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Women’s Lacrosse: Irish optimistic despite losses

Matthew DeFranks | Friday, February 25, 2011

After an opening stretch that saw a two-game west coast trip and a home opener against No. 2 Northwestern, No. 11 Notre Dame will hit the road this weekend to take on Duquesne Saturday.

The Irish (1-2) dropped back-to-back decisions to nationally ranked opponents by a combined four goals. Most recently, Notre Dame lost 14-11 to the Wildcats in a game that saw seven different players score a goal. Despite the rough start, Irish coach Tracy Coyne said she is encouraged.

“I would be more worried if we were not in the games, but we had chances to win those games,” Coyne said. “I feel really good about the team. The girls are very competitive.”

The rocky road to open the season has also been somewhat of a learning curve for the Irish.

“We’ve been able to focus on things we can improve on these last few games,” Coyne said. “I would rather play a tough schedule than open 10-0 against cupcake teams.”

The Dukes (1-1) also come into the game following a loss, falling 11-7 to No.16 Boston College on Thursday. The Irish have never lost to Duquesne in six meetings with the Pittsburgh school, including a 15-10 win in last year’s home opener for Notre Dame.

“We’re going out there to win. We can be better than our record,” Coyne said.

In last year’s game, senior midfielder Kailene Abt tallied four goals while junior attack Maggie Tamasitis contributed four assists. Duquesne has since lost goalie Sara Beckstead, who made 19 saves a year ago, to graduation and will be playing with 12 newcomers on the squad.

“[Head coach] Mike Scerbo does a great job recruiting and maximizing potential from his players,” Coyne said. “They are defensively much better and we know they will be organized and well prepared.”

Irish sophomore midfielder Jenny Granger leads the team with eight goals and has put nearly 83 percent of her shots on goal. Freshman midfielder Kaitlyn Brosco has tallied six goals in the first three games, all in a reserve role.

“I’ve been really happy with Jenny and she’s only a sophomore,” Coyne said. “I’ve been more pleased than surprised with her and Kaitlyn.”

Notre Dame will face off against the Dukes at noon Saturday at Duquesne’s Rooney Field.