March 1, 2003
THE GAME: Notre Dame opens its seventh season of women’s lacrosse with a visit to Ithaca, N.Y. for a meeting with ninth-ranked Cornell (IWLCA rankings). The Irish are coming off their best season ever as they turned in school records for wins (13), advanced to the NCAAs for the first time, advancing to the quarterfinals and finished with their highest ranking ever – seventh – in the final IWLCA poll. The Irish also finished second in the BIG EAST with a 5-1 mark, with the lone loss coming to Georgetown. Coach Tracy Coyne’s squad is 6-0 in season openers. The Irish have never opened the season versus a nationally ranked team. Notre Dame will play its first five games and seven of the first eight on the road this season. The Irish home opener is set for Tuesday, March 25 versus Ohio State. Following the season opener at Cornell, the Irish return to the East Coast to face another Ivy League foe when they face Brown on Sun., March 9 in Providence. Game time is 1:00 p.m.
IRISH VERSUS BIG RED: Notre Dame and Cornell met for the first time last season at Notre Dame with the Big Red taking a 10-9 win at the Loftus Sports Center. The Big Red came into the game ranked 10th and the Irish were 15th. Cornell jumped out to an 8-3 lead at halftime only to see the Irish rally and cut the lead to 9-8 with 9:55 left in the game. Jaimee Reynolds scored her thrid goal of the game at 7:26 to make it 10-8. Meredith Simon (Jr., Flemington, N.J.) scored her second goal of the game for the Irish with 15 seconds left to cut the lead to 10-9, but the Irish could not get the equalizer. Kassen Delano (Jr., Alexandria, Va.) and Danielle Shearer (Sr., Hampstead, Md.) also had two goals for the Irish. Jen White (Sr., Annapolis, Md.) played in goal for the Irish and made 10 saves in the loss.
THE COACHES: Notre Dame head coach Tracy Coyne is in her seventh season with the Irish and is the only coach the program has ever known. Coyne owns a 49-36 (.576) record at Notre Dame and is 163-62 (.724) in her 15-year coaching career. She led the Irish to their first-ever NCAA tournament bid in 2002 and advanced to the quarterfinals before losing to eventual champion, Princeton, 11-5. She is 0-1 in her career versus Cornell. The Pittsburgh, Pa., native led Denison (1988) and Roanoke (1990, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1996) to the NCAA Division III tournament during stops at those schools. A 1983 graduate of Ohio University, Coyne has coached on the international level leading the Canadian women’s lacrosse national team to the medal round at the 2001 World Cup in England.
Cornell head coach Jenny Graap is in her sixth season at Cornell and has a 56-23 (.709) record after leading the Big Red to last season’s women’s lacrosse Final Four. Now in her 10th season as a head coach, Graap has a 77-67 ((.535) career record. She was the IWLCA National Coach of the Year last season and Inside Lacrosse Magazine’s North Coach of the Year.
RECORD SETTING SEASON: The 2002 women’s lacrosse season will go down as the finest season in the program’s six-year history. Going into the NCAA quarterfinals at Princeton, the Irish have set program-bests for wins (13), for BIG EAST wins (5) and for the highest ranking (7th) that the program has ever achieved. The Irish have also set records for lowest goals against (7.49), save percentage (.545) and ground balls (516). Notre Dame also won its first game at home versus a ranked team when the Irish defeated 7th-ranked Syracuse, 12-7, on April 3. The Irish also won their first-ever NCAA tournament game when they defeated Ohio State on May 9 by an 11-7 score.
A LOOK AT THE IRISH: Notre Dame returns seven starters and 11 monogram winners from its 2002 team. The Irish must replace five four-year starters including their top three defenders in Tina Fedarcyk, Maureen Henwood and Kathryn Lam and midfielders Natalie Loftus and Alissa Moser. Among Notre Dame’s top returnees are senior midfielder Danielle Shearer, who is the team’s top returning scorer after a 39-goal, 20-assist campaign last season. Seniors Kelly McCardell (West Chester, Pa.) and Elizabeth Knight (Baltimore, Md.) are the leaders of the defense while Angela Dixon (Sr., Pennsauken, N.J.) and Lauren Fischer (Jr., Pittsburgh, Pa.) are the top returnees at attack. All-American candidate Jen White (Sr., Annapolis, Md.) played all 18 games last season and set school records for wins (13), goals-against average (7.49) and save percentage (.545).
2003 SCHEDULE: Notre Dame’s 2003 schedule features seven games versus teams ranked in the preseason IWLCA poll. They are: Duke (#2), Georgetown (#4), Vanderbilt (#8), Cornell (#9), Ohio State (#11), Yale (#13) and Syracuse (#14). For the first time in the program’s history, the Irish come into a season ranked in the top 10, as they were picked seventh in the IWLCA poll and fifth by Insiden Lacrosse Magazine.
