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ND Women’s Lacrosse: Burke, Byers lead ND laxers

Meaghan Veselik | Monday, March 23, 2009

Notre Dame senior captains Shannon Burke and Jillian Byers both had impressive games Sunday as they led the Irish to a 20-4 win over California, moving the Irish winning streak to seven and overall record to 8-1.

“One of the stand-out performances was Shannon Burke,” Irish coach Tracy Coyne said. “She had one goal, which is a big deal for a defender, but also had five ground balls and five caused turnovers, which is amazing in one game.”

Burke, a preseason All-Big East team selection, led the Irish defensive effort while contributing offensively as well. She moves to 21 ground balls and 16 turnovers caused this season, the highest combination of the two on the team so far this season. She finished up her junior season fourth in the conference with 1.56 caused turnovers per game, second on the team for ground balls (33), and first in caused turnovers (32). The Maryland native is a key example of the significant impact the Notre Dame defense has made on the field this season.

Byers led the offensive effort Sunday with five goals and an assist, and ten other Irish players also got in on the scoring act. Notre Dame’s all-time points leader moved to 33 goals and seven assists this season, 209 goals and 260 points in her collegiate career.

Following Byers was sophomore midfield Kailene Abt with four goals and two assists, and junior attack Gina Scioscia with two goals and four assists. Abt moves to 18 goals and three assists this season, while Scioscia leads the team in points with 44 from her 24 goals and 20 assists.

Freshman midfield/attack Maggie Tamasitis contributed with three assists and a goal, while freshman defender Kelly Driscoll scored her first two goals for the Irish. Kaitlin Keena, Shannon Burke, Beth Koulup, Shaylyn Blaney, Meredith Locasto, and Maggie Zentgraf each netted one goal for Notre Dame to round out their scoring drive.

Coyne was pleased with Notre Dame’s performance Sunday, especially the balance her team showed.

“Twenty goals and eleven assists is very balanced for any team,” she said. “We were able to play everyone on the team today, the fourth of our nine games in which we’ve been able to do that. I think that says a lot about our presence on the field and our team overall.”

Junior midfield Alex Tickner led the Golden Bears scoring with two goals, followed by one from each senior midfield Ghillie Little and junior midfield Alyse Kennedy.

Notre Dame launched the game with a 5-0 run in the first eight minutes of the play, with goals from Blaney, Byers, Keena, and Abt. Cal got on the board with 19:03 left in the first period with the first of Tickner’s two goals. The Irish responded by netting four more goals before the Bears scored for the second time. Scioscia closed out the half with her first goal, putting Notre Dame at a 10-2 lead.

Scioscia opened up the second half with another goal less than a minute into play, quickly followed by two goals from Abt. Cal’s Kennedy scored with 22:36 left to play, but Notre Dame answered with four more goals to increase their lead to 17-3. Cal’s final goal came from Little with just under nine minutes left in the period. Driscoll scored twice and Locasto once to lock up the game for the Irish.

Senior goalkeeper Erin Goodman made two saves in the match, playing 45:26 of the 60 minutes of play. The win was the 31st of Goodman’s career, tying her with Irish alum Jen White for the most career wins in Irish history.

“We have set some goals for ourselves, but individually it is great that different people are stepping up in different games,” Coyne said. “We’re trying to work on our defense transition, causing turnovers and scoring points off of our defense’s work as well. Our team is falling into a rhythm with our team goals and our individual performances and working together on the field.”

Coming up next for the Irish is a string of five conference games, two at home versus Georgetown and Loyola (MD), before traveling to Cincinnati, Louisville and Syracuse.

“Our next games are all Big East, so our focus is on the conference, earning our way into the conference tournament, and being the top seed in the tournament,” Coyne said. “There are a lot of Notre Dame teams who have won a Big East championship, and we want to be one of them since we haven’t done that yet.”

Notre Dame heads back on the field Friday, March 27 as they take on Georgetown at 8:00 at Loftus Sports Center.