ND Women’s Lacrosse
Notre Dame travels to Chapel Hill to take on No. 2 UNC on Saturday
Olivia Schatz | Thursday, March 31, 2022
After a 12-15 loss to No. 8 Duke, the No. 22 Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team looks to come back against No. 2 University of North Carolina on Saturday. The Irish have endured a tough season, and with a 4-6 record and a schedule that doesn’t get any easier. Notre Dame must dig in as they head into the latter part of their season.
Typically, when a No. 22 faces a No. 2, all bets go towards the higher-ranked team. However, the Irish’s record does not indicate their talent. Out of the six losses this season, five have been to top 25 teams, and three of them were to top 10 teams. In addition, this past game against Duke was the first time the Irish lost by more than 2 goals since their second game of the season against Michigan. Notre Dame also has key wins against No. 26 Virginia, No. 27 Jacksonville and No. 30 Yale. With all of this in mind, the Irish do need to clean up their game if they hope to have a chance against the undefeated Tar Heels.
North Carolina has a deep and talented roster. Last year, the Tar Heels were favored to win the NCAA championship, and while they ended up losing to the eventual champs Boston College, they did more than enough to prove their competitive ability. They lost some key players such as Katie Hoeg, UNC’s all-time points and assists leader. However, the Tar Heels also retained three out of four of their top scorers. The Irish will also have to compete against a former teammate Saturday as Graduate Student midfielder Andi Aldave transferred this past season in addition to Sam Geiersbach from Richmond and Olivia Dirks from Penn State. With returning players and these crucial transfers, UNC boasts a stacked and intimidating roster.
With that, the Irish aren’t necessarily weak in comparison. Just last week, graduate student attack Maddie Howe earned ACC player of the week after her career-high seven goals against Yale. Junior attack Madison Ahern and sophomore midfielder Kasey Choma have 32 and 30 goals respectively on the season, and graduate student goalie Bridget Deehan has 87 saves this year. Other players like junior attack Jackie Wolak and senior midfielder Madison Mote add to the Irish’s points totals while graduate student midfielder Diana Kelly and sophomore midfielder Kelly Denes pull their weight on the defensive end.
To ensure success, the Irish need to do what they’ve struggled with all year: come out hot and maintain momentum the entire game. Against Syracuse, the Irish were outscored 6-2 in the first quarter. Going into the fourth quarter, the Irish were down 14-9; they were able to score 7 goals in the last quarter but were unable to seal the deal in overtime. Against Northwestern, the Irish scored two first-quarter goals to the Wildcat’s five. Conversely, against Virginia Tech, the Irish came out hot with eight goals in the first half but were unable to keep their steam into the second.
To be able to score, the Irish must also consistently secure the draw, something they have also had trouble with this season. UNC has won 61% of all draw controls this season, giving them an edge on possession. The Irish have won just about 55%. That 6% difference can be key in a game that comes down to one or two goals, just as many of Notre Dame’s games have.
Going into the weekend, Notre Dame must play a full 60 minutes and give it their all. If the Irish allow the Tar Heels the room for a run, they will take it, leaving the Irish playing catch-up the rest of the game. Although it is a daunting task, it is possible. And to stay relevant going into the last games of the season, it is necessary.
The Irish travel to Chapel Hill, NC to take on the Tar Heels at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 2.