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ND Women’s Lacrosse

Notre Dame looks to keep tournament hopes alive with midweek clash at Albany

| Wednesday, April 18, 2018

No. 20 Notre Dame made a late change to its schedule, adding a Wednesday road trip to Albany.

The midweek game gives the Irish (8-7, 3-4 ACC) another chance to boost their resume and try to ensure an above .500 regular-season record, which would make the team eligible for NCAA tournament play. The Irish only need to win one of their two remaining regular season games to do so, though further wins may be necessary to secure a tournament spot for the seventh consecutive year.

After a last-minute victory over Duke to secure a 3-4 conference record, however, Notre Dame’s chances of a tournament berth look on the up again. Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny, whose teams have made the tournament each of the six previous seasons she has been at the helm for Notre Dame, said it was important for her team to have another chance to showcase all the work they’ve put in to improve recently.

“The last two weeks, we’ve had just one game a week, and we’ve got great weeks of practice in to work on us, to fine tune, to answer questions and to really work things out — to really put our game together,” Halfpenny said. “So last week was big. Last week was really a work of learning and prepping, and now this is a week of competition. This is a week of showcasing all the work we’ve put in.”

Chris Collins | The Observer
Irish freshman midfielder Andie Aldave makes a pass during Notre Dame’s 15-10 win over Marquette on Feb. 28 at Arlotta Stadium.

The extra game also gives Irish freshman midfielder Andie Aldave a greater chance to make history. Aldave has recorded 84 draw controls this year, just one short of Barbara Sullivan’s single-season program record of 85. After tough battles in the last two Irish games against Northwestern’s senior attack Shelby Fredericks and Duke’s junior attack Olivia Jenner, each of whom average over eight draw controls per game — Jenner ranks in the top five in the category, while Fredericks does not qualify having only played 11 games — Aldave will hope for an easier opportunity to win possessions against the Great Danes (6-7, 5-0 America East), who are led in draw controls by freshman midfielder Kendra Harbinger, who has 44 in 13 games. Irish freshman midfielder Maddie Howe also has a chance to add to an impressive opening campaign, as she has already scored 34 goals and added 12 assists this season.

“Obviously, they’ve been a big part of the team,” Halfpenny said of the two freshmen, Aldave and Howe. “They came into a team that graduated a lot of seniors, not just last year but in each of the last two years. We’re building ourselves up, and we needed some youthful newcomers. But they came in and have done a great job, which is super exciting.”

The Great Danes have performed one of the most remarkable turnarounds in the nation this season. After starting the year ranked No. 18, Albany struggled out of the gate, losing each of their opening seven games. However, the Great Danes then defeated Fresno State before dominating their conference and have worked their way back up to a 6-7 record. Albany is hoping to keep that momentum going by defeating the Irish, with the opportunity to enter the regular-season finale against No. 1 Stony Brook.

The Great Danes offense is led by Harbinger and senior attack Emma Powlin, who each have scored 34 goals, while Powlin is also second on the team in assists with 13.

The Irish and the Great Danes will meet at John Fallon Field in Albany, New York, on Wednesday. Opening draw will be at 1 p.m.

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About Daniel O'Boyle

Daniel O'Boyle is a senior sports writer living in Alumni Hall, majoring in Political Science. He is currently on the Notre Dame Women's Basketball, Men's Tennis and Women's Soccer beats. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Daniel spends most of his free time attempting to keep up with second-flight English soccer and his beloved Reading FC. He believes Lonzo Ball is the greatest basketball player of all time.

Contact Daniel