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Irish prepare for big challenge against No. 13 Duke

| Friday, March 3, 2023

Notre Dame women’s lacrosse will face a major test Saturday when they travel to Charlotte, North Carolina to take on No. 11 Duke. 

The Blue Devils have gotten off to a strong start to the year so far, posting a 3-1 record over the opening month of the season. Opening with a three-game win streak, Duke recovered from a 17-8 loss to No. 4 Boston College with a bounce-back win over Liberty on Tuesday.

Katie DeSimone has gotten off to a torrid start for the Blue Devils, taking an early team lead in goals. With 19 tallies and seven assists, DeSimone has had a hat-trick in four of Duke’s five games so far this season.

The Irish, who themselves are coming off a key victory over an upstart Clemson side at home, are in search of their first ranked win of the season. Notre Dame was able to dispatch San Diego State and Central Michigan with ease but fell short of a potential upset of No. 3 Northwestern on the road.

Head coach Christine Halfpenny has emphasized the importance of her deep stable of veteran attacking options. And, the Irish scoring has been divided accordingly. Through four games, five different players have five or more goals. Draw control success has also been a major strength of Halfpenny’s squad. Notre Dame has won 78 draw controls on the year and has only lost 37.

The Duke game marks the start of an important stretch for an Irish squad looking to make a deeper tournament run than last season’s first-round exit. After Duke, the Irish stay on the road to face an even higher-ranked Syracuse Orange team.

In a deep ACC, results in either of those games away from home could allow the Irish to make an important early statement. The Irish showed plenty of grit against No. 3 Northwestern a few weeks back. Notre Dame took the lead in the opening minutes. Whenever the brilliance of Wildcat Izzy Scane seemed to put the game out of reach, the Irish didn’t relent.

Even when Northwestern amassed a nine-point lead late on in the fourth quarter, Halfpenny’s side kept battling. They unleashed an ultimately futile but spirited four-goal run in the final minutes in Evanston to turn a rout into a respectable finish against one of the nation’s best.

With games against the likes of North Carolina and Boston College, ranked No. 1 and  No. 2 in the nation, respectively, looming down the line, the schedule won’t get easier for the Irish going forward. Notre Dame isn’t expected to record a consistent string of successful results against national title contenders. But an upset somewhere along the gauntlet could go a long way in both boosting the national rankings of the Irish and establishing confidence heading into the NCAA tournament.

Notre Dame women’s lacrosse will take on Duke Saturday afternoon in Charlotte, North Carolina. The game is set to begin at 1:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra.

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About J.J. Post

J.J. Post is a senior in Fisher Hall. Hailing from Mountainside, New Jersey, he's currently working his way towards being the nation's foremost expert on college soccer. Whether via the button below or his overly active Twitter (@JayJayPost), feel free to reach out and talk about Notre Dame soccer, football, basketball, volleyball, baseball or softball. Or any other Notre Dame sport you can think of. Odds are he watches it as well.

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