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Women’s Lacrosse: Trio leads Irish offensively

Joe Meixell | Thursday, April 27, 2006

Irish senior Crysti Foote, freshman Jill Byers and sophomore Caitlin McKinney have led Notre Dame this season as the most successful trio in school history.

They have scored a combined 128 goals and tallied 66 assists this season, and are only the second threesome in Irish history to each score 30 goals in one season. Their 194 points account for over 60 percent of the team’s offense.

Irish coach Tracy Coyne said the three are crucial parts of the attack in all stages – setting up plays, transition, fast breaks and scoring. They have started in all fourteen games this season.

Byers said the ability for the group to work well together stems from Coyne.

“Tracy designs plays and drills around the three of us in games and practice to help us work well together,” Byers said.

Foote has been Notre Dame’s most consistent offensive player, doing her part to set up the attack to help the Irish score.

“[Foote] has the willingness to accept the burden of being the leader on attack,” Coyne said. “She has embraced her role and that has allowed her to excel.”

Foote’s help in leading the attack shows in her ability to score and help others score. And her play was recognized this season when the University Club of Washington, D.C. nominated her for the Tewaaraton Trophy – lacrosse’s equivalent of the Heisman Trophy. Foote ranks second nationally in both goals and points per game.

But on-field play is only one aspect of leading a team. When Notre Dame is done with games or practices, Foote only begins to shine. The senior captains the team and has taken this role to an extra level – working hard to gain the trust and respect of her teammates.

“From our next-best player to the last player off the bench, everyone looks up to Crysti,” Byers said. “I know that I look up to her in so many ways.”

The second part of the trio is freshman Jill Byers. She has been an essential part in the team’s turnaround from their 3-12 performance last year.

Byers has set freshman records in points (59) and goals (41) in her first year.

“Jill has had an enormous impact this season, especially for a freshman,” McKinney said. “She has helped open things up for others on attack because of her skills because she is another person for the defense to have to mark.”

One of the most notable aspects about Byers’ performance this season is her unmistakable potential, Coyne said.

“She still has a lot of room to grow and develop,” Coyne said. “She is learning a lot about the game and herself.”

McKinney is the final part of the trio. She is second on the team in assists and third in goals, but still has been a large part of the attack despite being the only part of the trio not to break a record this season.

“Caitlin has worked so hard this year to make her game better,” Coyne said. “She is learning how to work with her gifts. If you look at game film from last year and then this year, she has so much improvement.”

McKinney has been able to work the ball around in the attack in order to get scoring chances using her quick feet and good passing.

“McKinney is really quick and always sees the right moves like no one else,” Byers said.

The Irish next play Saturday at noon against Syracuse at Moose Krause Stadium.