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Women’s Lacrosse: Sullivan sisters don’t let a rivalry take over

Cory Bernard | Tuesday, April 5, 2011

As the only coach in the Irish program’s 15-year Division I history, Tracy Coyne prides herself on recruiting talented athletes from across the country to come to Notre Dame. If talent happens to run in the family, Coyne’s job becomes much easier.

When freshman attack Lauren Sullivan decided to join forces with her older sister, junior midfielder Megan Sullivan, she became part of the ninth set of sisters to play for the Irish.

Although siblings often want to escape the shadow of an older brother or sister, an issue that Megan said arose during her sister’s recruiting process, the two Sullivans’ separate positions prevented any sort of malicious sibling rivalry.

“That was an issue in the beginning,” Megan said of her younger sister Lauren’s desire to make a name for herself. “I think it would be a bigger deal if we both played offense or both played defense. We each have a specific set of skills.”

Those specific skills have their respective places on the field for the Irish. Megan said she relies on her quickness in the midfield to help start the Notre Dame attack, her sister’s area of expertise.

“I rely a lot on my speed,” Megan said. “I’m pretty fast through the midfield, where I’m looking to create turnovers and get us going offensively.”

The junior’s speed resulted in her introduction to the starting lineup last year, starting all 18 games and finishing with 16 goals, sixth-best on the team. She has started all 10 games so far this season, tallying five goals and one assist.

Having a sister on the same team isn’t an uncommon trend in lacrosse since the sport is often popular in entire families, Megan said.

“Obviously some brothers and sisters want to distinguish themselves,” she said. “I know a lot of siblings end up going to the same school though.”

Megan said her visit to Notre Dame with her mother senior year sealed her fate. Her younger sister experienced the same feelings two years later.

“We definitely both fell in love with the school,” Megan said. “I came out here first with my mom, and she fell in love with Notre Dame too. Then when Lauren came she felt the same thing as me.”

The familial presence on campus turned out to be quite the blessing for Lauren, as she suffered a season-ending knee injury in January. Megan said she was able to comfort her sibling and help her think positively about the situation.

“It was definitely good for her to have me here,” Megan said of her younger sister. “I just let her know she should focus on being 100 percent ready to go in the fall. I think she’ll be fine and ready to take out her frustration in the next three years.”

Given Megan’s description of her sister’s skills, the Irish will benefit greatly from her return in the fall.

“Lauren is more skilled, she has good stick skills and she’s very creative with them,” Megan said. “She has the ability to break down defenses and is more strategic in that way than I am.”