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ND Women’s Lacrosse: Irish take on Hoyas at Big East

Cory Bernard | Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Though their chances appeared slim early in the season, the Irish will make their fifth straight appearance in the Big East tournament Thursday. The game in Washington, D.C. pits unranked, fourth-seeded Notre Dame (9-8, 6-2 Big East) against No. 16, first-seeded Georgetown (9-7, 7-1).

Notre Dame’s victories in the last three games came at the right time, as the team’s only winning streak of the season gave it the necessary momentum to prepare for tournament. Irish coach Tracy Coyne said her team has realized the difficulty of winning.

“We learned how to win, how to finish games,” she said. “We had to realize that everything doesn’t always go your way in the season.”

Notre Dame defeated the Hoyas in Arlotta Stadium April 23 for its only victory over a ranked opponent this season. During the win, the Irish scored six unanswered goals in the first half and strung together four in the second half. Coyne said Thursday’s contest will again depend on her team’s effort and desire against a familiar rival.

“We match up well [against Georgetown],” she said. “It will come down to how well we read what the defense is giving us. We need to play with intensity and heart.”

Coyne said her teams have traditionally enjoyed playing in the nation’s capital. She attributes the comfort level to the scores of Irish faithful that usually attend tournament games.

“Our fans travel really well,” Coyne said. “Sometimes we’ll have a bigger crowd than the home team. In 2004 when we [as a program] were first getting things going, I remember people showing up early and tailgating in the parking lot. That kind of support really sets the tone for our team.”

Notre Dame will need the extra support, as tests and papers have curtailed the squad’s practice time recently. Coyne said the team practiced only an hour Tuesday and would not practice at all today. Once arriving in Washington, teams may practice only during specific times. Coyne said the tournament structure dictates that practices cover only certain aspects of the game.

“Once you get to the tournament, your schedule is very regimented,” she said. “We’ll work on situational-type preparation. We’ll only cover the essentials — end-of-game scenarios, and things like that.”

No. 2 seed Syracuse (10-7, 7-1) will face No. 3 seed Loyola (14-2, 6-2) in the contest immediately prior to Notre Dame’s 8:15 p.m. game against the Hoyas Thursday.