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Women’s Lacrosse: Irish finish home schedule

Chris Allen | Friday, April 16, 2010

The No. 12 Irish will close out their first home season at Arlotta Stadium Saturday as they take on Cincinnati while looking to build on last weekend’s home sweep of Villanova and Syracuse.

Notre Dame’s rejuvenated defense held Villanova and Syracuse scoreless for a combined 98 minutes before a second-half goal by Syracuse ended the streak.

“We’ve played such dominating defense it wasn’t even funny,” Irish coach Tracy Coyne said. “In the Villanova game they hardly even touched the ball for the first twenty minutes.

Our top four defenders were in key one-on-one matchups against Syracuse and they played well and just made the unit that much stronger.”

The coaching staff and the players have worked hard all week in practice to maintain the defensive effort against the Bearcats and beyond, Coyne said.

“We have little aspects to work on defensively,” she said. “Right off the draw, if we lose a draw, we want to work on causing a turnover right away and getting control back. Right now, our mindset is that we’re in the position to control our destiny as the season winds down. I don’t know how you can’t be focused when you’re in this position.”

A string of recent victories that started with a thrilling last second victory against Loyola has pushed the Irish (8-4, 4-1 Big East) into second place in the conference, and Coyne is thrilled with the outlook for the rest of the season, provided the Irish keep up their strong play.

“Georgetown is undefeated, but they have some tough games, including against Syracuse, coming up,” Coyne said. “We only have three conference games left and although they are huge games we have gotten most of our tougher competition out of the way. Rutgers will be a big game on the road, but if we win out we’ll be looking at first or second place in the Big East.”

The game against the Bearcats will be a litmus test for the Irish offense, which scored six goals in an abnormally low-scoring game against Syracuse. Junior midfielder Shaylyn Blaney leads the Irish with 23 goals on the season, while senior Gina Scioscia and junior Kailene Abt each have notched 21 goals on the year. Coyne said the offense has cleaned up their attack as the year has progressed.

“We’re controlling the ball better,” Coyne said. “We’re really limiting our turnovers, I think we’re down seven or eight turnovers a game recently. If there’s one thing we can improve it’s our shooting percentage, that’s what we really need to work on.”

The Irish will enter the homestretch of the regular season as they face the Bearcats Saturday at 3 p.m. at Arlotta Stadium.