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ND Women’s Lacrosse: Squad faces No. 19 Commodores at home

Matt Robison | Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Coming off a big overtime win over Boston last weekend, the No. 11 Irish will look to continue their winning streak against No. 19 Vanderbilt today.

Although the Commodores (5-3) are a nonconference opponent, they are in the same national region as Notre Dame (4-1) and an important matchup in determining seeding for the NCAA tournament.

The Irish have been playing Vanderbilt for several years and have developed a strong rivalry, as both teams are typically ranked.

Even though Vanderbilt has lost three games, those losses came against three top 10 opponents — No. 3 North Carolina, No. 6 Duke and No. 10 Stanford. They also have two wins against ranked opponents in No. 9 Boston and No. 14 Penn State. The Commodores will be a tough task for the Irish, as they have proven to be in years past.

“We haven’t played them well for the last three years,” Irish coach Tracy Coyne said. “But we had a big win over them in the first round of the NCAA Tournament last year.”

Coyne said this year’s Vanderbilt team will be as good as it has been in the past, so the Irish will have to step up.

“[Vanderbilt] is pretty deadly on attack,” Coyne said. “They like to pack in on defense, so we will have to convert on the offensive end.”

Coyne said she is confident in her defense’s ability to shut down the strong Vanderbilt attack.

This week in practice, the Irish have continued to build on the aspects of their game that were weaknesses early in the season, Coyne said.

“We haven’t seen our best performance so far this season,” Coyne said. “There are still aspects of our game that we can continue to improve upon.”

Coyne also said the similar strategies of Boston and Vanderbilt will create an advantage for the Irish since they been exposed to that style and have been successful.

In terms of expectations, Coyne said hers are “the same as always: win.”

“It’s a big game,” Coyne said. “There are different components to this season, and the Vanderbilt game is an important one.”

The Irish will face off against the Commodores today at 2:30 p.m. in Arlotta Stadium.