ND Women’s Lacrosse
Irish face off against Duke with postseason hopes on the line
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, April 13, 2018
After a comprehensive defeat at the hands of No. 7 Northwestern, Notre Dame will attempt to get back on track when it hosts No. 19 Duke in its final ACC regular-season game of the year.
Last week, a strong three-game stretch for the Irish (7-7, 2-4 ACC) came to an abrupt halt with a 20-10 loss at Northwestern, in which the Wildcats (11-3, 3-0 Big Ten) won 26 draw controls, while the Notre Dame won just six. Against the Blue Devils (7-6, 2-3 ACC), the Irish will face another difficult challenge on the restart, as Duke is led by junior attack Olivia Jenner, who leads the nation with 115 draw controls this season. Hoping to stop Jenner will be Irish freshman midfielder Andie Aldave. Aldave has been a highlight for the Irish in a difficult season and leads the team with 79 draw controls, third among freshmen nationally. Against the Blue Devils, she has the opportunity to break the Irish single-season record for draw controls, which is currently 85, a mark set by two-time Tewaaraton Award Finalist Barbara Sullivan in 2015.
The Irish defense will have to deal with the Blue Devils’ offensive threats of freshman attack Charlotte North and senior attacks Grace Fallon and Kyra Harney. North has been one of the top goalscorers in the nation this season, ranking second among all ACC players and third among freshmen nationally in goals per game with 3.31. Fallon and Harney have both proven adept facilitators for North, as they have 24 and 19 assists, respectively, while the two have also added a combined 32 goals.
After a strong February and March, Duke has struggled this month. The Blue Devils held a 7-4 record after defeating No. 16 Syracuse 17-10 in the Carrier Dome. But needing only one more win to clinch a .500 regular-season record, they were defeated 18-8 by No. 2 Boston College before a 16-12 defeat to No. 20 High Point. With rival No. 5 North Carolina still on the slate, the Blue Devils may see the encounter with the Irish as a must-win game to prevent a four-game skid entering the postseason.
For Notre Dame, the game could have a major impact on Irish postseason chances. If the Irish lose to both the Blue Devils and San Diego State next week, the team could only achieve a .500 record, and a chance at NCAA championship play, by winning the ACC tournament. With wins in both games, the Irish would guarantee themselves a winning record, though whether that would be enough for a place at the tournament remains to be seen. In terms of seeding for the ACC tournament, with every other ACC team having two or three conference games remaining, likely opponents are still up in the air, but the seed the Irish will have looks almost set. A win would guarantee the Irish the fifth seed, while a defeat would place the Irish either sixth or seventh, the latter requiring Syracuse to defeat two top-five teams in Boston College and North Carolina, as well as Louisville.
The game will also serve as Notre Dame’s Daughters for Dads fundraiser game, with money raised for Notre Dame’s Harper Cancer Research Institute.
The Irish and the Blue Devils will meet at Arlotta Stadium on Sunday. Opening draw is scheduled for 1 p.m.