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ND Women’s Lacrosse: Irish return from break to take on Ohio State

Matt DeFranks | Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The last time the No. 13 Irish took the field, it was Feb. 27 and there was still snow on the ground. Thursday, a fresh Notre Dame squad will take on regional rival Ohio State in their first game in nine days.

“It was great to have a break and focus on things that needed improvement,” Irish coach Tracy Coyne said. “We also had a couple of off days to give some players with injuries some time to recover.”

In their last game, postponed a day because of weather, Notre Dame pulled out a come-from-behind victory over Duquesne, 12-10 in Pittsburgh. Six Irish players scored in the win, led by senior midfielder Shaylyn Blaney’s three goals and three assists.

During the layoff, both Blaney and senior defender Jackie Doherty were named to the watch list for the Tewaaraton Trophy, college lacrosse’s premier individual award. Both preseason All-Big East selections, the pair has been instrumental in helping the Irish to a 2-2 start. Blaney is second on the team in assists while Doherty leads the Irish in draw controls and turnovers caused.

The Buckeyes (3-3) defeated Canisius in their last game by dominating the Griffins, 23-7. Ohio State, a 1-2 road team, is led by junior midfielder Alayna Markwordt’s team-high 19 goals and 10 assists. The Buckeye defense has been instrumental this season, allowing nearly 16 goals per game in losses and five goals per game in wins.

“We need to handle their high defensive pressure and shut down Markwordt,” Coyne said. “I just want the girls to execute the game plan.”

This game will mark the 16th meeting between the Irish and the regional rival Buckeyes, with Notre Dame holding a 9-6 edge.

“We’re both huge athletic schools and recently, we’ve been very successful,” Coyne said. “They always bring their best game and it’s nice to face a quality opponent.”

Sophomore midfielder Jenny Granger leads the Irish with 10 goals while junior attack Maggie Tamasitis has tallied a team-high 10 assists. They share the team lead in points with 14 apiece. Sophomore goalkeeper Ellie Hilling has had a solid season so far, allowing fewer than 11 goals a game while saving 44 percent of the shots she has faced.

After playing three road games and one home game in the Loftus Center, the Irish were scheduled to finally play in Arlotta Stadium, the home to both the men’s and women’s lacrosse teams. Impending inclement weather, however, has pushed the game indoors into the Loftus Center.

“It’s disappointing but we still hope people show up,” Coyne said. “We play better with a good crowd and hope they can be loud and rowdy.”

The showdown with the Buckeyes is slated for a 4 p.m. start on Thursday in the Loftus Sports Center.