Feb. 15, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Junior Caitlin Gargan matched her career highs with both four goals and six points, but it would not be enough as the No. 11 Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team (1-1, 0-1 ACC) dropped a 15-10 decision to No. 20/17 Boston College (1-0, 1-0 ACC) on Saturday at the Loftus Sports Center in the first ever ACC game for the Fighting Irish.
A fun first half saw a total of six ties and three lead changes as the teams went to intermission deadlocked at 7-7. Mikaela Rix scored the third of her six goals for BC just 10 seconds into the second half and the Eagles would not trail again. Gargan scored her fourth goal with 20:56 to play, making it an 11-10 game for BC, but the Eagles would score three times over a critical stretch between the 20 to 15 minute marks and then control possession for much of the duration of the contest, preventing the Irish from mounting a substantial attempt at a rally.
“Today just came down to possession, which was not a surprise at all,” Notre Dame head coach Christine Halfpenny said in summation. “Give credit to BC. They took advantage of all of the possessions and wanted it a little bit more on the draw control to get some of the important ones when the game was still tight.”
The Eagles led draw controls 16-11 in the contest but were 9-3 on draws in the second half after ND led 8-7 at halftime in what proved to be a crucial category. The Fighting Irish welcomed back first-team All-American Barbara Sullivan who had missed the opener with an injury and the junior controlled six draws herself, five of them coming in the first half alone. A dramatic 28-8 margin in second half fouls, plus a pair of yellow cards, did not help Notre Dame’s comeback attempt.
Rachel Sexton had another strong day for the Irish as the sophomore recorded her second straight hat trick while also collecting three ground balls. Cortney Fortunato, Kiera McMullan and Stephanie Toy also scored goals for the home team on Saturday.
A young team with several freshmen and new starters playing key roles, the Irish have plenty of positives to take from today’s defeat. The coaches are generally pleased with where the team stands at this early juncture of the season and know that facing a talented team like BC will show them and their student-athletes just where they need to get better over the next two months.
“We’re excited about the beginnings of what we see from this team,” Halfpenny said. “We know that we’re doing the right things. Now it’s just fixing some things and getting ready for the next opponent.”
Allie Murray started in net for the Irish and played the first 40:27, making five saves and allowing 12 goals. Liz O’Sullivan played the game’s final 19:33, yielding three goals with a pair of stops. Emily Mata went the distance for BC, stopping two Notre Dame shots and yielding 10 goals. The Irish held a 17-16 edge in ground balls on the day while the teams were knotted at 13 turnovers each. BC took 28 shots to Notre Dame’s 22. As some of those stats indicate, it was a close game, one decided by a single goal through 40 minutes that turned course in a hurry during a quick Eagle burst midway through the second half.
“It was the possessions after they went up three (that made the difference),” Halfpenny lamented. “They started to slow it down. We went to our high pressure. We got some great saves by Liz O’Sullivan, however, they were able to capitalize on turnovers in our transition. We had opportunities when they were slowing down the ball but, unfortunately, we didn’t capitalize on them.”
The Fighting Irish will be back on the field on Saturday against No. 13 Stony Brook. The game is currently scheduled for noon at Arlotta Stadium but could be shifted to a night game inside the Loftus Sports Center depending on weather and field conditions as the week progresses.