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ND WOMEN’S LACROSSE: Vandy up next for red-hot laxers

Michael Bryan | Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The No. 11 Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team has defeated six ranked teams this season, and will look to add a seventh victim to its record today at No. 15 Vanderbilt. The Commodores will host the last away game of the year for the Irish in Nashville at 4 p.m. The Commodores (9-4), currently in second place in the American Lacrosse Conference, have met their high preseason expectations this year. But they’ve had mixed results against top competition, dropping three of their four matches to high ranked teams. Vanderbilt suffered blowouts against No. 1 Northwestern and No. 4 Duke but upset No. 6 Penn State. Vanderbilt will look to avenge last year’s heartbreaking 12-11 defeat in South Bend. A Jillian Byers goal with just 18 seconds left in the game gave the Irish the victory.Vanderbilt is led offensively by junior Margie Curran and senior Kendall Thrift. Curran leads the Commodores in points with 37 goals and 13 assists, and Thrift has 24 goals and 23 assists on the season.”Both teams have a lot riding on this game,” Irish coach Tracy Coyne said. “They’re a great team and we expect a close game.”In Nashville, the Irish (11-3) will look to use their momentum from Saturday’s 13-8 win over No. 9 Georgetown, a victory Coyne called “one of the biggest in the history of the program.” The Hoyas were previously undefeated in seven years of Big East conference play before dropping the match to the Irish at home.The Irish, who have scored 29 goals in the past two games, hope to continue their recent offensive success against Vanderbilt. “Hopefully our fast-break offense can take over,” Coyne said. “We’re trying to keep the game up-tempo with quick passes.”Notre Dame racked up the weekly lacrosse honors after the historic victory, with junior Caitlin McKinney and senior Meghan Fitzpatrick receiving individual awards.Fitzpatrick, a defender, was named Big East defensive player of the week after a spectacular performance guarding Georgetown star Coco Stanwick. Facing the senior All-American, Fitzpatrick held Stanwick to just one goal and an assist while also collecting five ground balls and forcing two turnovers.McKinney was named Womenslax.com player of the week for her offensive efforts in the Georgetown game. Against the Hoyas, McKinney tallied a goal and four assists. With the points, McKinney extended her scoring streak to 36 games, tying the Notre Dame record.Coyne, in her 11th season coaching the Irish, was also named U.S. Lacrosse coach of the week after the victory.”It was nice recognition for us, not only the individual players getting honors they deserve, but as a team being recognized for our performance,” Coyne said.The Vanderbilt match begins the last week of the regular season for the Irish. Notre Dame, currently in a three-way tie for first in the Big East, will play its final home game Saturday in a crucial conference match against No. 18 Rutgers.