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No. 18 Irish Outlast Louisville 14-9

March 4, 2018

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By Matt Paras

LOUISVILLE, Kentucky – The Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team (5-2, 1-1) hit the road for the first time in conference play and looked to keep their momentum going after two wins at home this past week. The Irish used a strong first half of play to claim a 14-9 victory over Louisville (5-2, 0-1) for their third-straight win and first in conference play.

Coach Halfpenny’s Thoughts

On the strong first half:
“We did a great job of starting out strong and sticking together all the way to the halftime buzzer. Great to see us play with great focus, specifically converting 2nd chance opportunities off of hustle stats into points on the scoreboard.”

On the second half push from Louisville:
“I thought our team did a fantastic job by not getting distracted by the momentum shift that went Louisville’s way for about 10 minutes in the middle of the second half. A few boundary calls didn’t go our way giving L’ville possessions that turned into goals. That certainly made the game more interesting. We had chances to make plays on offense during that stretch, and that’s an area where we need to develop a stronger counter attack game.”

“Overall, I’m very pleased with our entire team effort! And the way we finished the game. The biggest difference on the stat sheet today could go to our outstanding goaltending. Sam had an awesome game putting us in a winning position and Bridget stepped in when we needed her to close. They are an awesome team back there. We’ll take this W back to ND and soon turn our sights to VT.”

How It Happened

Louisville opened the scoring Sunday afternoon, scoring two of the first three goals. The Irish defense stepped up following the opening five minutes and shut down Louisville’s offense.

The Irish responded with a 6-0 run that spanned most of the first half. Erin McBride started it off with her first goal of the season at the 14:58 mark. Savannah Buchanan scored next for the Irish to give them their first lead of the game. Katie Enrietto netted the next two goals which caused the Cardinals to use a timeout as Notre Dame held a 5-2 lead.

Coming out of the timeout, Howe and Enrietto scored goals 16 seconds apart to increase the Irish lead to 7-2 with 7:20 left in the half. Julia Wood ended the scoreless streak for the Cardinals after the Irish held them scoreless for 18:50 during the 6-0 run.

Diana Kelly scored the final goal of the half after she split through two defenders at the 26.0 mark to give the Irish an 8-3 lead at the break.

In the second half, Notre Dame extended its lead to 10-4 after scoring two of the first three goals. Nikki Ortega and Abi Cullinan both scored their first goals of the game.

Louisville had a strong push back after the first five minutes of the half. The Cardinals scored five straight goals to cut the deficit to 10-9 with over 16 minutes remaining in the half. The Irish made a change in the cage, sending in Bridget Deehan to stop Louisville’s momentum.

Following a seven-minute span where neither team scored, the Irish broke through as Howe scored her third goal of the game for her second career hat trick. Five minutes later, Nikki Ortega scored off an assist from Molly Cobb to give the Irish a 12-9 lead with under five minutes left.

Howe scored her fourth of the game and Buchanan added her second in the final two minutes to clinch the 14-9 win for the Irish. Sunday was the fifth time this season the Irish held opponents to 10 goals or fewer and are 5-0 in those games.

Stat Leaders

  • Maddie Howe led all scorers with a career-high four goals Sunday afternoon. It is her second-career hat trick after scoring three goals in the opener against Boston College.
  • Howe also tied Aldave, Buchanan, and Ortega with the most points in a game this season with six.
  • Katie Enrietto recorded her second career hat trick. She scored three goals in the road win over Stetson.
  • Nikki Ortega scored twice on Sunday, her fifth game this season with multiple goals.
  • Savannah Buchanan tallied her third multi-goal game of the season with two goals against Louisville.
  • Andie Aldave controlled the draw for the Irish once again. She had six on the afternoon and leads the team with 52 on the year.
  • Aldave also tied for the team lead in ground balls (3) and caused turnovers (2).
  • Samantha Giacolone made eight saves on 16 shots (50%). It was her sixth game this season with a save percentage of 50% or higher.
  • Bridget Deehan made three saves on four shots (75%) in relief. It was her fourth appearance this year and she has 14 saves on the season.

Up Next

Notre Dame will have a week off before heading out on the road again for a conference matchup. The Irish will face Virginia Tech next Sunday at 1 p.m. ET. The game will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra.


Matt Paras, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since January 2018. In his role, he coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse and cross country/track & field programs. A native of Warwick, Rhode Island, Paras is a graduate of the University of Louisville where he completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Sport Administration. Prior to arriving at Notre Dame, he worked at Vanderbilt University as the sports information contact for the women’s soccer and lacrosse programs.