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Women’s Lacrosse: Slow start leads to first missed NCAA tourney since 2007

Matthew DeFranks | Friday, May 20, 2011

Despite advancing to the Big East tournament championship game, Notre Dame failed to earn a berth in the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2007.

“It’s really important to know that we need to work to earn our victories,” Irish coach Tracy Coyne said.

The Irish (10-9, 6-2 Big East) still placed five players on the all-Big East teams, including senior midfielder Shaylyn Blaney. For Blaney, her selection to the first team marks the third year in a row she has earned the honor. Blaney, who led the Irish with 35 goals this season, was also named a second-teamer as a freshman.

Joining Blaney on the first team are senior defender Jackie Doherty and junior attack Maggie Tamasitis. Doherty ranks third nationally with 2.42 caused turnovers per outing. She also scooped up a team-high 56 ground balls on her way to her second consecutive all-Big East selection.

Meanwhile, the all-Big East selection was the first for Tamasitis. Tamasitis notched career highs in goals (21), assists (46) and points (67) while falling just two assists shy of the national leader. Perhaps even more impressive, Tamasitis continued and extended her point streak to 37 games, the second longest streak in program history.

Senior midfielder Kailene Abt and freshman midfielder Kaitlyn Brosco garnered second team honors for the Irish. Abt finished a stellar career by piling up 26 goals, 11 ground balls and 20 draw controls.

Brosco, the first freshman to be named all-Big East since Blaney, racked up 32 goals and 8 assists in her rookie campaign. She fell three goals short of being the first freshman in program history to lead the squad in goals.

The Irish faced a tough early schedule on their way to a 3-5 opening that included three one-goal losses.

“The team had a lot of character. Losing can bring out the worst in teams but it brought out the best in us,” Coyne said. “We stayed together, stayed committed and fought hard.”

Notre Dame rebounded in conference play, ripping off a four-game win streak before being stopped by Loyola (Md.) in the Big East title game 12-10. Notre Dame also knocked off Big East regular-season champion Georgetown twice during the campaign on its way to a 10-win season for the sixth straight time.

“[The best part of the year was] playing for a Big East championship,” Coyne said. “Beating Georgetown at home on Senior Day was also a memorable experience.”

Notre Dame will wave goodbye to one of the most productive senior classes in the program’s history. The graduating class won a Big East title and featured two all-Americans in Blaney and Doherty.

“[The seniors] are amazingly talented. They’ve played in two Big East championships and three NCAA tournaments,” Coyne said. “They have embraced the new talent that came while they were here.”

Despite losing this group of players, the Irish look to rebound next year. Returning for Notre Dame are Tamasitis and Brosco, along with sophomore goalie Ellie Hilling and sophomore midfielder Jenny Granger.

“We’re going to go back after a championship,” Coyne said. “We have a great recruiting class coming in and a lot of talent coming back. I’m going to miss these seniors a lot but we have to get right back to work.”