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Women’s Lacrosse: Laxers dominate Delaware

Matt Gamber | Friday, March 14, 2008

After a grueling week in California, the Irish looked impressive in their return home, never trailing during a 16-8 victory over Delaware yesterday.

No. 12 Notre Dame (5-2) scored the game’s first six goals and held the visiting Blue Hens scoreless through the first 17 minutes. After the Irish opened up a 6-0 lead at the midway point of the first half, Delaware never got closer than four goals.

“We did dominate pretty much from the opening possession,” coach Tracy Coyne said. “That’s exactly what we wanted to do in terms of moving forward after what we learned about ourselves in California.”

Senior captain Caitlin McKinney scored four goals, extending her point-scoring streak to a school-best 46 games, while senior Heather Ferguson and junior Jillian Byers each netted three goals for the Irish. Sophomore Gina Scioscia picked up five assists, tallying five points for the second straight game and setting a school-record for most assists in a home game.

Byers, who has scored at least three goals in each game this season, now leads the nation in both goals (33) and points (38) – and she’s not done yet, Coyne said.

“She’s worked really hard on stick skills, placement, shot selection, release point, variety – every single aspect that makes her the finisher she is,” Coyne said of Byers, a preseason All-American. “It hasn’t been by accident because she’s put a lot of time and energy into it, and she’s still getting better. What you’ve seen from her is phenomenal and she’s having a great season, but there’s still areas of her game she can work on, and she’s not satisfied.”

Most encouraging about Notre Dame’s last two victories, though, has been the emergence of new contributors, such as Ferguson, Sciosia and junior Jane Stoeckert, who had four goals and an assist in an 18-8 Irish win over California on March 8.

“In order for us to win, we need multiple people to step up. McKinney and Byers are great players, but we can’t just win on the back of one person,” Coyne said. “We’re getting really balanced scoring, and it’s really difficult to stop a team that has multiple weapons. That’s what’s exciting about the Cal game and today: we’re having other people find their place and get more comfortable in their role.”

The Irish fired a season-high 42 shots and dominated the turnover battle by a 13-4 margin, continuing the tempo-control style of play that has been instrumental in winning their last two games.

“The response we showed [heading into the California game with consecutive losses] carried over until today,” Coyne said. “We came out doing what I said to them in the pre-game: [showing] unparalleled intensity and that attitude of going out, making plays and putting ourselves in a position to win.”

Notre Dame opens Big East play against No. 6 Syracuse on Sunday at 1 p.m. in the Loftus Center. Syracuse won last year’s meeting, outscoring the Irish 4-0 in the final 18 minutes for a 16-13 victory.