Senior midfielder Jess Mikula was selected as the 2005 women's lacrosse team's Most Valuable Player in voting by her teammates.

Irish To Face #3 Northwestern In Home Opener On March 3

March 2, 2005

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Notre Dame heads into the second week of the young 2005 season with a pair of games on the docket. The Irish will get their first major test of the campaign when No. 3 Northwestern invades the Loftus Indoor Sports Center on Thursday, March 3 for a 4:30 p.m. contest. On Sunday, Notre Dame takes to the road for the first of three road tilts over spring break when the Irish visit Ithaca, N.Y., to face the Cornell Big Red. That game is scheduled for 12:00 noon. Notre Dame, ranked 20th in the IWLCA coaches’ preseason poll, started the season on Feb. 27 with a 16-10 win at Ohio University. Northwestern comes into the Irish home opener with a 3-0 record on the year. The Wildcats opened the year with a 6-5 win at No. 8 North Carolina then followed last weekend with wins over Oregon (21-2) and Denver (20-9) in Denver, Colo. Sunday’s game at Cornell will be the Big Red’s home opener. They were 6-9 on the year in 2004. Following the Cornell game, the Irish continue their three-game road trip with games at Vanderbilt (March 9) and at James Madison (March 13).


Notre Dame and Northwestern meet for the fifth time in the all-time series that is tied at two games each. Last season, Northwestern won both meetings. On April 20, the Wildcats won a 9-5 decision at Northwestern in a game played in monsoon-like conditions. On May 13, the two teams met in the first round of the NCAA tournament with Northwestern battling back from a 6-4 halftime deficit to defeat the Irish, 10-8, to move on to the NCAA quarterfinals. The Irish are 1-0 in home games with Northwestern, winning the lone home meeting, 13-9, on April 26, 2003.


Notre Dame and Cornell have met three times in the all-time series with Cornell holding a 2-1 edge. Last season, the Irish rolled to a 20-9 win over the Big Red at the Loftus Sports Center and are now 1-1 at Notre Dame vs. Cornell. The lone meeting at Cornell came in the 2003 season opener with the Big Red handing the Irish a 13-5 loss.

HEAD COACH Tracy Coyne:

Notre Dame head coach Tracy Coyne is in her ninth season as the head coach of the Irish and is the only coach in the program’s Division I history. Coyne owns a 70-48 (.593) record at Notre Dame and is 184-74 (.713) in her 18-year coaching career. In 2004, she led the Irish to a 12-5 record and a 4-2 mark in the BIG EAST, good for second in the league standings. Coyne also was selected as the 2004 BIG EAST coach of the year. Notre Dame advanced to the NCAA tournament for the second time in the last three years where the Irish lost to Northwestern, 10-8, in a first-round tournament game. The Pittsburgh, Pa., native led Denison (1988) and Roanoke (1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1996) to the NCAA Division III tournament during stops at those schools. A 1983 graduate of Ohio University, Coyne has coached on the international level as the head coach for the Canadian women’s lacrosse national team. She led the team to the medal round at the 2001 World Cup and will serve as head coach of Team Canada again for the 2005 World Cup. Coyne is 2-2 all-time versus Northwestern and 1-2 versus Cornell.


Junior Crysti Foote (Suffern, N.Y.) got her 2005 season off to a fast start in the 16-10 win over Ohio University. She scored a career-high five goals and eight points in the game to be named the BIG EAST offensive player of the week. She also received honorable mention for Inside Lacrosse national player of the week honors. Senior Jess Mikula (Chester, Md.) led Notre Dame’s defense in the win over Ohio. She grabbed three ground balls and had career highs in caused turnovers (4) and draw controls (5) in the victory. For her play, Mikula was named the BIG EAST defensive player of the week. It marked the first team either player has been selected one of the BIG EAST’s players of the week during their Notre Dame careers.


