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ND Women’s Lacrosse: Buckeyes rally falls short

Matt Gamber | Monday, February 25, 2008

No. 11 Notre Dame got off to a quick start and then held off a late Ohio State surge to top the Buckeyes 14-11 in Columbus, Ohio Sunday.

Freshman Shaylyn Blaney and junior Jillian Byers each scored four goals for the Irish, who led 13-5 with less than 14 minutes to play before the Buckeyes scored six goals in a span of eight minutes.

“We let them get back into the game late,” Irish coach Tracy Coyne said. “We need to focus on finishing strong … [because] we lost a little bit of our momentum at the end there.”

Blaney, who began her college career with a bang by scoring 10 goals through three games, got the Irish on the board by scoring three times in the game’s first 10 minutes. Byers and freshman Kaitlin Keena added goals to put the Irish up 5-0 midway through the first half.

“We graduated some key players last year, and everyone has done a good job of stepping into new roles,” said Byers, who leads the Irish with 15 goals through three games. “That’s my role I guess, and I’ve been working really hard to be the person who can put the ball in the back of the net for us.”

Kristen Slahor and Jessica Patane, who each scored three goals, got the Buckeyes on the board with 13 minutes to play in the half, cutting the Irish lead to 5-2. Byers added two more goals for the Irish before halftime, and senior captain Caitlin McKinney also got on the board with the first of her two goals, extending her school-record point streak to 42 games and giving Notre Dame an 8-3 lead heading into the intermission.

“All week we had focused on specific tactics to beat Ohio State,” Coyne said. “It’s been a rivalry since both programs began, and we knew it’d be a tough, physical game.”

The Irish continued to dominate early in the second half, scoring four of the first five goals after the break to extend their lead to 12-4. The two teams traded goals to make it 13-5, and after a five-minute scoreless stretch, the Buckeyes went on a run that cut Notre Dame’s comfortable advantage down to two.

Slahor, Patane and Maghan Beaudrault, who led the Ohio State attack with four goals on the day, each beat Irish goalie Erin Goodman (11 saves) twice during the 6-0 run, which began with Slahor’s goal at 8:56 and ended with Beaudrault’s goal with 1:34 remaining.

Despite the near late-game collapse, the Irish were able to salvage a tough road victory – something not lost on the squad.

“It’s good to get that first win on the road,” Byers said. “Being away from home, not having your home fans, being away from the atmosphere you practice in every day, and the fact that it was really cold out and we had to play outside … we faced a lot of adversity today and it was good to bring our record to 3-0.”

The Irish will hit the road again next weekend when they travel to Palo Alto, Calif., to play Stanford at 1 p.m. Sunday.