Head coach Christine Halfpenny leads her Irish into their second consecutive NCAA appearance.

Irish Set For NCAA First Round Battle With Stanford In Evanston

May 8, 2013


NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team is set to begin the 2013 NCAA Championship as the Irish head to Evanston, Ill., to meet Stanford at Northwestern’s Lakeside Field at 8 p.m. (ET) Friday in the first round. The winner will take on the No. 2 seeded Wildcats in the second round at 2 p.m. (ET) Sunday.

The matchup with the Cardinal marks the second of the season as the two teams also met Feb. 16 in Palo Alto, Calif., with the Irish making a remarkable second half comeback to win 12-10 in their season opener. Notre Dame was down 7-2 at half, but exploded for 10 second-half goals and limited the Cardinal to just three to earn the road victory. Grace Dooley, Lindsay Powell and Lauren Sullivan all scored twice for the Irish, while five others scored once to give Notre Dame eight different goal scorers for the game. The win gave the Irish a 1-0 start to the season for the 15th time in 17 seasons.

Notre Dame (12-4) last played April 27 when it defeated Marquette, 14-5, on senior day, while Stanford (13-5) won the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) title this past Saturday with a 7-6 win over top-seeded Denver. Since losing to the Irish, the Cardinal also lost to Georgetown (15-8), Denver (14-10), Northwestern (12-8) and UC Davis (15-14, OT), but beat fellow Notre Dame opponents Ohio State (12-10) and Vanderbilt (15-4).

The Cardinal boasts six all-MPSF standouts including four who made the first team. First teamers included Rachel Ozer, Anna Kim, Hannah Farr and Megan Lerner, while Nina Swanson and Lucy Dikeou received second team accolades.

Northwestern (17-2) received the No. 2 seed after dropping Florida, 8-3, in the American Lacrosse Conference (ALC) title game Sunday just two weeks after losing 22-4 to the Gators on Florida’s senior day.

The Wildcats defeated the Irish 10-8 April 24 at Arlotta, but the contest proved to be the closest matchup between the two teams in nearly a decade as the two goal margin of victory was the closest since a similar 10-8 score in the first round of the 2004 NCAA Championship. In that contest the Irish were down 9-4 before scoring four of the final five goals of the contest. Notre Dame held a 10-9 edge in the draw circle to help keep the game close.

The winner of the Northwestern region will play the winner of the Penn State bracket in the quarterfinals May 18 or 19. The Penn State bracket features the seventh seeded Nittany Lions, Canisius, Massachusetts and Connecticut with action in University Park, Pa.

The Irish are making the eighth NCAA appearance in the program’s history. Five of the trips have been to Evanston as the Irish played the Wildcats in the first round in 2004, 2008, 2010 and 2012.

Last year the Irish fell to the Wildcats, 12-7, in a game that was much closer than the final score indicated. Notre Dame has lost to the eventual national champion three times in NCAA Championship action.

All-time, the Irish are 4-7 with three quarterfinal appearances (last 2009) and one Final Four showing in 2006.

Fans will be able to follow the matchup with the Cardinal through game tracker and live video stream. The stream is free of charge and will be broadcast through the Northwestern website with student commentators. Links for both can be found on UND.com.

Facebook (Facebook.com/NDWLAX) and Twitter (@NDWomensLax) updates will also be available throughout the game.

Tickets can be purchased at the Lakeside Field ticket booth on game day for $8 (adults), $5 (senior citizens, students and youth) and $1 (infants).

The 2013 NCAA Championship is the first with 26 teams as 13 conference champions received automatic berths and 13 others receive at-large spots.

All first and second round action will take place this weekend with the quarterfinals set for May 18 or May 19. The 2013 NCAA Final Four will take place Friday, May 24 and Sunday, May 26 at Villanova Stadium in Philadelphia, Pa.

Notre Dame NCAA History

2002 – Quarterfinals (1-1)

#7 Notre Dame 11, #2 Ohio State 7

#1 Princeton 11, #7 Notre Dame 5

2004 – First Round (0-1)

#8 Northwestern 10, #9 Notre Dame 8

2006 – Semifinals (2-1)

#7 Notre Dame 16, #10 Cornell 8

#7 Notre Dame 12, Georgetown 9

#8 Dartmouth 14, #7 Notre Dame 8

2008 – First Round (0-1)

#1 Northwestern 15, #10 Notre Dame 7

2009 – Quarterfinals (1-1)

#6 Notre Dame 19, #12 Vanderbilt 13

#3 North Carolina 16, #6 Notre Dame 10

2010 – First Round (0-1)

#2 Northwestern 19, #14 Notre Dame 7

2012 – First Round (0-1)

#2 Northwestern 12, #8 Notre Dame 7


All-Region Performers

Five Irish student-athletes earned IWLCA West/Midwest All-Region honors Tuesday … Ellie Hilling, Margaret Smith and Barbara Sullivan received first team accolades, while Jenny Granger and Stephanie Peragallo earned second team honors … the all-region scrolls were the first for Granger, Hilling and Peragallo, while Smith and Sullivan were honored for the second year in a row … ND has had 63 all-region performers, including 36 first team standouts since 1999.

