ND Women’s Lacrosse
Irish recover from slow start, eye big postseason run
Olivia Schatz | Friday, May 13, 2022
The Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team finished their regular season on April 23 with a 15-14 win against Louisville. Although their season was up-and-down, they ended with a 9-9 overall record. However, the ACC faces the toughest schedule in the country. Six teams finished the season in the Top 20 by RPI.
Slow start, big rebound
This season saw the Irish dominate over teams like No. 21 Jacksonville (20-5) and Pittsburgh (19-7). They also beat No. 18 Virginia, 12-10. However, they lost some close games against highly ranked teams such as No. 3 Boston College, No. 13 Duke and No. 4 Northwestern. In addition, the Irish made it to the ACC semifinals where they lost to the eventual ACC champion and top-ranked UNC in a close 14-13 game. The Irish also upset Duke 19-11 in the quarterfinals. The No. 16 Irish now look forward to the NCAA tournament, where they will play No. 21 Michigan. Although the Irish are ranked higher than the Wolverines, Michigan beat Notre Dame 11-7 earlier in the season.
The Irish entered this season ranked as No. 4 after a resilient 2020-2021 season. However, after being unable to keep up with the tough competition, the Irish saw loss after loss, as well as their ranking dropped outside the Top 20 at some points. Even though their ranking was not as high, the Irish squad never lost heart. They ended the regular season with three straight wins. Their upset of Duke in the ACC Tournament proved enough to crack the NCAA Tournament field.
At the end of the season, four players earned All-ACC Honors. Junior midfielder Kasey Choma was placed on the All-ACC first team while graduate goalie Bridget Deehan and junior attack Madison Ahern were named All-ACC second team. Midfielder Grace Weigand earned a spot on the All-Freshman team. In addition to these four, the Irish roster was stacked with fierce competitors who are looking to have a long NCAA run.
While Choma has scored the most this season, with a whopping 57 goals to her name, Ahern has claimed the most points at 75 (56 goals, 19 assists). Choma played in every game this year, scoring in all and claiming a hat trick in 12. Her season-high came against Jacksonville, with eight goals. Choma and Ahern are both in the top 50 in the NCAA for goals per game. Deehan has 156 saves on the season, ranked 38th in the NCAA. Weigand is just getting her start, and while she has no goals to her name yet, she started in 17 games and won 10 draw controls. She also scooped 11 ground balls and notched two assists.
Irish lifted by depth, defense
Choma and Ahern are not alone on the offensive side of the field. Players like graduate student attack Maddie Howe, senior midfielder Madison Mote, junior attack Jackie Wolak and sophomore midfielder Mary Kelly Doherty all are crucial in adding points to the Irish scoreboard. Howe scored 35 goals this season. She earned offensive player of the week after assisting the Irish with seven goals in their victory over Yale. Howe also assisted the Irish in their win against Duke, scoring 4 goals.
Wolak might not have the highest number of goals, but she is the glue when it comes to assists. With 30 assists on the season and an additional 6 in the ACC quarterfinals, Wolak has a quick release and incredible ability to find girls in the middle of the eight. Mote and Doherty have 29 and 26 points on the season respectively.
While the attack gets most of the credit in the media, the Irish defense also holds a punch. Senior defender Hannah Dorney has 26 caused turnovers and 34 ground balls to her name. Graduate student defender Diana Kelly has 20 caused turnovers, 27 ground balls and 59 draw controls, second only to freshman midfielder Kelly Denes with 93. Other defenders like senior Meaghan Scutaro, sophomore Aine Maseker and sophmore Keelin Schlageter have all made major plays for the Irish.
The road ahead
Although the Irish roster is full of determined and capable players, they face a tough journey ahead. If the Irish beat the Wolverines, they will probably go on to play Northwestern. They dropped a one-goal decision to the Wildcats earlier this season. However, the Irish will not back down and will treat this game like any other before. Notre Dame looks to make program history and win the 2022 NCAA tournament. They’ve advanced past the quarterfinal stage just once in 13 tries. The Irish start their journey on Friday, May 13, against Michigan. The game will start at 8 p.m. and will be on neutral turf in Evanston, Illinois.