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ND Women’s Lacrosse

ND aims for strong start and bounce-back season

| Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Women’s lacrosse at Notre Dame has been a model of consistency over the course of Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny’s tenure, regularly making the NCAA tournament. However, after failing to do so last season, the Irish are eager to right the wrongs of 2018.

Halfpenny, when asked about the team’s goals for the season, expressed an optimistic attitude toward the 2019 campaign.

“Well, we actually have some overarching goals for the future,” she said. “The first one actually is to start fast.”

A fast start would work wonders for Notre Dame, as the Irish have an opportunity to win some important games early on before a stretch of important clashes later on in the season against several teams in the preseason top-20 rankings, such as ACC foes Boston College, Syracuse and Duke.

The Irish start out the season in Milwaukee this Friday as they clash with Marquette. Coming off a good season, Marquette provides a more-than-capable challenge for the Irish and is not one Halfpenny is taking lightly.

“They are gritty, scrappy, I think they play hard, I think play to their game-plan and they are very well-coached,” Halfpenny said. “It’s a great opportunity for us to go on the road and have an opener against a somewhat familiar opponent.”

Observer File Photo
Irish senior goalie Samantha Giacolone guards the net against an oncoming attacker during Notre Dame’s 15-10 win over Marquette on Feb. 28 at Arlotta Stadium.

After one of the best seasons in their program, Marquette will come for the Irish, but it is a challenge that the Irish are more than ready to face head on. In fact, head on is just how the Irish like to play. Halfpenny will rely on the attacking instincts of her players, especially sophomores Maddie Howe and Andie Aldave. Last year, both started all 19 games and were two of the top-three scorers on the team. Attacker Howe raked in 55 points during her first season in collegiate lacrosse, scoring 40 goals and assisting on 15. She led the team in goals and points, becoming the first freshman since 2014 to score 40 goals. Her teammate Aldave contributed 45 points from her midfield position, while also dominating the draw. Aldave set the school record for draws in a single season with 98, making a strong impression on her coach, who complemented the midfielder.

“I think she was easily in the conversation for being one of the strongest midfielders in the country, alongside her McDonogh [High School] teammate [junior midfielder] Savannah Buchanan,” Halfpenny said.

As dangerous as the Irish are on attack, however, they are supported by a solid base in defense. Senior defender Hannah Proctor will look to keep opponents at bay, as she has done throughout her career with the Irish. Named a Preseason Honorable Mention All-American by Inside Lacrosse, Proctor has played all 38 games over the past two seasons, starting all but one. In that time, her strong performances have kept prospective attackers out of the net frequently. Behind Proctor, senior goalkeeper Samantha Giacolone has been a mainstay in the net since her freshman year. Coming off a season where she led the ACC in save percentage and was named First Team All-ACC, Giacolone will look to continue to provide quality goalkeeping for the Irish.

Leadership is key for any successful sports program. For leadership, Halfpenny will be looking toward the juniors and seniors, about whom she is very excited about and expects to step up to the challenge.

“They’ve seen a lot, they’ve been through a lot, they’re weathered in terms of understanding what the season feels like, what it entails, who our opponents are and how important every single game is,” Halfpenny said.

With a fairly young squad that contains six freshman and 10 sophomores, the team captains will be essential in maintaining a sense of stability and continuity in the attitudes of the team. And while it is no secret that the ACC is one of the strongest conferences for women’s lacrosse, with returning production all over the field, the Irish look to return as a threat in the conference this season.

Opening their respective seasons, the Irish and Golden Eagles are scheduled to face off Friday at 3 p.m. in Milwaukee.

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