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sports commencement 2021

‘Shocking effort’ leads to women’s NCAA tournament run

| Friday, May 21, 2021

Graduate student Samantha Lynch said before the NCAA tournament that for the Notre Dame Women’s Lacrosse team, the key to their game was to play with “shocking” effort. “We work so hard so that the other team is just shocked by how much effort we can give on all parts of the field,” Lynch said. This was surely the case for the Irish in a first round shutout against Robert Morrison, the first in the tournament’s history, and then another outstanding win against Virginia to push the Irish forward into the quarterfinals. 

It wasn’t an easy season for the Irish, and they fought through tough games to end with an 11-6 record and the fifth seed in the tournament. This season was unlike any prior. With COVID shutting down last year’s season and significantly altering this one, the team has been unable to bond the way they normally would, as Lynch said they “haven’t been able to have the same level of communication and regular interaction with our teammates that we usually do in the locker room and dinners.”

Lynch reminisced on this past season. “One of the best games for us was that first one against Vanderbilt,” she said. “We hadn’t played in over a year and it was just a lot of fun to get back on the field.” Notre Dame won that game 19-5, with Lynch herself scoring five goals. Sophomore Kasey Choma and graduate student Jessi Masinko scored five and four goals respectively.  

But this was not the end of their high-scoring season. Choma led the team with 38 goals and 42 points, while graduate student Savannah Buchanan caused 27 turnovers. In addition, six players earned All-ACC accolades for the 2021 season. Senior Bridget Deehan and Lynch earned First Team honors while sophomore Madison Ahern, senior Maddie Howe and Choma earned Second Team honors. Freshman Keelin Schlageter was named to the ACC All-Freshman Team. These are the most honorees that the women’s lacrosse team has earned since 2014. This team is not ready to stop now and on May 22 they will face fourth seeded Boston College with a spot in the semifinals on the line.

While the Irish did not make it far in the ACC tournament, they hope for better luck in the quarterfinals. The Eagles won the first two match-ups between the two teams 19-11 and 18-12. To win this game the Irish must continue with their tournament strategy and come out with “shocking” effort as Lynch put it.

This winning streak can not be lost as they go into the quarter-finals and they must use this momentum through the summer and into the next season.  Astonishing effort for a full 60 minutes is the only way the Irish can keep this winning streak. Boston College, and future teams, will make sure to take advantage of any opportunity that the Irish allow.  

While this is many on the team’s final few games, with the new COVID eligibility rules many who were supposed to graduate are able to return. Although yet to be official, many seniors are applying through the MBA and MSBA program to continue to play for the Irish and make up for memories and time lost due to the pandemic. 

Although this season was both physically and mentally challenging, Samantha Lynch was the first one to say how much COVID has changed her perspective on the game. 

“I think it just has reminded us to be really grateful for all the time we have together and on the field playing lacrosse because of how quickly it was taken away from us,” Lynch said. After over a year of pandemic, enjoying the little things is not something that anyone — especially the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team — will let slip by. 

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