Notre Dame jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first five minutes and never looked back on the way to a 16-10 season-opening win at Ohio University on Feb. 27. Junior Crysti Foote led the Irish offense with five goals and three assists for a career-high eight-point game. Foote got help from sophomore midfielder Meghan Murphy (Centennial, Colo.) and freshman midfielder Caitlin McKinney (Lafayette Hill, Pa.) as both contributed four goals. Jackie Bowers (Sr., Springfield, Pa.), Lindsay Shaffer (Sr., Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and Heather Ferguson (Fr., Newtown Square, Pa.) each added a goal in the game. Bowers and Lena Zentgraf (Jr., Charlottesville, Va.) added a pair of assists each. Ohio cut the lead to 6-5 late in the first half, but Ferguson’s goal with two seconds left made it 7-5. The Irish scored the first three goals of the second half to build a 10-5 lead on the way to the 16-10 win. Carol Dixon (Sr., Pennsauken, N.J.) made nine saves in goal for Notre Dame.


The Irish will look to replace seven graduated seniors in 2005, including four all-BIG EAST and three IWLCA All-American standouts. Lost to graduation are first team All-American, Meredith Simon, who set a school record for points in a season with 74 (46 goals and 28 assists). A first team All-BIG EAST selection, Simon was the co-Attack Player of the Year in the conference. Also lost from the offense was third team All-American Abby Owen who had 34 goals and 11 assists for 45 points. She was a first team All-BIG EAST player and the conference’s Midfielder of the Year. The third All-American lost to graduation was defender Andrea Kinnik who was a first team All-BIG EAST choice and a second team All-American. Kinnik was the BIG EAST leader in ground balls and also led the Irish in that category along with caused turnovers. The fourth all-BIG EAST player who graduated was attack Lauren Fischer who was third in scoring with 28 goals and 13 assists for 41 points. Joining those four were midfielder Kassen Delano who was fifth in scoring with 20 goals and seven assists for 27 points, starting defender Kristen Gaudreau and attack Mia Novic.


Serving as captains for the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team in 2005 will be seniors Carol Dixon (Pennsauken, N.J.), Jess Mikula (Chester, Md.) and Lindsay Shaffer (Seneca Falls, N.Y.). Each player begins their first year as captains for the Irish.


Freshman midfielder Caitlin McKinney (Lafayette Hill, Pa.) became the first true freshman to score four goals in her first collegiate game for the Irish when she scored four in the season-opening win over Ohio University. Two other players in the program’s history scored five and four goals respectively in their first collegiate games, but were not freshmen. In the first game in the program’s history on March 12, 1997, Stephanie Fox scored five goals and Cara Buchanan had four in their first collegiate games. Fox was a sophomore and Buchanan was a senior in that first season.


Sophomore midfielder Meghan Murphy (Centennial, Colo.) had a career-high four goals and four points in the win over Ohio University. Her previous best was a three-goal game in her freshman year versus Cornell. Junior midfielder Lena Zentgraf (Charlottesville, Va.) had a career-high two assist game in the Ohio victory. The assists were the first two of her career.


Notre Dame improved its record to 6-0 all-time versus Ohio University with the 16-10 win on Feb. 27. The Irish have now won three times at home versus the Bobcats and three times in Athens, Ohio. Ohio University just happens to be Irish head coach Tracy Coyne’s alma mater. She is a 1983 graduate.


Tracy Coyne welcomes back two of her former players as members of her coaching staff for the 2005 season. Returning as an assistant coach is 2002 graduate Alissa Moser who replaced former assistant Jen Newitt last August. Moser was a two-time captain and four-time monogram winner during her playing days. A native of North Wales, Pa., Moser finished her career tied for sixth in points (85), is seventh in goals (67) and is first in draw controls (126). She will work with the Notre Dame offense in 2005. Also joining Coyne’s staff as a volunteer assistant is 2004 graduate Kristen Gaudreau. A two-time monogram winner, Gaudreau was a starter on defense in each of the last two seasons and helped lead the Irish to the second-best goals-against average (8.54) in the program’s history last season. She returned to Notre Dame to work on her Master’s Degree in accountancy.


