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ND Women’s Lacrosse

Notre Dame set to head to Florida for weekend

| Friday, February 16, 2018

After a 13-11 defeat to Boston College last weekend, No. 16 Notre Dame will hope to earn its first wins of the 2018 season with a two-game trip to Florida this weekend, playing two games within 24 hours.

The Irish (0-1, 0-1 ACC) will play Jacksonville on Friday before a quick turnaround and a game against Stetson on Saturday.

The Dolphins (1-0) are relative newcomers to the sport, with their program beginning in 2010, but have already made a considerable impact. Since moving to the Atlantic Sun conference in 2013, Jacksonville has compiled a 33-1 regular-season conference record, winning their first 31 regular-season games in the conference before a defeat to Coastal Carolina last year. The Dolphins have also won the Atlantic Sun tournament in four of its five years of existence, including last season, and have won the regular season title every year since 2013. However, despite the frequent NCAA Tournament appearances that Jacksonville’s domination of their conference has provided, the Dolphins have yet to win a game at the NCAA Tournament, losing 13-10 to USC last year after falling into an early 8-1 hole.

The Dolphins have attempted to take that next step in recent years by scheduling a slate of major-conference opponents in out-of-conference games, including a meeting with the Irish in 2016, in which Notre Dame recorded its largest home victory since 2011, winning 18-5 behind an 11-0 run. This year, after a victory over an also-young Michigan program, the Dolphins will follow their encounter with the Irish by facing No. 3 Florida and Ohio State in an effort to test themselves before conference season.

The Dolphins have lost a significant amount of offensive firepower from last season, with their two leading goal-scorers and five of their six highest point-scorers from last season graduating, but do return key pieces elsewhere, including senior midfielder Ashtyn Hiron, who recorded 77 draw controls and 32 caused turnovers last season on her way to an All-Atlantic-Sun selection.

Like Jacksonville, Stetson is a relatively young program playing in the Atlantic Sun Conference, but the Hatters have not had the same immediate impact as the Dolphins. The Hatters have an 18-68 all-time record after opening this season with a 15-13 loss to Arizona State in which they trailed 11-2 late in the first half. Stetson has never posted a winning record in conference play, with last year’s 5-5 showing being the team’s best achievement.

While the Hatters have lost 2017’s scoring and assists leaders in Lindsay Summers and Sam Maguire, their returners include senior midfielder Maddie Holvey, who led the team in draw controls, senior attack Hallie Merz, who recorded 46 points as both a freshman and as a sophomore, junior attack Shelby Lehmann, who scored five goals against the Sun Devils and sophomore goalkeeper Liza Diamond, who was named last week’s Atlantic Sun player of the week after 16 saves against the Sun Devils.

The Irish and the Dolphins will begin play at 1 p.m. Saturday at D.B. Milne Field in Jacksonville, Florida. The Irish will face Stetson in the Athletic Training Center in DeLand, Florida at 11 a.m. Sunday.

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