All-BIG EAST Standouts

Five Irish standouts earned all-BIG EAST honors last week at the conference awards banquet … Jenny Granger, Ellie Hilling, Margaret Smith and Barbara Sullivan received first team accolades, while Jaimie Morrison earned second team honors … the all-BIG EAST scrolls were the first for Granger, Hilling and Morrison, while Smith and Sullivan were honored for the second year in a row … ND has 34 first teamers and 62 overall selections since the league formed in 2001.

Unsung Hero

Notre Dame junior Molly Shawhan is a finalist for a very prestigious and special award – the Yeardley Reynolds Love Unsung Hero Award, which celebrates the selfless acts of initiative and commitment performed by Division I lacrosse players … Shawhan is one of five finalists and the winner will be announced in late May.

Close Losses

After starting 10-0 the Irish have hit a rough patch as of recently, losing four of their last six games … however, all four losses have come in close fashion … Notre Dame has lost all four games by a total of nine goals, an average of 2.25 per game … all the losses came against top-20 teams and 2013 NCAA Championship participants.

Leader of the Defense

Barbara Sullivan may only be a sophomore, but she is playing like a senior as she leads the team in ground balls (49) and draw controls (62) and is second in caused turnovers (32) … the 62 draw controls puts her in first place in school history for a single season, while she is now tied for eighth in caused turnovers and just on the outside of the top 10 in ground balls … she is first in the BIG EAST and seventh nationally in ground balls per game (3.06), sits third in the league and 23rd nationally in draw controls per game (3.88) and is second in the conference and 10th nationally in caused turnovers per game (2.00) … Sullivan has also taken matters into her own hands on the offensive end this season, scoring the first two goals and dishing out the first assist of her career during opportune moments … for her impressive season, Sullivan earned first team all-BIG EAST honors and was named a Tewaaraton Trophy nominee … finalists for the game’s top honor as well as all-region and All-America selections will come out over the next month.

Senior Leader In The Cage

Senior goalie Ellie Hilling brings a wealth of experience to the Notre Dame defense as she is in her fourth year as starter … 16 games into the 2013 season, Hilling is first in school goalie history in minutes played (4,091:58), games played (70), wins (44) and saves (522) … she is also second in goals against average (9.79) and seventh in save percentage (.439) … last year the Rochester, N.Y., native had seven games with 10-plus saves, including a career-high 16 in wins over Ohio State and Georgetown … this year she has five games with 10 or more saves, including stopping 12 shots in a 10-8 win at Duquesne, 12 more in a 14-2 win over Villanova and a season-high 14 in a 13-12 win over then-No. 8/8 Georgetown … for her efforts against Rutgers and Villanova, where she allowed an average of four goals a game and produced a .714 save percentage in the two wins, Hilling earned a spot on the BIG EAST’s Weekly Honor Roll for the first time this season … after recording 26 total saves in a 14-13 2OT loss to Loyola and the win over the Hoyas, Hilling reemerged on the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll … she has stopped five or more shots in 12 of the 16 games, including five of the last six, and has two or more ground balls in eight games including seven of the last 12, including tying her career high with six against Georgetown … Hilling is first in the league in save percentage (.463), second in saves a game (7.06) and third in goals against average (8.87).

Dynamic Freshmen

The Irish have been fortunate to see quality minutes from a plethora of true freshmen so far this season … Stephanie Toy leads all freshmen with 10 goals, while Stephanie Peragallo has 37 ground balls, six draw controls and 31 caused turnovers … those numbers place her second on the team in GBs and third in CTs … she is also third in the BIG EAST in caused turnovers … others seeing big minutes on the field are Kiera McMullan (6G, 5A), Brie Custis (4G, 6A, 12 DC) and most recently Hanna Hartman, who had five ground balls and a caused turnover against the Hoyas April 14 … Toy, Custis and Peragallo have played in all 16 games.

