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ND WOMEN’S LACROSSE: Irish set to welcome pair of Big East foes

Matt Puglisi | Friday, April 1, 2005

Notre Dame may only have seven of 15 regular season contests under its belt, but for the Irish (2-5, 0-1 Big East), the must-win games are already beginning.After a 2004 campaign that saw the Irish drop just five contests all season – they finished 12-5 overall – the 2005 squad has already equaled last year’s loss total in its first seven games.For the team to have any hope of making a run at the Big East title and qualifying for the NCAA tournament come May, it must begin to turn the tide. This weekend provides a perfect opportunity when Notre Dame hosts a pair of conference foes in Connecticut (5-2, 0-1 Big East) and Rutgers (3-4, 1-1 Big East).The Irish battle the Huskies tonight at Moose Krause Field at 7 p.m. before facing the Scarlet Knights Sunday at noon.Notre Dame coach Tracy Coyne realizes the impact the next two games will have on the floundering 2005 season.”It’s a huge [weekend],” Coyne said. “At this stage, every game is important, and we can’t be overlooking anyone. We’ve only started Big East play, and this is a big weekend in the conference.”I think if we want to keep our hopes alive for wining our first conference championship and getting the automatic bid, we have to win this weekend.”The Irish haven’t had much trouble disposing of the Huskies in the past, taking five of the six all-time matchups between the teams, including a 14-8 victory last season.Connecticut enters this evening’s game on the heels of a tough 13-12 loss to No. 15 Syracuse on Saturday.Historically, Notre Dame has had a little more trouble with Rutgers, though the Irish have still managed to win three of five all-time meetings. The Scarlet Knights were one of four teams to beat the Irish last year, picking up a hard-fought 7-6 victory in Piscataway, N.J. last April.Rutgers was edged by Old Dominion, 9-8, in its most recent contest on Monday.The Irish take the field tonight after a heartbreaking 10-9 overtime loss to Big East rival Boston College on Saturday – Notre Dame lost by an identical score in overtime to Vanderbilt on March 9.Falling behind 6-2 at halftime, the Irish battled back to tie the game seven minutes, 47 seconds into the second half at six and then traded goals with the Eagles for the remainder of regulation.Although attack Crysti Foote was able to knot the score at nine with only 1:07 left on the clock and force overtime, it was the last time Notre Dame found the back of the net on the afternoon.Eagle Katherine Wagoner’s unassisted tally 26 seconds into the extra period proved to be the difference. In the end, Coyne felt it wasn’t dominating Eagle play, but instead, poor Irish execution that dropped the team to 2-5 on the season.”It wasn’t a situation where talent-wise we were overmatched and we had to play out of our heads,” Coyne said. “I think it was more a case our lack of execution led to mistakes and then Boston College was able to capitalize.”According to Coyne, an inability to prepare for the fiercely competitive contest could also have contributed to the loss.”It’s slightly a one-sided rivalry – [Boston College] had never beaten us, and they have some girls on their team that wanted to come to Notre Dame,” Coyne said. “I thought we were prepared for it, but I just think that they came out with a lot more intensity.”While Notre Dame certainly didn’t expect the 2-5 mark that accompanies its name in the standings, the results this season may not be as bad as the record might indicate.”We lost two overtime games and one game by three goals, so our record could easily be 5-2,” Coyne said. “We’re there – we’re doing some things well, we’re just not finishing the play.”After hosting Connecticut and Rutgers this weekend, the Irish will remain at home for their next three games against Duke, Stanford and Georgetown during the next two weeks.