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ND WOMEN’S LACROSSE: Irish seek redemption on road

Matt Puglisi | Friday, April 22, 2005

Maybe a change of scenery will help – it certainly couldn’t hurt.

After recording a disappointing 1-4 mark on a five-game homestand that concluded with a 14-6 loss to No. 3 Georgetown last Sunday, Notre Dame (3-9, 1-3 Big East) travels to Baltimore, Md. to lock horns with No. 11 Johns Hopkins (9-3) Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m.

Irish coach Tracy Coyne is looking forward to the opportunity to hit the road again.

“Going to Baltimore is always a good trip,” Coyne said. “There will be a lot of people there, and a lot of alumni are going to come back, so that’s exciting. We’ve been home for a couple weeks now – I think we’re well rested and ready to go.”

Including the Blue Jays, all three of the opponents left on the Irish schedule – No. 13 Syracuse and No. 19 Ohio State round out the year – are currently ranked by the Intercollegiate Women’s Lacrosse Coaches Association (IWLCA). However, Coyne doesn’t mind the tough schedule, currently listed as the ninth toughest in the nation. In fact, she prefers it.

“I’m looking forward to our next three games,” Coyne said. “I told the team in the locker room [after the Georgetown game] that I’d much rather be playing teams that are ranked and nationally competitive, because I think we can compete on that level and I would like to see this team prove that they can win at that level.

“Our next three teams are all tough opponents – teams we care about and want to beat. If we can beat someone that matters, it will give us a sense of satisfaction, because we have that feeling of unfulfilled potential [right now].”

The Irish had little trouble with visiting Hoyas in the opening minutes of last Sunday’s game at Moose Krause Stadium. Ripping six shots to Georgetown’s zero and jumping out to a 1-0 advantage on a goal by midfielder Lena Zentgraf, the Irish appeared to be well on their way to giving Big East-leading Georgetown a run for its money.

But looks can be deceiving.

Just over a minute after Zentgraf put Notre Dame in front, Hoya Catherine Elbe knotted the contest at 1-1 and kicked off a streak of eight consecutive Georgetown tallies, staking the Hoyas to a comfortable 8-1 halftime lead.

While attack Crysti Foote netted a hat trick in the second half alone and midfielder Kaki Orr and attack Mary McGrath chipped in with single goals, the Irish were unable to get back into the contest, eventually falling 14-8.

“I was not happy with how the game went, I’m going to be honest about it,” Coyne said. “I think that [Hoya goalie] Sarah Robinson is a good goalie, but we were shooting right at her – we weren’t placing our shots. It wasn’t like they were forcing low-percentage shots – we were getting wide-open looks. If you’re getting that wide open, you should be scoring.”

Sunday’s game against the Irish will wrap up a busy week for the host Blue Jays – Johns Hopkins knocked off Towson 15-10 Tuesday evening and hosts No. 1 Northwestern this evening before Notre Dame comes to town.

With the season quickly winding down, thoughts turn to next year and returning the Irish to their place among the nation’s lacrosse elite.

“I think that we have a bright future,” Coyne said. “I think maybe losing six starters and three All-Americans has been more difficult to replace that we anticipated … [but] we have a lot of younger players gaining a lot of experience. We definitely know how to compete.”