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ND Women’s Lacrosse

ND hopes to stay on a roll against Michigan

| Friday, April 10, 2015

No. 13 Notre Dame has the chance to build off back-to-back upsets of No. 8 Virginia and No. 6 Syracuse when it faces Michigan at Arlotta Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The Irish (8-5, 3-3 ACC) will have the advantage of momentum when they return home, as they cruised by the Cavaliers, 14-4, on Saturday to kick off a short road swing. The squad then traveled to Syracuse and eked out a 12-11 overtime win over the Orange on Tuesday. Sunday’s game will be the first Irish home game in April; their last match in Arlotta Stadium was a 9-8 loss to No. 2 North Carolina on March 29.

The Wolverines (5-7, 0-2 Big Ten), meanwhile, are currently on a five-game losing streak following a 11-5 defeat at the hands of No. 12 Penn State.

The two teams’ common opponents include No. 14 Ohio State, Virginia Tech and Marquette. The Irish beat all three by at least eight goals, while the Wolverines fell to both the Buckeyes and the Hokies by scores of 13-5 and 13-12, respectively. Both teams beat Marquette in Milwaukee earlier in the season — the Irish ran away to a 18-8 victory March 25, and the Wolverines pulled out a 10-7 decision March 20.

Sunday marks the first-ever meeting between Michigan and Notre Dame in women’s lacrosse, as 2015 is only the second year the Wolverines have fielded a varsity team. Consequently, Michigan’s team is made up entirely of sophomores and freshmen.

The Irish will have to avoid looking beyond Michigan as matches against No. 5 Northwestern and No. 11 Louisville loom next week. The three-game homestand marks the end of the regular season for Notre Dame, as the ACC tournament begins in Charlottesville, Virginia, on April 23. A win would also be Notre Dame’s ninth on the season, the magic number for the team to clinch a .500 record and be eligible for the NCAA tournament.

Irish sophomore attack Cortney Fortuno surverys the field in an 17-5 victory against Detroit  on Feb. 15 at Loftus Sports Center. Fortunado has 42 goals and 14 assists this season.Amy Ackermann | The Observer
Irish sophomore attack Cortney Fortunado moves upfield in an 17-5 victory against Detroit on Feb. 15 at Loftus Sports Center. Fortunado has 42 goals and 14 assists this season.

Notre Dame’s offense has managed to score at least 12 goals in five of its last six games, fueling the squad’s recent success against ranked teams. Sophomore attack Cortney Fortunato paces the Irish in goals with 42, far ahead of the team’s next leading scorer — junior attack Rachel Sexton, who has 27. Fortunato also ranks No. 13 in the country with 3.23 goals per game.

The win over Virginia on Saturday was a landmark game for sophomore goalie Liz O’Sullivan, as she made a career-high 11 saves and then added nine more against the Orange on Tuesday. Senior defender Barbara Sullivan also tied a school record by hauling in nine draws against the Cavaliers.

Defensively, the Irish have held opponents to an average of 8.85 goals per game this season and force an average of 11.31 turnovers per game, placing them fourth in the NCAA. For its part, Michigan is tops in the Big Ten in caused turnovers and is 17th in the NCAA, forcing 9.5 per game.

Notre Dame and Michigan square off at Arlotta Stadium at 1 p.m., as the Irish hope to carry their current momentum into the postseason.

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