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ND Women’s Lacrosse: Irish host Loyola looking to rebound

Andy Ziccarelli | Thursday, March 20, 2008

It has already been a trying season for the Irish, one that has seen its fair share of unexpected and close losses.

After a 3-0 start, Notre Dame (5-3, 0-1 Big East) has lost three of its last five, including a 16-13 overtime heartbreaker against Syracuse on Sunday that opened up the Big East schedule on a sour note for the Irish.

The Irish can turn the tide this weekend, though, when they host Loyola (3-5) at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Though Notre Dame won’t be able to accomplish its goal of an undefeated home season, it can erase some bad memories from its struggles in the last few weeks.

In their most recent loss to the Orange, the Irish dominated the second half, overcoming a three-goal halftime deficit before giving up a late goal to send the game to overtime. The Notre Dame attack faltered in the extra period, failing to score any goals.

That loss brought back memories of a 14-13 loss at Oregon on March 6, a game in which the Ducks scored a pair of goals in the final 15 seconds to upend the Irish.

Despite its recent struggles, Notre Dame’s 15.1 goals per game rank among the best in the Big East and in the country. Junior Jillian Byers is one of the nation’s leading scorers with 35 goals, though she has been held under four goals in each of Notre Dame’s last two games – the time that had happened all year.

Byers paces the Irish attack, but with versatile scorers like seniors Caitlin McKinney and Heather Ferguson playing along quick freshman Shaylyn Blaney, Notre Dame can score from multiple angles.

“When we are on our game, we are very difficult to stop,” Coyne said.

Despite her team’s talent, Coyne said she thinks the losses this season were avoidable.

“Some players have not implemented aspects of the game plan, and that has held us back,” she said.

Saturday’s game will be played at 1 p.m. indoors at the Loftus Center. The Irish will then resume play at Hofstra on March 25.