Notre Dame is now 7-2 all-time in season openers after defeating Ohio University. The Irish are 7-2 in road openers and 5-3 in home openers in the first nine seasons of the women’s lacrosse program.


Only one Notre Dame player enters this week’s games in the midst of a scoring streak. Junior Crysti Foote has a four-game scoring streak, during which she has 12 goals and four assists for 16 points.


Junior attack standout Crysti Foote is Notre Dame’s top returning scorer. As a sophomore, she scored 26 goals and added nine assists for 35 points in 17 games. She was a second team all-BIG EAST selection and was a second team IWLCA Mid-Atlantic Region selection. As a freshman, she finished third on the team in scoring with 27 goals and 11 assists for 38 points. Following her rookie season, Foote became the first Notre Dame women’s lacrosse freshman to be named to the IWLCA first team all-Mid-Atlantic region team. After two seasons at Notre Dame, she already is 10th all-time in scoring with 53 goals and 20 assists for 73 points. She was selected as a preseason All-American by Inside Lacrosse Magazine and was selected as a preseason all-BIG EAST selection in voting by the coaches.


Two Notre Dame players were selected by BIG EAST coaches as preseason all-BIG EAST team members. Making the list are senior Jess Mikula (Chester, Md.) and junior Crysti Foote (Suffern, N.Y.). Both players were second team all-BIG EAST selections in 2004. Mikula recorded 33 ground balls and had 22 caused turnovers from here defensive position last season. Foote is Notre Dame’s top returning scorer after getting 26 goals with nine assists for 35 points last season. She was also named a preseason All-American by Inside Lacrosse Magazine.


Five members of the Notre Dame lacrosse team have family ties to the program and one other has ties to the men’s lacrosse program. Senior goalkeeper Carol Dixon (Pennsauken, N.J.) played two seasons (2002 and 2003) with her sister, Angela, who graduated in May of 2003. Notre Dame’s third and fourth sister acts arrived on campus in the fall when twins Heather and Lindsey Ferguson (Newtown Square, Pa.) joined the Irish along with fellow freshman Julie Foote (Suffern, N.Y.) who is the sister of junior attack standout Crysti Foote (Suffern, N.Y.). The Dixon’s, Ferguson’s and Foote’s give Notre Dame four sets of sisters to play on the women’s lacrosse team, joining Amy and Mara Grace who played in the first year of the program. Sophomore midfield/attack player, Megan O’Shaughnessy (Englewood, Colo.) is the cousin of Irish scoring great Lael O’Shaughnessy, a 2001 graduate. Sophomore defender Lena Zentgraf (Charlottesville, Va.) is the niece of men’s lacrosse coach Kevin Corrigan and associate athletic director Boo Corrigan, as well as, the granddaughter of former Notre Dame athletic director Gene Corrigan.


With the dawning of a new season, several Notre Dame players made their first career starts in the opener versus Ohio University. Freshman Caitlin McKinney made her first start at midfield. Joining her in the midfield in their first starts were Lena Zentgraf (Jr., Charlottesville, Va.) and Kaki Orr (So., Darien, Conn.). Making her first career start on defense was sophomore Kristin Hopson (Rosemont, Pa.).


Senior defender Jess Mikula looks to be the top replacement on defense to graduated All-American Andrea Kinnik. Mikula was a second team All-BIG EAST selection last season as she had 33 ground balls (second among defensive) players and recorded 22 caused turnovers (tied for second on the team). Mikula was a preseason all-BIG EAST selection this season and is one of the key performers on Notre Dame’s veteran defensive squad.


Senior attacker Jackie Bowers (Springfield, Pa.) will look to take up some of the scoring slack left by the departure of four graduated seniors on offense. As a first-year starter in 2004, Bowers finished sixth on the team in scoring with career highs in goals (14), assists (11) and points (25). She will team with Crysti Foote to give the Irish a strong 1-2 punch at attack. She opened the season with a goal and two assists in the 16-10 win over Ohio University.


