Dec. 9, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Seven home games and a trip to defending National Champion Northwestern highlight a 16-game schedule for Notre Dame women’s lacrosse, first year head coach Christine Halfpenny announced on Friday.
Six foes, including three BIG EAST opponents, that are ranked in the Inside Lacrosse Face-Off Yearbook preseason poll dot the Irish schedule, including reigning National Champion and preseason No. 1 Northwestern, who Notre Dame travels to on April 25. Other preseason ranked opponents include defending BIG EAST Champion Loyola (Md.) (No. 11), Georgetown (No. 12), Syracuse (No. 14), Ohio State (No. 16) and Stanford (No. 19). The Wildcats, Greyhounds and Cardinal all made the 16-team NCAA Tournament last season.
“We are once again playing a tough schedule, but that has become a commonplace for Notre Dame women’s lacrosse since the inception of the program,” said Halfpenny. “Top to bottom we feel like we put together a quality schedule that lends us the ability to gain some experience before we get into the always tough BIG EAST competition, which is always a dogfight. I think the league is one of the best top to bottom league’s in the country, and there are no gimmies when you step out on to the field.”
Notre Dame’s lone exhibition contest comes on Feb. 11, when it travels to No. 20 Johns Hopkins for a game against the Blue Jays.
The Irish open the home and regular season on Feb. 19 when they host No. 19 Stanford. The Cardinal edged Notre Dame, 13-12, last year in Palo Alto.
“We are very excited about opening the season at home against Stanford,” said Halfpenny. “It will be a quality early season matchup against a team that made the NCAA Tournament last year. I think it will be a great measuring stick early in the season and it also gives us a handle on where we would like to go.”
After hosting Duquesne on Feb. 25, the Irish hit the road for the first time during the regular season when they travel to No. 16 Ohio State on March 4, and then to Boston University on March 10.
From there the Irish road trip to Florida for Spring Break, where they will do battle with a pair of Ivy League schools, Yale and Cornell. Notre Dame meets the Bulldogs on March 13 in Delray Beach for the annual SpringFling Tournament, before facing off with the Big Red at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla., on March 17. The game will be the highlighted Division I game of the tournament and will be under the lights.
The matchup with Yale will be of particular interest to Irish lacrosse fans as current Bulldogs assistant coach and 2011-12 U.S. Women’s National Team member Jillian Byers is a former Notre Dame All-American, graduating in 2009.
“The Florida trip is going to be an incredible experience for our team,” said Halfpenny. Not only will we get to play at two separate venues, but it will also be a great chance to build some team chemistry. Trips like these where you are together for seven straight days really build team camaraderie.”
Following the Florida trip, the Irish return home to open up conference play against Louisville on March 24. Last year Notre Dame won a close one, 16-15, on the road.
A pair of BIG EAST road trips follow with visits to Rutgers (March 30) and No. 11 Loyola (April 1). The Irish defeated Rutgers, 11-6, last year, but fell to the Greyhounds twice, including in the BIG EAST Championship game, 15-12.
Notre Dame returns home on April 5, to compete against No. 14 Syracuse and then plays host to Villanova on April 7.
After a quick trip to Storrs, Conn., for a date with Connecticut on April 14, the Irish return back to the friendly confines of Arlotta Stadium for a non-conference tilt against Vanderbilt.
The regular season closes with a home date against Georgetown on April 21, the matchup at Northwestern on April 25 and Senior Day on April 28 against the Bearcats of Cincinnati.
The 2012 version of the BIG EAST Tournament will take place from May 3-5 in Syracuse, N.Y.
The NCAA Tournament begins shortly after, with Stony Brook University playing host to the Final Four May 25th and 27th. The Irish are looking to return to the field of 16 for the seventh time in the program’s history.
As the spring season fast approaches, Halfpenny also announced the captains for the 2012 campaign. Cited by their teammates and chosen by the coaching staff to help lead the Irish this year are seniors Jordy Shoemaker, Megan Sullivan and Maggie Tamasitis.
“We are very fortunate to have three strong student-athletes that are going to be assuming the captain’s role this year,” said Halfpenny. “The team felt very strongly about these three players helping to lead us in the direction we are trying to go this year. They are outstanding examples of how to work in the classroom as well as on the field. They are also very involved in the community. They do things the right way and put more in than is asked.
“They have ultimate trust and support from their team as well as the coaches and they are an awesome liaison together to work for their team but also for the coaches at the same time.”
Notre Dame returns 16 Monogram winners, including preseason All-American Tamasitis, from a squad that went 10-9 and advanced to the BIG EAST Championship game a season ago.
For Notre Dame women’s lacrosse ticket information, call the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office at (574) 631-7356, visit the tickets page at the official Fighting Irish athletics web site, UND.com (UND.com/tickets) or stop by the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office windows inside the Rosenthal Atrium at Purcell Pavilion (entrance via Gate 9).