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Women’s Lacrosse: Irish blow out Lehigh, 20-4

Jay Fitzpatrick | Thursday, March 9, 2006

Freshman attack Jill Byers scored the first Irish goal just 17 seconds into Wednesday’s game against Lehigh.

Notre Dame (5-0) then went on to score 19 more in a 20-4 blowout of the Mountain Hawks (1-2) at the Loftus Center.

Notre Dame scored six unanswered goals to start the contest, holding visiting Lehigh scoreless for the first 10 minutes of play. When the Mountain Hawks finally did score, the Irish were able to kill their momentum with 6-0 and 5-0 runs after each of their two first half goals.

Lehigh’s third and fourth goals were the only pair scored consecutively by the Mountain Hawks, but both were scored on a freshman goalie with many substitutes in the game. Goals by Irish reserves Caitlin McKinney, Alicia Billings and Caitlin Lucas – the first of her career – put the final score at 20-4.

Byers had the best game of her short career – scoring five goals and earning four assists in the win. Her nine points gave her the Irish freshman record for points in a game and tied the record for most points in a home game set by Lael O’Shaughnessy in 1998 and Kerry Callahan in 1996.

Senior Crystie Foote added to the win with three goals and four assists of her own, giving her a total of 38 points in five games this season. Foote’s eight points against the Mountain Hawks tied the Notre Dame record for points in a half set by Callahan in 1997.

But Irish coach Tracy Coyne credited this win to the team as a whole.

“This game was more about the team as a whole,” Coyne said. “The focus was definitely on tactics instead of individual performance.”

Coyne said she believed this goal was accomplished, especially through the play of the Irish defense.

The Irish topped the Mountain Hawks 26 to 14 on ground balls controlled and managed 17 out of 20 clears.

Notre Dame won the turnover battle as well, causing 13 turnovers to Lehigh’s five, and as a team turned the ball over 12 fewer times than the Mountain Hawks.

The defense, led by Meaghan Fitzpatrick and Kerry Van Shura, was able to shut down the Lehigh attack, allowing only eight total shots on goal. The Irish goalies, Carol Dixon in the first half and Erin Goodman in the second, were able to prevent a Lehigh comeback.

Coyne was very proud of the effort put forth by her defense.

“We had solid pressure throughout the game, starting with forcing turnovers that gave us back the ball,” Coyne said. “We pressured them at all levels.”

The Irish were able to outplay Lehigh using either fast breaks or working the ball around. Stick control and accurate passing enabled the offense to keep the ball out of Lehigh’s hands, especially in the second half.

The Irish were able to move the ball quickly to the attack and from there gained numerous scoring opportunities, scoring five unassisted goals.

The Irish were able to work on several of the things Coyne said the team needed to improve on, but not all.

“This team didn’t pressure us at the midfield as much as Cornell, and that’s one of the things we worked on for this game,” Coyne said. Notre Dame beat Cornell 17-15 March 5.

The Irish will next take the field against James Madison Sunday at noon at the Loftus Center.