Feb. 9, 2017
By Megan Golden
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The No. 8 University of Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team will look to bounce back against Liberty at 7 p.m. ET on Friday at Loftus Sports Center.
Following a heartbreaking loss to rival No. 9 Northwestern on Sunday, the Irish (0-1) returned to the field to prepare for back-to-back games this weekend. Notre Dame will face Liberty (0-0) on Friday and will follow with a matinee versus Detroit Mercy (0-0) at 3 p.m. ET.
Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny said her team has continued to focus on draw controls and hand speed in practice. Playing against Northwestern, she said, her team proved it can play smart and possess the ball.
“We were fighters,” she said. “Obviously, two great teams going against each other, the momentum shift is huge; that’s what makes lacrosse such a great game. Both teams went on runs, but I felt like our team really fought hard and showcased each other nicely.
“Continuing to develop and be a little bit better the next day is going to get us ready for the next game.”
WHAT: Liberty vs. Notre Dame
WHEN: February 11, 2017 at 7 p.m. ET
WHERE: Loftus Sports Center (Notre Dame, Indiana)
COVERAGE: ACC Network Extra/WatchESPN
No Rest for the Weary
This weekend will be the sixth time in Irish history that the team will play back-to-back games. Notre Dame has played on two straight days just once since 2003.
The last time Notre Dame played back-to-back games during the regular season was last March, when the team faced Virginia Tech and Liberty on consecutive days. The Irish traveled to Blacksburg, Virginia, to square off against the Hokies and returned home to host Liberty the following day. Notre Dame was victorious in both matchups, defeating Virginia Tech 19-10 and defeating Liberty 25-2.
The Fighting Irish recorded the win in the lone contest between Notre Dame and Liberty on March 9, 2016. Notre Dame defeated the Flames, 25-2, behind a combined 12 goals from senior Cortney Fortunato (5), junior Nikki Ortega (4) and senior Grace Muller (3).
Notre Dame owns a modest 2-0 record against Detroit after playing the Titans in 2013 and in 2015. Most recently, on February 15, 2015, the Irish dominated the Titans in a 17-5 win, which featured six points from Fortunato and four goals from Muller. Notre Dame outscored Detroit, 9-1, in the second half to seal the victory.
“The way we prepare and the leadership we have gives us confidence. The intangible desire to win gives us confidence,” Halfpenny said. “It’s hard to look at the past season and balance anything on that. Quite honestly, we have zero film on these guys. We can look at what they did last year, but both have lost quite a bit to graduation, as have we. We’re not really focused on the past to get us belief or to get us motivated. We’re focused on the current year’s preparation and what we’re doing right now.
“Both teams have something to prove. We always get everybody’s best game, so we have to be prepared for that.”
Last Time it Happened…
Irish freshman Savannah Buchanan’s four goals against Northwestern were the most by a freshman in their college debut since Cortney Fortunato netted four goals versus Cincinnati on February 12, 2014.
Buchanan joins Fortunato (three times) and Rachel Sexton as the only Irish players to score four goals in a season opener since 2012.
Home Sweet Home
The Irish are 15-6 in their last 21 home contests, dating back to the start of the 2015 season. Notre Dame, which splits its time between Loftus Sports Center and Arlotta Stadium, will look to remain unbeaten against Liberty and Detroit at home.
“It’s nice to be home,” Halfpenny said. “We’re comfortable here, not having to travel. It takes off some of that extra stress on the body. Our team likes playing at home. We play well at home. We’re happy to be here, especially in this back-to-back situation.”
Friday’s game will be streamed live on ACC Network Extra/WatchESPN. For a closer, behind-the-scenes look at the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse program, follow @NDWomensLax on Twitter.
Megan Golden, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since August of 2016. In her role, she coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse and cross country/track and field programs. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Golden is a 2014 graduate of Saint Mary’s College and former Irish women’s basketball manager. Prior to arriving at Notre Dame, she worked in public relations with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox.