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Women’s Lacrosse: Second in conference on the line as team takes on Syracuse

Meaghan Veselik | Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The No. 10 Irish are back on the field Saturday as they travel to Syracuse to take on the No. 8 Orange in their fifth straight Big East game.

Notre Dame (11-2, 4-1 Big East) has won its last three games, all conference matchups, to place them in a tie for second in the conference with the Orange (9-3, 4-1 Big East).

“Syracuse is a huge rivalry, and we’ve never beaten them in the Carrier Dome, so I think it’s time to start a new tradition,” Irish coach Tracy Coyne said.

Over the past weekend, the Irish took down both Cincinnati and Louisville, by scores of 16-5 and 20-8, respectively.

For her efforts in the victories, junior defender Rachael Guerrera earned Big East defensive player of the week honors. Guerrera had nine ground balls, two draw controls and six caused turnovers in the two games.

“Rachael [Guerrera] is a really hard worker, very unselfish, and has definitely has worked hard to get where she is,” Coyne said. “To be honored in the Big East, which is a very competitive conference, is a true testament to her hard work.”

In both games, senior captain Jillian Byers led the Irish offense with six points (five goals and an assist) against the Bearcats and seven points (five goals and two assists) versus the Cardinals. Byers’ five goals at Louisville gave her 50 for the season, making her the first player in Notre Dame history to score 50 or more goals in a four seasons. Earlier this season Byers also became Notre Dame’s all-time points leader with 62 this season, giving her 287 for her career.

Junior Gina Scioscia and sophomore Ansley Stewart led the Irish attack alongside Byers over the weekend. Scioscia had two goals and three assists against Cincinnati, and Stewart tallied a career-high four goals. Against Louisville, Scioscia had three goals and an assist, and Stewart scored two goals of her own.

Scioscia leads the team in points this season with 63 on 38 goals and 25 assists, and is second in the Big East in points per game.

Taking over the Irish defense this season is senior captain and preseason All-Big East team selection Shannon Burke. Burke already has posted 34 ground balls and 22 caused turnovers, leading the team in both categories and passing her last season stats of 33 ground balls and 32 caused turnovers.

Dominating the goal for the Irish is goalkeeper Erin Goodman. The senior has made 104 saves out of 302 shots faced this season, allowing only 125 goals. Her save percentage of 45.4 percent is ninth in the Big East, two behind Orange goalkeeper Liz Hogan’s 46.7 percent. Over the weekend Goodman helped the Irish defense in allowing only 13 goals in the two matches.

“It’s going to be a battle this weekend. It’s always a really competitive game and we’re really looking forward to it,” Coyne said.

Looking to keep their winning streak going over the Easter weekend, Notre Dame will face the Orange in Syracuse on Saturday at 12 p.m.