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Women’s Lacrosse: Team recovers from slow start to best Cardinal

Brian Hartnett | Monday, February 18, 2013

It was not how No. 9 Notre Dame envisioned starting its season.

Getting off to slow starts on both ends of the field, the team trailed 7-2 to Stanford after its first 30 minutes of play. But the Irish (1-0) rebounded quickly in the second half, outscoring the Cardinal (0-1) 10-3 to pull out a victory Saturday at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium at Maloney Field in Palo Alto, Calif.

Notre Dame got on the board first when senior attack Jaimie Morrison scored off a feed from senior attack Jenny Granger minutes into the game. The Irish offense then fell into a 17-minute scoreless stretch, while Stanford went on a 3-0 run.

After Irish freshman midfielder Brie Custis scored with 8:36 left in the half, the Cardinal scored four consecutive goals to take a 7-2 edge into halftime.

Junior defender Molly Shawan said the mood in the Irish locker room was surprisingly relaxed after the lackluster first half.

“At halftime, [Irish] coach [Christine] Halfpenny sat us all down and told us, ‘Alright, we got that first half out,'” Shawan said. “We weren’t playing like the team we had been practicing as for the past five weeks of preseason. But we’re really good at responding in times like that, so we all knew we would be fine in the second half now that we had the chance to cool off.”

The two squads traded goals to start the second half, but Notre Dame quickly heated up, going on a 5-0 run to tie the game at eight. Stanford soon reclaimed the lead on a goal from freshman midfielder Lucy Dikeou, but the Irish tied it back up after junior attack Kaitlyn Brosco found the net.

“I think we definitely increased our energy level in the second half and as a team, all looked to each other for plays,” Shawan said. “Every single play we made, there were four or five people helping to make it happen. Both sides of the ball stepped it up in the second half.”

With the game deadlocked at nine, junior attack Lindsay Powell gave Notre Dame its first lead since the 25:50 mark of the first half when she scored with 11:32 to go. Less than three minutes later, Stanford clawed right back on an equalizing goal from junior attack Rachel Ozer.

Senior attack Betsy Mastropieri put the Irish ahead for good when she scored on a free-position shot with 5:40 left in the game. Junior attack Grace Dooley helped seal the Notre Dame victory when she scored on an insurance goal just seconds later to extend the lead to 12-10.

Notre Dame saw a balanced attack on the offensive end, as nine different players scored for the Irish. Powell, Dooley and junior attack Lauren Sullivan each had a pair of goals, while Brosco led the team with two assists.

“Before every season, we come up with team goals, and one of ours is to have eight different scorers,” Shawan said. “Everyone was just sharing the ball, and one person didn’t try to do it all – we all had each other’s backs.”

On the defensive end, the Irish held Stanford to eight shots in the second half. Senior goalkeeper Ellie Hilling made five saves in the victory, while freshman defender Stephanie Peragallo claimed four ground balls and two caused turnovers in her college debut.

Shawan said she believes the momentum from the second half will carry over to Notre Dame’s next game, a matchup with No. 13 Ohio State.

“I think we’re all excited that we got the first game jitters out of the way, and we know how to play and what we need to do,” she said. “We’ve been preparing all along for these kinds of games, and it was awesome to see everyone come together.

“Even when things were going bad, we just turned around and said, ‘We can do this,’ and I’m sure it will be the same next game.”

After a long layoff, the Irish will meet Ohio State on Feb. 27 at either Arlotta Stadium or Loftus Sports Center, weather pending.

Contact Brian Hartnett at [email protected]