The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Women’s Lacrosse: Squad faces familiar foes

Matt DeFranks | Friday, April 15, 2011

On the heels of a disappointing loss to Big East rival Syracuse, the Irish will look to bounce back tomorrow against a familiar opponent: Connecticut.

The Huskies (6-5, 0-3 Big East) and the Irish have met 12 times during the Notre Dame lacrosse program’s brief 14-year history. The Irish have claimed victory over Connecticut 10 times, making the Huskies the most-defeated foe by the Irish.

“Both schools are going after top talent that fit the Universities,” Irish coach Tracy Coyne said. “We have a little bit of an edge but they are an up-and-coming team that has given some top programs a scare.”

Notre Dame’s 12-7 loss to the No. 13 Orange was preceded by a 15-4 domination of Villanova Friday. Over the weekend, four different Irish players scored in both contests, including senior attack Ansley Stewart, who chipped in four goals and two assists across the pair of games. Junior attack Maggie Tamasitis also extended her point streak to 30 games, making her just the fifth player in program history to reach the 30-game plateau.

“Her best asset is field vision. She can see plays develop ahead of time and is able to set teammates up,” Coyne said of Tamasitis. “She’s also very sneaky around the cage for goals.”

Tamasitis, however, is not the only one with a streak.

Connecticut junior attack M.E. Lapham carries a 34-game goal streak into Saturday’s game against the Irish. In those 34 games, Lapham has scored nearly 100 goals, making her a dangerous threat. Huskies freshman attack Lauren Kahn has been impressive as well, tallying 31 goals and 10 assists. The potent duo has accounted for 41 percent of Connecticut’s points, posing a challenge to nearly every conference foe it has faced.

“We played really well defensively against Syracuse, especially in the second half,” Coyne said. “We’ve made some adjustments but we’ll use a similar scheme [tomorrow].”

Building a stone wall in front of Lapham and Kahn will be senior defender Jackie Doherty and sophomore goalie Ellie Hilling. Doherty, a preseason All-American and All-Big East selection, leads the Irish with 34 ground balls and 28 caused turnovers while Hilling is coming off a career-best performance. In the loss to Syracuse, Hilling, who has played all but 12 minutes this season, made a career-high 14 saves.

With only four Big East games remaining, each conference game gains importance as teams vie for one of just four spots in the conference tournament. The Irish currently sit in fourth place, just half a game in front of fifth-place Louisville.

“It’s a huge game. We want to be in the tournament. It’s not an option not to [make the tournament],” Coyne said. “We also want to finish the season with 10 or more wins again.”

With vital conference seeding on the line, familiar foes Notre Dame and Connecticut will meet at Arlotta Stadium tomorrow at noon.