Career Records Watch

Jenny Granger: 89 career goals (10th place); 49 career assists (T-9th place) … Ellie Hilling: 150 career ground balls (fourth place) … Margaret Smith: 103 draw controls (T-7th place); 79 caused turnovers (seventh place) … Barbara Sullivan: 94 draw controls (ninth place).

Single-Season Records Watch

Sophomore Barbara Sullivan has collected draw controls at a record pace this season, scooping up 62 to become the single-season leader in Irish history … she passed assistant Jill Byers in the game against Northwestern … Byers had 55 in 2009 … she is also tied for ninth in caused turnovers with 32 … junior Margaret Smith’s 33 caused turnovers put her in eighth place in school history for a single season.

A Smothering Defense

While the Notre Dame offense has done its part on the opponent’s end of the field, the Irish defense has proved to be pesky and sometimes smothering to the opponent’s offense … the Irish are allowing just 8.75 goals a game, which puts them 20th in the country … ND is first in the BIG EAST in caused turnovers (11.56), ground balls per game (19.38) and save percentage (.468) and fifth in draw controls (12.19) … in those same categories the Irish are third in CT, fifth in GB and 42nd in DC in the country, while senior goalie Ellie Hilling is 12th in the country in save percentage (.467).

NCAA Stats Watch

Checking around the NCAA top 25, several Irish performers find their name in the national rankings … goalie Ellie Hilling is 21st in goals-against average (8.87) and 12th in save percentage (.467) … sophomore defender Barbara Sullivan is seventh in ground balls per game (3.06), 10th in caused turnovers a game (2.00) and 23rd in draw controls per game (3.88) … junior midfielder Margaret Smith is eighth in caused turnovers per game (2.06), while freshman defender Stephanie Peragallo sits 13th (1.94) … as a team the Irish are 20th in scoring offense with 12.50 goals per game and in scoring defense, allowing only 8.75 goals per game … the scoring margin of 3.75 goals per game puts ND 16th … the Irish are also third in caused turnovers per game (11.56) and fifth in ground balls per game (19.38).

BIG EAST Stats Watch

Notre Dame is first in the BIG EAST in assists per game (6.56), ground balls per game (19.38), caused turnovers per game (11.56) and save percentage (.468) … individually, Lauren Sullivan is tied for first in game-winning goals (4), Barbara Sullivan is first in ground balls per game (3.06) and Margaret Smith is first in caused turnovers per game (2.06) … the Irish have three players in the top five in caused turnovers per game … Smith (1st – 2.06), Sullivan (2nd – 2.00) and Peragallo (3rd – 1.94).

Jack Of All Trades

Junior All-American and Tewaaraton Award Watch List member Margaret Smith has shown that she can do just about everything on the field so far this season as she has scored 14 goals, collected 35 ground balls and 35 draw controls and caused 33 turnovers … in a 13-8 home win over Ohio State, the Westminster, Md., native had a monster game, scoring four goals on five shots, collecting four ground balls and three draw controls and causing five turnovers … for efforts for the week of Feb. 25 – March 3, Smith earned BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week honors … Smith also earned a spot on the weekly honor roll after she totaled eight ground balls and nine caused turnovers in games against Northwestern and Marquette.

Seniors Leading On Offense

Seniors Jenny Granger and Jaimie Morrison and have shown so far this season that they are the leaders of the Irish offensive attack … they sit one and two on the team in points, goals and assists as Granger has 53 points (31G, 22A), while Morrison has 45 points (26G, 19A) … Granger earned first team all-BIG EAST honors, while Morrison garnered second team accolades … Morrison has been placed on the BIG EAST’s Weekly Honor Roll three times after impressive performances … the first was for the week of Feb. 25 – March 3 where she scored four goals and dished out four assists as ND went 2-0 … the second was for the week of March 4-March 10 where she recorded six goals, two assists, three ground balls and a caused turnover in two Irish wins … the final came after the Yorktown Heights, N.Y., native turned in a sterling performance in a 16-15, 2OT win at Louisville, recording nine points (4G, 5A) to tie for third in ND history for points in a game and tie for second in program history for points in a road game … Granger has found herself on the weekly honor roll once, after scoring four goals and dished out three assists during a 2-0 weekend for the Irish against then-No. 19/RV Rutgers and Villanova March 22 and March 24 … Granger is fourth in assists per game (1.38), tied for sixth in points per game (3.31) and ninth in goals per game (1.94) … Morrison, meanwhile, is eighth in the league in assists per game (1.27) and 10th in points per game (3.00).

