equally potent trap on defense.”From an attacking standpoint, we struggled when they were double-teaming,” Coyne said. “We had solid opportunities to score against Dartmouth, [but their] attack was getting some opportunities going strong to the cage with their dominant hand.”Coyne felt her players could take away many positives from the match. “To go up against a team like Dartmouth, and to know that we had opportunities, it pointed out some things that we can focus on,” she said. “We were definitely competitive. I was very pleased with the way we came out in the second half.”Senior captain Andrea Kinnik agreed.”It’s a learning experience and it puts us in a good place for the rest of the season,” Kinnik said. “It gave us the experience that we need.”Experience, however, was not enough to carry the Irish past Princeton. Notre Dame was overmatched at times and Princeton was able to handily defeat the Irish in only one half of play, 7-0.Playing against three top 10 teams in one day proved to be a unique pre-season challenge.”It’s definitely intimidating, but you just have to put that behind you,” Kinnik said. “You have to come there to make them adjust to your game instead of you adjusting to their game.”The challenge is one that Coyne feels will prove beneficial during a season in which the Irish face ranked foes early and often. Nine of the preseason top-25 teams appear on the Irish regular season schedule, including Big East foe No. 6 Georgetown. “When you’re trying to establish a winning tradition, you have to learn what it means to consistently compete at a high level,” Coyne said. “We feel confident that we can compete. It’s just a matter of executing when it matters.”Coyne is also looking to her upperclassmen to foster leadership among the younger players, especially as the Irish prepare for their season opener on Feb. 27 at the University of California.”They’re doing a good job of mentoring the younger players and that was lacking last season,” Coyne said. “They’re choosing to go in a certain direction and it’s going to help us be successful this season.”