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Women’s Lacrosse: Irish claim berth in NCAAs

Luke Mansour | Thursday, May 13, 2010

A Notre Dame team with five all-conference players earned an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament and will take on No. 2-seeded Northwestern tomorrow.

Junior midfielders Shaylyn Blaney and Jackie Doherty and senior attack Gina Scioscia were named to the Big East all-conference first team, while junior midfielder Kailene Abt and senior defense Rachel Guerrera were named to the all-conference second team. Blaney earned first-team honors for the third consecutive year, while Scioscia earned her second straight spot on the team.

“We were very pleased to have such strong representation,” Irish coach Tracy Coyne said. “It’s such a competitive conference, and anyone who gets recognitions has earned it. They have all been instrumental to our success this season.”

While the recognition of many of the key players on the squad was well-deserved, the Irish had their eyes set on a Big East tournament title. But after falling to Syracuse 12-11 in a heartbreaking loss in the fourth overtime, the Irish (11-6, 6-2 Big East) had to reevaluate their goals.

Notre Dame and Syracuse engaged in a tightly contested affair earlier in the conference season on April 11, and Notre Dame won a defensive battle, 6-5. Despite the victory earlier in the year, Coyne said the NCAA tournament committee places additional weight on conference tournament victories and titles.

“I think people look at [the April 11 victory] as a bit of an anomaly, and that bugs me,” Coyne said.” We have a great record, and I don’t think the team is as well-respected as we should be. The roles were reversed last year when they beat us in the regular season, then we beat them in the conference tournament.”

Nevertheless, the Irish breathed a slight sigh of relief Sunday when they learned they would enter the championships for the third time in as many years. The No. 15-seed in the field of 16, Notre Dame will take on No. 2-seed Northwestern (17-1, 6-0 American Lacrosse Conference) Saturday in Evanston, Ill.

The Irish fell to the Wildcats in the opening round of the tournament in 2004, and again in 2008.