Comeback Kids

This season the Irish have made a habit of staging second half comebacks … in four of its 12 wins Notre Dame has trailed at the half … these include 7-2 at Stanford (Feb. 16), 5-3 at Duquesne (March 2), 8-4 versus Boston University (March 9) and 7-6 versus Louisville (April 5) … in the first three contests the Irish came out blazing, out-scoring the competition by a wide margin in the second frame, while against the Cardinals the Irish claimed a 2OT win … Notre Dame outscored Stanford, 10-3, Duquesne, 7-3, and Boston, 12-3, in the second half to earn victories in each game … the Irish also trailed 6-5 early in the second half of the game against Vanderbilt before coming back to win 12-11 in Nashville over the Commodores.

Second Half Team

As referenced in the previous note, the Irish have been a second half team all season … the numbers back it up too as the Irish hold a slim 83-75 edge in goals scored in the first half but have dominated in the second half, 114-62 … the total goes from +8 in the first half to +52 in the second half … more shots are the obvious reason for the big disparity … in the first half Notre Dame has taken 210 shots, while the opponents have taken 193 … in the second half the Irish have taken 225, while limiting their opponents to just 167, a difference of 58 … quality shots (aka shots on goal) show a big disparity too as Notre Dame leads in the first half 159-142 in shots, but 176-117 in the second half, a difference of 59.

Tough Schedule

The matchups at No. 5/5 Syracuse and at No. 19/RV UConn and the home contests against No. 13/18 Ohio State, No. 19/RV Rutgers, No. 17/20 Loyola, No. 8/8 Georgetown and No. 4/4 Northwestern gave Notre Dame seven ranked challenges during the regular season … the Irish have played five teams that ended 2012 ranked (Ohio State, Loyola, Georgetown, Northwestern and Syracuse) and three NCAA Championship teams (Loyola, Syracuse, Northwestern) … Northwestern won the title, Syracuse was runner up and Loyola made the quarterfinals … Notre Dame just finished a stretch where it is playing five ranked teams in a row – Loyola, Georgetown, Syracuse, Connecticut and Northwestern … in the May 6 deBeer Media Poll, five Irish opponents show up in the rankings – No. 2 Northwestern, No. 5 Syracuse, No. 6 Georgetown, No. 16 Loyola and No. 19 UConn … Stanford is receiving votes.

Second Year For Halfpenny

The transition year from William & Mary to Notre Dame is over for second-year head coach Christine Halfpenny, although she didn’t seem to have too much trouble transitioning in her first season, as the Irish jumped out to an 8-0 start on their way to a 13-5 season in which they qualified for the BIG EAST and NCAA Championships … the 13 regular-season wins tied for first in school history, while the 13 wins overall tied for third in school history … this year ND got off to an 10-0 start and is currently 12-4, which puts her 25-9 (.735) through 34 games leading the team.

Starting The Season Undefeated

Notre Dame jumped out to a 10-0 start for only the second time in school history … the Irish joined the 2004 (10-0) in that exclusive club … the Irish were one of the final two teams to begin the year unbeaten along with No. 1 Maryland (16-0) … the strong start marks the second year in a row that head coach Christine Halfpenny has gotten her team off on the right foot … last year ND opened the 2012 campaign at 8-0 … the Irish also began the BIG EAST season at 4-0, which tied the 2002 squad for the best start in conference play.

Record Setter

Sophomore Barbara Sullivan played a key roll in Notre Dame’s 12-11 come-from-behind win over Vanderbilt as she dominated the draw control in the second half … the Garden City, N.Y., native collected nine to tie a school record for draw controls in a game … she also had a team-high five ground balls … for her efforts she was named to the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll for the second consecutive week.

A Game For The Ages

Sullivan turned in arguably one of the best games by a defender in Notre Dame history against Boston University (March 9) as she tallied a career-high eight ground balls and a career-high five turnovers … she also added two draw controls and dished out her first career assist … one memorable play to start the second half saw Sullivan cause a turnover, claim the ensuing ground ball, dart several yards up the field and pass the pall to teammate Jaimie Morrison, who put the ball in the back of the net just 45 seconds into the half to begin the Irish comeback … for her efforts she earned a spot on the BIG EAST Weekly Honor Roll.

Record-Setting Night

In Notre Dame’s 22-1 win over Detroit March 5 a pair of school records were reached as the Irish handled the Titans … the 22 goals tied the school record for goals in a home game … the 21 goal margin of victory was the most in program history, topping last year’s Senior Day win over Cincinnati (22-2) … the one goal allowed tied for the second fewest in school history … the Irish defeated Loyola, 11-1, in 2007 and shut out Villanova, 16-0, in 2010.

