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Undefeated Irish will look to improve against Ohio, OSU

Matt Mooney | Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Armed with long staffs, the Irish have begun an uprising and the state of Ohio is the next target on the map.

Or at least that’s what it looks like to the rest of the collegiate women’s lacrosse world.

With their next two games against Ohio (5-3) and Ohio State (4-5), the No. 3 Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team (8-0) continues its undefeated season today at home against the Bobcats and then travels to Columbus for a Saturday game against the Buckeyes.

Notre Dame cruises into the game riding a school record twelve-game winning streak extending back to last season. For midfield/attack Kassen Delano, the early season success solidifies in the players’ minds that they are now in the upper echelon of collegiate lacrosse teams.

“We’re not intimidated by the other team anymore,” Delano said. “[We used] to be more intimidated of other teams but now we’re just confident that we can get it done.”

For the Irish to get it done against Ohio, they will need to contain the Bobcat freshman sensation Dana Dobbie, who has scored 11 goals in her last two games and will challenge a proud Irish defense.

“Our defense has been great, but one of our keys to success is going to be shutting her down,” Irish coach Tracy Coyne said. “We feel pretty good defensively how we can match up against her.”

The Irish defense has indeed been stingy this year. Behind a formidable defense led by the goaltending of Carol Dixon, the Irish have allowed their opponents to reach double-digit goal totals only twice all year.

While the defense has helped the Irish to their fast start, the team hopes to avoid becoming a victim of its own success. Coyne knows that while a perfect record is a great achievement, Notre Dame will not be sneaking up on anyone.

“The cat’s out of the bag,” Coyne said. “People know what we’re about and they’ve had an opportunity to see what we can do.”

However, she openly welcomes any and all challengers feeling that adversity only makes her team stronger.

“We know that people are going to bring their best game, and that’s fine,” she said. “I feel that any time we’re put in that competitive situation and we’re tested it’s just gonna make us that much better.”

Notre Dame will have many opportunities for such “competitive situations” as the season draws to a close. After the two non-conference games against the Ohio schools, the Irish will resume Big East competition when they travel to the nation’s capital for a showdown with No. 2 Georgetown. The Hoyas will be the first in a string of brutal season-ending opponents for the Irish. Notre Dame concludes its regular season with games against five of the top 15 teams, including Big East foe and 10th-ranked Syracuse.

But Coyne feels that part of reason the Irish have been so successful is that the team never looks beyond the present.

“I haven’t gotten a sense from the players that they’re looking ahead,” Coyne said. “We haven’t [even] talked about Ohio State at all.”