Rachel Sexton picked up a hat trick to lead ND's offense at Maryland.

No. 7/6 Women's Lax Falls at No. 2 Maryland, 16-10

March 15, 2014

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Rachel Sexton netted a hat trick for the second straight game but it wouldn’t be enough for the No. 7/6 Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team as the Fighting Irish (6-3, 1-3 ACC) fell, 16-10, to No. 2 Maryland (9-0, 3-0) on Saturday afternoon in College Park.

Eight different Notre Dame players would score a goal in the contest. Senior Margaret Smith ended up having another robust stat line in the defensive midfield for Notre Dame, gaining five ground balls, causing three turnovers and controlling two draws. Stephanie Peragallo also caused a trio of turnovers. The Irish won the ground ball battle 25-20 but extra possessions would hurt the team on Saturday as Maryland controlled 22 draws to Notre Dame’s five.

“We’re ready to learn from this game,” Notre Dame head coach Christine Halfpenny said. “It was a couple of things here and there – a couple of tightened up slides, a couple of tightened up offensive sets. The elephant in the room is draw controls. We have to credit Maryland for being able to win 22 out of 27 draws. Even with the 22-5 landslide in draw controls, we are pleased with the 10 caused turnovers that helped us score in double figures.

Margaret Smith’s All-America caliber play is absolutely keeping us in games. While it takes a total team effort, the effort and leadership she’s bringing as the only starting senior is tremendous. Against one of the most athletic teams in the country and the scrappiest, she had five ground balls, three caused turnovers and two draw controls. That gives us momentum. It allows our younger kids to follow suit.”

It was Notre Dame who picked up the first score of the day as Smith controlled the opening draw for the Irish and Sexton would soon score unassisted on a run to the net just 39 seconds into the game. The next three goals would go the way of the Terrapins, however, two of them coming on free positions, as the Terps went up 3-1 by the 25:58 mark.

Notre Dame responded with a pair of goals to tie the game back up at 3-3. Capitalizing on a fast break after an Allie Murray save, Alex Dalton ran through the midfield and gave the ball to Casey Pearsall who passed it onto Cortney Fortunato for a sidewinding shot and a goal. Heidi Annaheimwould knot the score at 11:44 with an unassisted strike.

Maryland took charge after that Annaheim goal, scoring six of the seven remaining goals before halftime, a run interrupted by Sexton’s second goal, coming off of the rebound of a Brie Custisshot at 3:12, that made it a 6-4 game at the time. The teams would eventually head to halftime with Maryland on top 9-4.

Kiera McMullan scored her first goal of the day 3:28 into the second half on a free position attempt, a method that Dalton would utilize to score Notre Dame’s second goal of the half at the 16:08 mark which cut the Terp lead to 12-6. Down 14-6, Lindsay Powellscored her first goal of the year with 10:17 left, picking a top corner. Sexton scored the game’s next goal, completing her hat trick at 7:12, with Notre Dame playing a man-down, when she went between the goalie’s legs on a free position shot to make it 14-8.

Notre Dame never stopped pressing and got two goals in the game’s final 1:05. Stephanie Toy scored first when she fired a shot into the Terrapin cage and then Casey Pearsall scored as time expired in the contest to account for the 16-10 final with Katherine Eilers picking up an assist. Murray would make eight saves in the Notre Dame net while Liz O’Sullivanmade one in just over 10 minutes of work.

“I’m proud of how the team played, scoring at the very end in a strong transition,” Halfpenny said. “It’s something to build on.”

The Fighting Irish will be back in action on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. when they play host to Marquette.