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ND Women’s Lacrosse

Irish win season opener against Vanderbilt

| Wednesday, February 17, 2021

In their season opener, the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team defeated Vanderbilt with a score of 19-5. The team came out swinging, with three players scoring at least four goals each and graduate student attacker Samantha Lynch matching her career-high of seven points. Lynch was subsequently named ACC Offensive Player of the Week.

“I didn’t think it was going to actually happen,” sophomore midfielder Kasey Choma said about the game. “We talked to [Baltimore Ravens head coach] John Harbaugh right before the game, and something he told us was to ‘play with max effort.’ ‘Shocking effort’ actually were his words.”

The team translated this mentality into their gameplay. Choma said everything began to click for the squad.

“It was just fun,” she said.  “I think we just went out there with shocking effort and just played relentless, because we’ve just been waiting for this and we had fun with it, and it was just so amazing to see; having fun, playing with that max effort, and then the score came with it.”

The team wound up keeping Vanderbilt off the board for the first 18 and the last 19 minutes of the game. Choma said this was largely due to the defense, saying that this year’s defense was one of the best she has seen and that the hard work of their preseason paid off in those minutes. 

Choma said players like senior goalie Bridget Deehan, graduate student defenders Kathleen Roe and Kelly Donnelly and senior midfielder Diana Kelly took the younger players under their wing last year, and demonstrated their talents in practices. However, it was not until playing on the field with the seniors and graduate students that the team really was able to fully appreciate their skills.

“We knew how good they were,” Choma said. “But then once we really went out there and played as a collective unit on defense, it was just a rewarding feeling.”

Even though there was talent to spare on the field, Choma said the real standout was the sideline. 

“One of the most important things of that game was our sideline and how electric they were,” Choma said. “I was like, ‘Oh my goodness. They’re bringing all the energy right now. Time to produce for that.’”

This energy, Choma said, was largely cultivated during the preseason. Due to the pandemic, the team’s 2020 season was cut short. Saturday’s game against Vanderbilt was the first game the team has played in over 300 days. 

“Last year was really hard just because as a team, we knew we were very confident in ourselves,” Choma said. “We were just so confident and ready for the season ahead, and getting it taken away just like that was probably one of the hardest things ever.”

The cancellation subsequently caused alterations to preseason activities. The team was restricted to playing against each other as opposed to scheduled scrimmages against other schools, and several players had to quarantine throughout the semester.

Choma said the competition that resulted from playing each other elevated their game and helped them adopt a new mentality, understanding that anything can happen during the season.

“Handling the adversity I think was something that we did a good job of in the fall,” Choma said. “The competition amongst each other was unreal. We really pushed each other like no other. I was only here for one year before this, but compared to last year, I think the competition that we’ve had as a team definitely excelled.”

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About Emily DeFazio

Emily is a senior at the University of Notre Dame majoring in History and minoring in Italian and Digital Marketing. She serves as an Associate Sports Editor at The Observer.

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