ND Women’s Lacrosse
No. 8 Notre Dame extends undefeated season with 18-6 rout of Vanderbilt
Elizabeth Greason | Friday, March 22, 2019
No. 8 Notre Dame continued to roll deeper into its undefeated season as it stormed over Vanderbilt on Wednesday evening.
In a game that began close, the Irish (9-0, 2-0 ACC) soon clicked into high gear and separated themselves from the Commodores (7-2, 0-0 SEC), led, as usual, by sophomore midfielder Andie Aldave, the reigning ACC offensive player of the week.
Aldave finished the game against Vanderbilt with five goals on five shots, and nine draw controls, leading the Irish to a 19-6 win in the draw control game. Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny said Aldave has been a dominant force this season, but she also elevates the play of her teammates.
“She’s everything we thought we were going to get from her — and more — in recruiting. She’s a pure competitor,” Halfpenny said of Aldave. “She competes, she’s one of the best in the country at making adjustments and she’s one of the best teammates that anybody could ask for. This is selfless play. She does what has to be done to get the W; that’s all she cares about. We’re just very, very fortunate to have her wearing the Notre Dame uniform, representing us the way she does and performing on a consistent basis. She makes everybody around her better, and I think she’d say the same thing about everyone around her making her better.”
The first score of the game did not come for nearly eight minutes — an eternity in lacrosse — but both teams found themselves on the brink on multiple occasions. Irish senior goalkeeper Samantha Giacolone made a diving save to prevent the Commodores from scoring, and the Irish used the momentum to put the first point on the board: Sophomore attack Maddie Howe was awarded a free-position shot and completed a pass to senior attack Nikki Ortega, who was in motion sweeping in from the left side and sent the ball directly to the back-right corner of the net.
Vanderbilt tied the game with a goal that followed six minutes later, courtesy of freshman attack Maddie Souza, but the game sat tied at one goal apiece halfway through the first period. However, Kathleen Roe used her speed and agility to outpace most of the Vanderbilt squad down the field after winning a draw control, and the junior defender passed the ball off, leading to second Irish goal of the game, as Ortega scored again on the assist from junior midfielder Savannah Buchanan, coming in close as time ticked low on the shot clock.
“Today’s keys to the game we nailed,” Halfpenny said. “We said the draw control was going to be critical because Vanderbilt is a handful on offense, so we wanted to limit their touches and we did.”
The Commodores tied the game again on a free-position shot, but Aldave did not let the game stay knotted for long. The sophomore came in from the left, unassisted, and ripped a sidearm shot near the 8-meter circle, putting the Irish up 3-2 with just under 11 minutes left in the half. Vandy junior attack Emily Mathewson received a pass from sophomore attack Gabby Fornia, scoring over Giacolone to tie the game again, but the 3-3 tie spurred a 4-0 run from the Irish to close out the half.
Buchanan netted her first goal of the game with 6:51 remaining in the period, sending the shot low, near Vanderbilt redshirt-junior goalkeeper Lily Argyle’s feet. The play evolved well as the Irish took their time and allowed the space for Buchanan’s shot to unfold without rushing. Two minutes later, Howe — Notre Dame’s leading scorer on the season so far — made a slick move, losing her goggles in the process but bouncing her shot shallow of the goal, directly up the middle and past Argyle to put the Irish up by two. Senior attack Samantha Lynch built on the momentum immediately, scoring just 21 seconds later on a free-position shot, prompting the Commodores to call a timeout with just under five minutes left in the period.
However, despite allowing the Commodores to regroup and even win their first draw control of the game courtesy of sophomore midfielder Elizabeth Scarrone, the Irish recovered and capped scoring on the half with an unassisted goal from Howe, who rolled in from the left and sent a shot low to put Notre Dame up 7-3.
In the second period, Halfpenny said the focus was on defensive adjustments.
“We thought that ground balls and second-chance opportunities were going to be massive,” she said. “We made great adjustments in the second half and ended up tipping the scales in the ground-ball war and the second-chance opportunities, the stops on defense that gave us more opportunity to finish with 36 shots, to finish with a nice 50 percent scoring.”
The Commodores struck first in the second period, but Aldave answered, sidearming an unassisted goal in from the left, near Argyle’s head. Vanderbilt scored again on a free-position shot fewer than 20 seconds later, and the two teams went on to trade possessions for five minutes until Halfpenny called a timeout.
Coming out of the timeout, the Irish took control, as — after two shots from freshman midfielder Hannah Dorney and Lynch went wide — junior midfielder Erin McBride netted her third goal of the season. Then, after preventing Vanderbilt from scoring on the following possession, Notre Dame scored three times in the space of a minute.
Buchanan charged straight in from the left on a free-position shot and bounced a goal in to put the Irish up 10-5. Aldave secured her hat trick, hitting an unassisted goal from the right side, and seconds later, freshman midfielder Madison Mote scored from near the box on a pass from freshman attack Mollie Carr as she was going to the ground. It was Mote’s first career goal and prompted her teammates to chant her name.
The Irish continued their offensive domination of the Commodores in the coming minutes, as Lynch connected with Aldave for a man-up goal and Mote scored her second goal of the game on a free-position shot. While Souza scored again for the Commodores, it was the furthest they would sink their teeth in for the rest of the game.
Sophomore goalkeeper Bridget Deehan came in to relieve Giacolone — who left the game with 10 saves — and the Irish did not let off the gas. Sophomore midfielder Katie Enrietto, Dorney, Aldave and Lynch all added goals to the Irish total, making it an 18-6 victory, as Dorney crossed over from the left and scored over the back shoulder, while Aldave made a spin move in both directions, putting her defenders through a rinse cycle before dropping to her knees to shoot and score.
Overall, Halfpenny said she was thrilled with the win.
“Seven-3 first half, 11-3 second half. I’m happy with our 60 minutes,” she said. “Next question. Eighteen to six. We’re pretty happy with where we stand.”
With the win over the Commodores, the Irish remain undefeated more than halfway through the season. Halfpenny attributes the start to the season to her squad’s unwavering focus.
“It’s all about effort for this group. We have 10 goals we’re trying to achieve every game. We’re typically hitting at least six of them per game, and sometimes it changes, which means it’s keeping the girls focused,” she said. “But it really comes down to relentless effort and contesting every play. … It’s kind of — I don’t want to say business — but it’s business for us, and consistency is what we’re after.”
Next up, the Irish will hit the road again to play No. 4 Syracuse on Sunday at noon.