April 11, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Only in a sport like lacrosse can two teams not see each other for six years and already be acquainted.
No. 10 Notre Dame’s women’s lacrosse team and No. 7 Duke face off Friday night at Arlotta Stadium in a contest that will hold significant implications for both the ACC and NCAA tournaments. The teams last met in 2008 but most of the people wearing the uniforms and on the sidelines will have already met.
Maddy Acton of Duke and Rachel Sexton of the Irish suited up together for Lincoln-Sudbury Regional in suburban Boston. Notre Dame’s Julia Giorgio and Duke’s Kerrin Maurer were teammates at St. Anthony’s on Long Island. Duke’s Sydney Peterson played at Notre Dame Prep in Maryland with Notre Dame’s Danielle Lukish. The McDonogh School in Maryland not only graduated Grace Muller, Hannah Rees and Margaret Smith of the Irish but it also saw Casey Black and Taylor Virden matriculate to Duke.
Those are just the high school teammates. You can connect a dozen more Fighting Irish and Blue Devils by considering club teams and all-star squads.
The gold medal-winning United States U-19 national team of 2011 had both of the expected starting goalies for Friday night’s game in Notre Dame’s Allie Murray and Duke’s Kelsey Duryea. That roster also included Cortney Fortunato and Barbara Sullivan on the Irish side and Acton, Brigid Smith and Taylor Trimble on the Blue Devil side.
Finally, Notre Dame head coach Christine Halfpenny used to carry a Duke business card, spending three years as an assistant coach in Durham from 2004-06 under current Blue Devil head coach Kerstin Kimel and while coaching current Duke assistant Kristen Waagbo. Due to the elite academic and athletic nature of both Notre Dame and Duke, many players were recruited at some point by both universities.
It’s a small world in women’s lacrosse, but also a competitive one. After some pregame handshakes and hugs, the intensity will ratchet up in a pivotal contest. Both teams enter at 8-5 and are hovering around the cut line to host one of the eight NCAA regionals. The teams are a game apart in the ACC standings with a victory likely proving key. The pecking order of the congested ACC table sees six of the country’s top 10 teams and a Virginia team that is ranked No. 16 and on the rise after knocking off Boston College on Thursday.
There will be much on the line between a lot of old friends on Friday night at Notre Dame. Fans who can’t make it out to Arlotta Stadium can catch it live online at ESPN3 or WatchESPN.com.