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Women’s Lacrosse: Irish set to renew rivalry with Ohio State

Chris Allen | Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Big East has been kind to the No. 12 Irish, who are 5-1 in conference play this season and find themselves riding a four-game conference win streak. But Notre Dame will venture outside the Big East to play a non-conference opponent when it heads to Columbus to take on No. 18 Ohio State.

The Irish (9-6, 5-1 Big East) will be playing their first game since Saturday’s 15-5 win over Cincinnati. In that game, senior captain Gina Scioscia paced the Irish with her best game of the season, scoring three goals and adding four assists in the Irish rout.

“It felt great to have such a good game on senior day,” Scioscia said. “But it’s even better that the team just came out and played together, the way we know how to.”

Scioscia and freshman Jenny Granger led an early run that saw the Irish jump out to an 11-2 lead at halftime, as Cincinnati struggled to gain control of the ball against the dominant Irish offense. Scioscia credited her team’s fast start to their focus on draw controls.

“We were winning the draw, which is always step one,” Scioscia said. “From there we just stayed composed under their pressure and didn’t force anything.”

Against the Buckeyes, the Irish will look to maintain the momentum from the last few weeks before they head into a critical road stretch against Rutgers and Connecticut. The Buckeyes (8-5) are led by senior attack Kelly Hagerty, who leads the team with 62 points on the season following a 2009 campaign in which she was named to the IWLCA All-America Second Team. Scioscia said Thursday’s matchup should renew a rivalry that extends across all sports and adds intensity to the contest.

“There’s definitely some in-region rivalry and it’s always a fight against them,” Scioscia said. “They’re a scrappy team, so we need to come out ready from the first whistle.”

Hagerty and her teammates will have to contend with the dominant presence of Irish freshman goalie Ellie Hilling. Though she wasn’t tested very often against Cincinnati due to spectacular ball control by the Irish, Hilling has been a standout during Notre Dame’s four-game win streak and hopes to keep up that stellar play as the Irish near the homestretch.

“She’s important because she’s our last line of defense,” Scioscia said. “She’ll be great — she has kept us going back there all season.”

The Irish and the Buckeyes square off Thursday in Columbus at 5 p.m.