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Women’s Lacrosse: Notre Dame to fight for tournament berth

Cory Bernard | Friday, April 29, 2011

Despite the disappointments of the 2011 season, the Irish still find themselves poised to return to the Big East tournament. With two regular season games remaining, Notre Dame (7-8, 4-2 Big East) hopes to string together multiple victories for the first time this year.

The Irish will face Louisville (10-6, 3-4) Friday and Cincinnati (2-13, 0-7) Sunday, and need to claim at least one victory in order to secure a spot in the tournament. Meanwhile the Cardinals will need a victory over the Irish in their final game of the season and a Notre Dame loss Sunday in order to earn a tournament bid.

Irish senior midfielder and co-captain Jackie Doherty said she is determined not to finish her collegiate career this weekend.

“I’m not ready to play my last game at Cincinnati,” she said.

Thanks to an upset win over No. 16 Georgetown (8-6, 6-1) on senior day last weekend, Doherty said the Irish will enter Friday’s contest still riding high.

“We’re definitely still feeling good about it,” Doherty said of the win over the Hoyas. “It’s nice to know that we fought hard against a good team and came out on top. Being at home, we couldn’t have asked for a better scenario.”

After topping Louisville in a close 11-9 contest last season, the Irish know to expect a tough game from the Cardinals. However, Doherty said Notre Dame can win by a larger margin if it executes.

“They are definitely a good team,” she said of Louisville. “They are very athletic and they are one of the top scoring teams in the league. If we play like we can play and execute our game plan I expect a more significant win than last year.”

Sunday’s matchup pits a Notre Dame program that is accustomed to winning against the Bearcats, who have struggled in Big East play. According to Doherty, the Irish want to enter the Big East Tournament on a roll, which will require focusing on underdog Cincinnati.

“Obviously we want to respect every team, especially now knowing that we have to win at least one game this weekend to play in the tournament,” Doherty said. “We also want to finish with a winning streak. We played [Cincinnati] in the fall and came away with a pretty significant win. It is tough to play a team that’s not the same caliber just because of that fear of not taking them seriously.”

Though the Irish have not performed as expected this year, Doherty said lower expectations from opponents might aid the team during the postseason.

“I think this season has been disappointing with all the talent we have — even more than last year — and having a losing season,” she said. “It could also be a huge weapon, though, in the tournament. We’ll be playing teams we’ve already seen and they might think they can beat us easily. We’ll be ready if we didn’t get it the first time.”

Notre Dame will face off at Louisville Friday at 5 p.m., and at Cincinnati Sunday at noon.