Home Openers Friendly For The Irish

With a 13-8 win over No. 13/18 Ohio State Feb. 27, Notre Dame improved to 11-6 all-time in home openers … Notre Dame has now won both home openers under second-year head coach Christine Halfpenny … last year the Irish defeated No. 6 Stanford, 17-14.

Tewaaraton Award Watch List

Junior Margaret Smith and sophomore Barbara Sullivan were named to the Tewaaraton Award Watch List Feb. 23 … the duo were on the list with 50 fellow student-athletes, including 45 from Division I schools … the pair was only two of seven from BIG EAST schools … the award goes to the best player in women’s lacrosse … last year Maggie Tamasitis was named a Tewaaraton Award Nominee.

Another Season-Opening Win

Notre Dame improved to 15-2 all-time in season openers with its 12-10 win over Stanford Feb. 16.

Peragallo Honored

For her efforts on the defensive end in Notre Dame’s win over Stanford, freshman Stephanie Peragallo earned BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week honors … she was the first Irish player to earn defensive player of the week accolades since Ellie Hilling in 2012 after a monster 13-save, six-ground ball and two-caused turnover performance at Ohio State.

Captains Named

Head coach Christine Halfpenny named senior Jenny Granger and junior Margaret Smith as co-captains of this year’s squad … Granger, a three-time monogram winner, scored 20 goals, dished out 12 assists, scooped up 14 ground balls and 10 draw controls and caused eight turnovers last season … Smith, a preseason all-BIG EAST selection, is coming off a sophomore campaign where she was named third team IWLCA All-American and first team all-BIG EAST and IWLCA West/Midwest all-region after collecting 37 ground balls and 47 draw controls and causing 31 turnovers.

Trio Honored By BIG EAST

Juniors Lindsay Powell and Margaret Smith and sophomore Barbara Sullivan were named to the preseason all-BIG EAST team … Smith and Sullivan were unanimous selections … Powell was a second team all-BIG EAST and IWLCA West/Midwest all-region performer last year … Smith was an IWLCA third team All-American and a first team all-BIG EAST and IWLCA West/Midwest all-region honoree … Sullivan was a first team IWLCA West/Midwest all-region and second team all-BIG EAST performer.

Talented Freshmen

Among the 10 freshmen that are seeing their first action for Notre Dame in the spring, are a pair of standouts that were named to Lacrosse Magazine’s “Freshman 15” … the two Stephanies, Stephanie Toy and Stephanie Peragallo, were each honored by the magazine back in September.

Team USA

Junior Margaret Smith, sophomore Barbara Sullivan and assistant coach Jill Byers all reached the final round of qualifying for the US National Team this summer … Byers played for four years on Team USA, while Sullivan was on the 2011 U.S. women’s national under-19 team that won a gold medal at the U-19 Women’s Lacrosse World Championship in Hanover, Germany.

Replacing An Impressive Senior Class

When eight student-athletes concluded their eligibility last season, the Irish lost some talented performers … among the most notable losses were IWLCA second team All-American Maggie Tamasitis and IWLCA second team West/Midwest all-region performer Megan Sullivan … Tamasitis ended her career as the school’s all-time leader in assists in a half, game, season and career and finished fourth in points … last year Tamasitis had 82 of Notre Dame’s 348 points or almost 24% … Sullivan had a breakout senior year by doing a little bit of everything in the middle of the field … she scored 24 goals, collected 23 ground balls and 27 draw controls and caused 15 turnovers … Sullivan earned second team all-BIG EAST in addition to all-region accolades, while Tamasitis was named first team in both categories.

Homecoming For A Pair Of ND Lacrosse Alums

With the addition of new assistants Jill Byers and Jake Marmul, head coach Christine Halfpenny brought in two new coaches with deep Notre Dame roots. Byers, a four-time All-American, is a 2009 graduate that still holds a plethora of school records including goals and points in a career … Marmul, a 2011 graduate, played for the men’s team and specialized in the face off.

Follow The Irish

Fans can follow the Irish in a multitude of ways through social media … ND WLAX is on Facebook at facebook.com/NDWLAX … on Twitter (@NDWomensLax) … coach Halfpenny is also on Twitter (@NDcoachPenny) … on the web at UND.com/sports/w-lacros/nd-wlacros-body.html … on the blogs at ndlacrosse.wordpress.com … speaking of the blogs, senior Emily Conner will piggy back her summer series “Lax In The City” with a season-long blog entitled “No Time To ReLAX.”