1997 in Review
Irish Find Success
Less than 12 months after being added as Notre Dames 25th varsity sport, the Irish womens lacrosse team took to the field for the first time on March 11, 1997, in Ashland, Va., against Fairfield. Notre Dame proved victorious in the contest by an 18-11 score.
Under head coach Tracy Coyne, who had spent seven previous seasons at Division III Roanoke and had led that school to five NCAA tournament berths, including two appearances in the semifinals, the Irish finished with a 5-4 record in their first season of varsity competition.
The 97 campaign proved to be a learning experience for both coaches and players. With a roster of 24 players, many of whom had been members of the schools club team which was formed two years prior to its earning varsity status, the Irish faced a schedule that included the likes of Vanderbilt, Stanford, Davidson and Ohio State.
Notre Dame won five of it first six games as the Irish rolled to victories over Fairfield, Gannon, Denver Stanford and Duquesne.
After winning its first two games, Coynes squad suffered its first loss at Vanderbilt, 20-13, in Nashville, Tenn. Notre Dame fell behind 7-0, but was able to close the gap to four at halftime, 12-8, and then to 13-10 with 23:48 left to play in the game. The inexperience of Coynes team showed in the latter part of the game as the Commodores outscored the Irish 7-3 in the final 24 minutes of the game.
Notre Dame played its first-ever home game at Moose Krause Stadium on March 21, 1997, against Denver and earned a 15-4 victory. In the game senior Cara Buchanan scored four goals and dished off three assists, while sophomore Kerry Callahan and senior Tara Pierce each added three goals.
Three days later against Stanford the Irish posted a resounding 19-13 victory. The 19 goals versus the Cardinal would mark the most by Notre Dame all season. Callahan had a spectacular day as she scored six times and dished off three assists. Her six goals and nine points scored would be the most by an Irish player in a game during the season.
Notre Dame upped its record to 5-1 with a 15-4 victory over Duquesne in Pittsburgh, Pa.. That would mark the last win for the Irish who would go on to lose their remaining three regular season games.
Despite losing those final three contests, Irish head coach Tracy Coyne was enthusiastic about the accomplishments of her team in its first season and pointed toward the future with great optimism.
Buchanan led the Irish in scoring in 97 with a team-high 24 goals and eight assists. In addition to Buchanan, three other players scored 20-plus points. Callahan finished as the teams second-leading scorer as she netted 18 goals and a team-best 11 assists for 29 points. Sophomore Stephanie Fox had 18 goals and eight assists, while junior Eileen Regan scored 20 goals and dished off two assists.
Notre Dames high-scoring offense netted 122 goals during the season and its 13.56 goals per game average ranked sixth nationally in that category.
Regan, who served as a tri-captain, along with seniors Mara Grace and Pierce, was presented with the Notre Dame National Monogram MVP award which was voted on by her teammates. Callahan was the recipient of the Notre Dame Club of St. Joseph Valley Student-Athlete Award, while Grace was named to the GTE/CoSIDA District V Academic All-America team in the womens spring at-large program.