ND Women’s Lacrosse
Irish look to keep rolling against Marquette
Zach Klonsinski | Wednesday, March 25, 2015
After riding a special source of inspiration to a second-half trouncing of No. 14 Ohio State on Saturday at Arlotta Stadium, No. 18 Notre Dame looks to keep the momentum going tonight on the road against Marquette.
The Irish (5-4, 1-2 ACC) returned to their locker room after practice Friday night to find new green jerseys hanging in their lockers. The next day, donning green for the first time in program history, Notre Dame tallied the first six goals of the second half to pull away from the Buckeyes (8-2, 0-0 Big Ten) by a final score of 13-5.
After a three-game losing streak to begin the month of March, the win was Notre Dame’s second consecutive victory after a 15-8 victory over Virginia Tech on March 14. With lots of youth seeing time on the field and a number of key players returning after missing extended stretches last year, Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny said she witnessed a transformation in her team over spring break.
“I think it’s just been [playing with] a lot more conviction,” Halfpenny said. “I think kids have really settled into their ‘role.’ … I think that they’re really getting comfortable in their contribution to the team.
“I think they’ve put expectations on themselves a little bit higher. You don’t hear them anymore being like ‘Oh, that’s ok,’ when a ball drops. They’re saying ‘I’ve got the next one.’ A switch has been flipped for the team, and it’s all been a natural process.”
Halfpenny said she noticed players like senior defender and co-captain Leah Gallagher, who has been a mainstay in the Irish starting lineup since her sophomore season, assume control of the drive and mentality of this year’s team, causing a change in mindset among the younger players.
“[Gallagher] feels like she’s playing the best ball she’s ever played,” Halfpenny said. “So when you have that first older kid that says ‘I’m playing out of my mind,’ and a little pep in her step comes and a little edge comes, and that just starts to become — there’s electricity with that, and it’s starting to spread.”
This in turn has let the Irish settle into an offensive rhythm that was missing at the beginning of the month, Halfpenny said.
“We’ve also been very patient with the ball, very deliberate on offense, and because of the skill sets our kids have and all of their training … they’re being able to be thrown into — yes, a deliberate offense — but once that ball’s in play, it’s a read offense,” Halfpenny said. “That’s really fun for us, and that’s where we’re generating more offense in the last few games.”
After a slow first half in both its victories, Notre Dame exploded for a combined 18 goals in the second 30-minute periods. Halfpenny gave credit to her training staff for making sure the Irish still had legs in the second half, but she said the Irish can’t afford to get off to a slow start against the streaky Golden Eagles (4-5, 0-0 Big East).
“The reality is at the first whistle, the game is tied no matter where you’re ranked,” Halfpenny said.
“We’ve got great speed and dodging ability … so we’re really going to look to fast-break on this team. … We’re really going to focus on us and go together.”
Marquette coach Meredith Black is a 2004 Notre Dame graduate who was part of the team that reached the program’s first two NCAA tournament appearances in 2002 and 2004. She also earned the team’s first-ever first team All-American honors in 2004. She was an assistant with the Irish program from 2008-2010.
“Her dream is going to be to knock us off,” Halfpenny said. “ … Our players, they get that, and they can put that on the shelf and focus on each other.
“No matter if it’s a first-half team or a hot-second-half team, we’re able to take it in stride now and continue to focus on us. If we can just be our best and execute to our best ability, we should be able to limit that streaky, high-low game that Marquette plays.”
The Irish and Golden Eagles are scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. today at Valley Fields in Milwaukee.