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Women’s Lacrosse: Duke invades Loftus

Michael Bryan | Thursday, April 5, 2007

Notre Dame is 1-8 all time against Duke, but it has a chance to change that today.

The No. 4 Blue Devils will invade the Loftus Center today at 4 p.m. for a showdown with No. 11 Notre Dame.

The Irish (9-2) bring a four-game winning streak into the game – their eighth of the year against a ranked team.

Duke (9-1) visits South Bend on a five-game winning streak of its own, highlighted by last Saturday’s thrilling 19-18 sudden-death overtime win over No. 5 Virginia.

The Blue Devils won a thriller last year in Durham, 11-10.

Duke will challenge the Irish defense with one of the best offenses in the nation, averaging almost 16 goals per game.

Junior attacker Carolina Cryer leads the Duke offense with 35 goals and 9 assists. Senior attacker Kristen Waagbo, recently named ACC player of the week, has also had a strong season with 24 goals and 21 assists.

But the Irish have two players of the week of their own. After wins over Connecticut and Duquesne, sophomores Jillian Byers and Alicia Billings were named offensive and defensive Big East players of the week, respectively.

Byers tallied four goals and an assist in both games last weekend for a total of 10 points on the week. Billings scored three goals in the two games, and she also grabbed six ground balls and forced three turnovers.

The Irish have found success lately with impressive defensive play and balanced offensive production. Over the four-game winning streak, the Notre Dame defense has allowed an average of just seven goals per game.

In addition, several Notre Dame players have assisted leading scorers Caitlin McKinney (32 goals this season) and Byers in the offensive scoring. Senior Meghan Murphy and sophomore Jane Stoeckert have recorded points in every game of the winning streak, and seniors Kaki Orr and Lena Zentgraf have been equally impressive.

Notre Dame vs. California

The Irish will be tested by a solid California team Saturday at 1 p.m. The hard-luck Golden Bears enter the Loftus Center with a 5-3 record, with two of those losses against ranked opponents in overtime.

California is looking to rebound from a heartbreaking 9-8 overtime loss at Ohio State and pick up its first road win of the season. Struggling to score on the road, the Golden Bears also lost to Vanderbilt 9-6 in Nashville.

Defense has fueled Cal’s success, with the Golden Bears giving up an average of just 8.25 goals per game on the season. Senior Laura Cavallo leads the team offensively with 19 goals and nine assists.