ND Women’s Lacrosse
Irish open ACC slate at Duke
Alex Carson | Friday, February 27, 2015
After splitting a pair of games last weekend on the West Coast, No. 16 Notre Dame gets its ACC season underway Sunday when it visits No. 5 Duke.
Despite outshooting No. 15 Stanford, 37-16, the Irish (3-1) fell, 12-10, Friday before bouncing back with a 17-7 victory over California on Sunday. Irish junior attack Rachel Sexton said the team got back to their strengths in Sunday’s win.
“After our game at Stanford, we looked to bounce back by returning to our style of lacrosse and executing what we do best,” Sexton said. “In the Cal game, we were able to capitalize on our speed on both sides of the ball.”
Sexton scored a career-high five goals against Stanford on Friday en route to an eight-point weekend and said the team has been focusing on its game, not its opponent’s, this week.
“We’ve had a great week of preparation focusing on ourselves and how we are able to get better,” Sexton said. “This weekend, we are looking to continue focusing on our own game plan and executing in the final third.”
The Blue Devils (5-0) have run the gauntlet up to this point in non-conference, including a 15-9 win over No. 6 Northwestern, but enters the conference season as the ACC’s third-highest ranked team. Sexton said the Irish should benefit from these tough early-season, conference games.
“I think playing tough games early on in the season is great for us,” Sexton said. “Playing in the toughest lacrosse conference, the ACC, you don’t get to take any games off, and we are given a great opportunity to compete right from the get go.”
Despite playing a top opponent Sunday, Sexton stressed the importance of sticking to what the Irish do best.
“With any good opponent the most important thing that we can do is stayed focused on our team goals, sticking the game plan and playing our style of lacrosse,” Sexton said.
Sophomore attack Cortney Fortunato and senior defender Barbara Sullivan were named to the Tewaaraton Award watch list yesterday, for the trophy given to college lacrosse’s top player. Both Fortunato and Sullivan have been named All-Americans in previous years.
While Sexton leads the Irish with 11 goals this season, sophomore attack Grace Muller (10) and Fortunato (nine) are also among the team’s top scorers four games in.
The Blue Devils are led in the goal-scoring department by senior attack Kerrin Maurer and senior midfielder Katie Trees, who have 12 and 10 goals apiece. Junior Kelsey Duryea has an unbeaten record in goal for Duke.
Sexton said the Irish have spent their week in practice trying to get better on the offensive side of the ball.
“This week, we’ve really worked on our shooting and cohesion on offense,” Sexton said. “We have been able to work through our offensive sets and continue to build and improve upon them.”
The Irish and Blue Devils face off in their first conference game of the year Sunday at noon in Durham, North Carolina.