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Irish start season in convincing fashion

| Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team opened its season on the right note this past weekend, notching two blowout wins and outscoring opponents 40-8 overall. The Irish played (2-0) their season opener Friday afternoon in Milwaukee at Marquette University, where they won 19-4. The Irish returned from their quick road trip to face off against Canisius College Sunday. In Loftus Fieldhouse, Notre Dame played its home-opener and won in resounding fashion again, this time emerging victorious with a 21-4 score.

Friday, the Irish got out to a fast start, netting a goal just 74 seconds into the game. Sophomore attacker Maddie Howe was assisted by sophomore midfielder Andie Aldave to open the scoring. The two then switched roles, and Howe assisted Aldave to take a 2-0 lead. The Irish added six more goals, taking a commanding lead of 8-0 before the Golden Eagles (1-1) scored their first goal with 5:44 left in the first half. Aldave scored an unassisted goal in the final two minutes of the first half, raising the score to 9-1 as the teams went into the break.

Chris Collins | The Observer
Irish sophomore midfielder Andie Aldave looks to drive to the cage in Arlotta Stadium.

The offensive and defensive prowess of the Irish was just as strong in the second half. The team added 10 more goals and gave up only three, winning by a final score of 19-4. Senior attacker Samantha Lynch lead the team in scoring with six goals and one assist. Junior attacker Jessi Masinko scored four goals and had two assists, while freshman midfielder Mollie Carr scored three goals in her Notre Dame debut. Howe and Aldave also scored three goals to round out the scoring for the Irish.

Head coach Christine Halfpenny was very happy with the team’s execution. “It was all effort based and it was all about controlling the ball and tempo,” Halfpenny said. “Taking care of all the loose balls, winning the draw game, winning the ground ball game and being relentless in each play … We feel like we took [Marquette] completely out of their game by controlling the tempo and just having way more time of possession.”

The team’s execution carried over to Sunday afternoon’s game against the Griffins (0-1). Notre Dame jumped out to a commanding 5-0 lead, before exchanging a few goals with Canisius for the final 10 minutes prior to going into halftime with a reduced, albeit comfortable 10-3 lead.

Canisus opened the scoring in the second half with a quick goal in the first 90 seconds. The Irish answered back with an offensive onslaught, scoring 11 goals while shutting out the Griffins for the remainder of the game to win 21-4.

Lynch again lead the Irish in scoring with five goals, tallying an impressive 11 goals on the weekend. Howe and senior attacker Nikki Ortega both had three goals and two assists. Eight other players scored for the Irish in what was a much more balanced team win than Friday’s game. Among those eight scorers was freshman attacker Cailin Field, who netted her first collegiate goal.

Halfpenny credits the high scores by the Irish to the team’s aggressive play on both sides of the field this weekend.

“Being relentless in the ride — the transition game — while we’re riding on defense and pushing the ball on offense,” Halfpenny said. “I was really pleased with both facets of the game and I think that it actually gave us momentum and again more possessions, so we were really able to control the tempo and have a lot of fun out there with a ton of time possession.”

Halfpenny also highlighted the importance of both the offensive and defensive units playing off of one another.

“I think that that while our best offense does start with our defense, also our best defense starts with our offense, so we’re seeing a great continuity where they’re all reliable and have each other’s backs,” she said. “Defense pushes that fast break, offense finishes it — offense rides hard. We forced them into a lot of 50-second possessions as opposed to 90 seconds or 80 seconds. I think we’re very pleased with that and generating a lot of opportunity for ourselves.”

The Irish look to carry the momentum of the weekend and generate opportunities both defensively and offensively as they prepare for Sunday’s game against the Liberty Flames in Lynchburg, Va. Game time is scheduled for 11 a.m.

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