Senior goalkeeper Carol Dixon took over in goal for the Irish in 2004 after serving as the team’s back up in her first two seasons. In 2004, Dixon played all but 3:28 minutes on the year and turned in a 12-5 record with an 8.57 goals-against average and a .505 save percentage. She ranked 14th in the nation in goals-against average and that average was the second-lowest mark in the eight-year history of the program.


Head coach Tracy Coyne likes to schedule strong competition. Last season, 10 of Notre Dame’s games came versus team’s ranked in the IWLCA top 20. In those 10 games, the Notre Dame was 6-4. The Irish opened the year with four consecutive wins versus ranked teams, beating No. 15 Stanford, No. 19 Cornell, No. 2 Duke and No. 6 James Madison. The wins over Duke and James Madison were the highest-ranked teams that the Irish have ever beaten. Following the four straight wins, the Irish lost three straight to No. 5 Georgetown, No. 11 Northwestern and No. 9 Johns Hopkins by a total of seven goals. They then closed the regular season with wins over No. 14 Syracuse and No. 11 Vanderbilt. Notre Dame’s season came to an end in the NCAA tournament when the Irish fell to No. 8 Northwestern, 10-8. The previous best year for the Irish versus ranked teams was the 2002 season when the Irish were 4-5. All-time, the Irish are 15-32 versus top 20 teams. This season, the Irish will face seven teams ranked in the preseason top 20. The list includes: #3 Northwestern, #4 Duke, #6 Johns Hopkins, #12 Syracuse, #13 James Madison and #16 Vanderbilt.


Notre Dame’s five losses in 2004 came by a grand total of 10 goals. The Irish suffered one-goal losses to Johns Hopkins (13-12) and Rutgers (7-6) and a pair of two-goal losses to Georgetown (9-7) and Northwestern (10-8 in NCAA tournament). The worst Notre Dame loss of the season was a four-goal loss versus Northwestern in the regular season (9-5).


Notre Dame had three players receive All-American honors in 2004, the most ever in the program’s eight-year history. Leading the way was senior Meredith Simon who became the school’s first-ever first team IWLCA All-American. She also was a second team Inside Lacrosse and All-American. Defensive standout Andrea Kinnik took IWLCA second team honors and was a third team selection by both Inside Lacrosse magazine and Midfielder Abby Owen also took All-American honors as a third team selection by both IWLCA and Inside Lacrosse magazine.


Head Coach Tracy Coyne was named the BIG EAST coach of the year following the 2004 season. For Coyne, this was her first BIG EAST coach of the year honor. She is no stranger to coach of the year honors as in 1990 she was selected as the NCAA Division III coach of the year at Roanoke and was the Old Dominion Athletic Conference (ODAC) coach of the year in 1990 and 1995. Prior to her stint at Roanoke (1990-96), Coyne spent two years at Denison College (1988-89) where she was the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) coach of the year in 1988.


Notre Dame has now made two appearances in the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Tournament. In 2004, the Irish lost in the first round at Northwestern by a 10-8 score. In 2002, the Irish advanced for the first time, defeating Ohio State at Moose Krause Stadium, 11-7, before losing to top-ranked Princeton, 11-5, in the quarterfinals.


Notre Dame set school records in 2004 with 206 goals and 297 points. The graduating class of Meredith Simon (46g, 28a), Abby Owen (34g, 11a), Lauren Fischer (28g, 13a), Kassen Delano (20g, 7a), Kristen Gaudreau (7g, 1a), Andrea Kinnik (4g, 2a) and Mia Novic (1g, 2a) accounted for 140 goals, 64 assists and 204 points. That means the 2005 Irish will have to replace 67.9% of their goals, 70.3% of their assists and 68.7% of their total points from last year.