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ND Women’s Lacrosse

Irish see bright future as youth grow and improve

| Friday, May 18, 2018

The Irish came into this season a young and inexperienced group. The team routinely started multiple underclassmen and found late-season success in the ACC, one of the most competitive leagues in the NCAA.

The Irish (10-9, 3-4 ACC) finished fifth in the ACC, pulling off a win over No. 4-seed Virginia in the first round of the ACC championship. Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny spoke highly of the team’s performance all season.

“There was a ton of growth. We had a year that showed great growth in our youth. There are some outstanding highlights and we built a resume that’s really exciting,” Halfpenny said. “Our home one-goal victories over Syracuse and Duke and beating Virginia in the ACC showed great growth. We have a lot to look forward to.”

The team’s three leading scorers were underclassmen: freshman midfielder Maddie Howe, freshman midfielder Andie Aldave and sophomore midfielder Savannah Buchanan. Buchanan was named to the all-ACC second team for her performance this season. Halfpenny said her team’s youth provided great opportunities for learning.

“Experience was something we didn’t have a lot of on the field at times,” Halfpenny said. “That’s something that takes time to garner, but when you see the top three scorers being two freshmen and a sophomore it just shows that we have a lot of talent and that the future is super bright.”

The team’s defense was anchored by its junior goalkeeper Samantha Giacolone. Giacolone was a first team All-ACC selection who led the ACC in save percentage with a .469 save percentage. She had five games with double-digit saves and anchored the team’s backline. Halfpenny was impressed with her goaltender’s play all season.

“Our goalkeeping was an area of strength for us. Having Sam come back with two full years of experience was huge,” Halfpenny said. “Sam was the anchor. She’s a strong, experienced communicator. That’s an area that we’re super excited about moving forward.”

The win over Virginia (10-10, 4-3) in the ACC tournament was an indicator of what the team could be capable of moving forward. The Irish were down 9-4 at halftime, but stormed back in the second half allowing just one goal to win the game 11-10. Halfpenny believed the team showed incredible grit in the win.

“Our win over Virginia in the ACCs was just awesome. We went into the half down and were able to come out and re-write our future. Some people may have thought that was it for us, but that was a wonderful opportunity for us to survive and advance in the postseason,” Halfpenny said. “It took a lot of guts, it took a lot of grit. Everyone contributed all over the field, it was really exciting to see us come away with that victory. It showed how strong we have become.”

The Irish just missed out on an NCAA tournament berth this season, despite UVA receiving a bid after falling to the Irish in the first round of the ACC tournament. While the Irish will be watching this year’s tournament from the sideline for the first time in Halfpenny’s tenure at Notre Dame, the young squad is hopeful to continue its momentum next season.

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