VERSUS THE IVYS: The Irish were 1-2 versus teams from the Ivy League last season. Notre Dame lost a 10-9 game to Cornell, defeated Yale 11-8 and then lost to Princeton, 11-5, in the NCAA Quarterfinals at Princeton.
VERSUS THE BEST: The Irish were 4-5 last season in games versus ranked teams. All-time, the Irish have a 6-20 record versus teams in the national top 20. The 2001 season marked the first time the Irish beat a ranked team as they defeated #17 Delaware on March 31 in Nashville, Tenn. The Irish then won at #7 Yale on April 16, 2001 for their first win over a top 10 team. The highest ranked team the Irish have ever beaten was Yale (7th-ranked) in 2001 and last season at home when they downed 7th-ranked Syracuse (April 3, 12-7).
PRESEASON ALL-AMERICANS: Two members of the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse program have been selected to Inside Lacrosse Magazine’s preseason all-American teams. Midfielder Danielle Shearer was a first-team selection while goalkeeper Jen White was chosen to the second team. Shearer, along with graduated defender Kathryn Lam were the first two all-Americans in Notre Dame history last season as both were chosen to the second team. Shearer was the BIG EAST midfielder of the year as she led Notre Dame with 39 goals and 20 assists for 59 points. White was a first-team all-BIG EAST selection along with Shearer as she set school records for wins (13), goals-against average (7.49) and save percentage (.545) in her junior year.
THE CAPTAINS: The Irish will have three new players serving as captains this season. Seniors Elizabeth Knight (Baltimore, Md.), Kelly McCardell (West Chester, Pa.) and Danielle Shearer will serve as the team’s captains this season.
NEW ASSISTANTS: Irish head coach Tracy Coyne added two new assistants to her staff during the summer. Brooke Crawford, a 1999 graduate of North Carolina where she was a three-time all-American on defense. She served as an assistant last season at George Mason and prior to that was at the University of Connecticut for two seasons. Jen Newitt, a 2002 graduate of Dartmouth where she led the Big Green in scoring with 39 goals and 18 assists on the way to all-American honors. Crawford will work with the defense while Newitt handles the offense.
MORE NEW FACES: Notre Dame added 11 new faces to its roster with one of its biggest recruiting classes ever.
MAKING HER MARK: Senior midfielder Danielle Shearer goes into the 2003 season ranked second all-time in goals (95), third in assists (40) and third in points with 135. The school records in each category are held by 2001 graduate Lael O’Shaughnessy who had 122 goals and 68 assists for 190 career points. Shearer needs 28 goals, 28 assists and 56 points to become the all-time leader in each category.
SLAMMING THE DOOR: Notre Dame goalkeeper Jen White goes into her final season with the Irish as the all-time leader in games played (38) and goals-against average (8.37). She needs just 11 more saves to become the all-time save leader for the Irish. As a junior, White was 13-5 with a 7.49 goals against average and gave Notre Dame the seventh-best defense in the nation. A first-team all-BIG EAST selection, White led the Conference in goals-against average and save percentage. She set a BIG EAST record when she limited Rutgers to just two goals in Notre Dame’s 9-2 win on April 28. For the season, the Irish all-America candidate was named the BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Week three times (March 17, April 1, April 28).
SIMON SAYS: Meredith Simon (Jr., Flemington, N.J.) came on late in the season and proved to be a big-time player in the 2003 postseason. Simon had a career-high 28-goal, six-assist season to finish fourth on the team in scoring. In the NCAA tournament, she turned in a career-best five-point game (3g, 2a) in Notre Dame’s first-round win over Ohio State (11-7) and then followed up with two goals in the 11-5 loss at Princeton. She led the Irish with five goals and two assists in the postseason.
ALL IN THE FAMILY: Lacrosse runs in the Simon family as junior Meredith Simon is joined at Notre Dame by brother, Eric, who is a member of the Notre Dame men’s lacrosse program. The senior is one of three team captains in the 2003 season.
THE LONGEST GAME: Notre Dame’s heartbreaking 10-9 loss to 7th-ranked Duke (April 12) in three overtimes goes down as the longest game in the history of the women’s lacrosse program. The total time for the game was 71:45 as Duke got the winning goal with 15 seconds left in the third overtime period. In that game the Irish trailed 8-6 and got goals from Maureen Henwood and Meredith Simon with 1:40 left to send the game to overtime. Simon’s goal came with 19 seconds left in the game. The Irish have played three overtime games in their history and are 2-1 in those games.
BIG SHOES TO FILL: Coach Tracy Coyne and her coaching staff will be looking to replace two key midfielders lost to graduation. Natalie Loftus (first team all-BIG EAST) and Alissa Moser (second-team all-BIG EAST) combined for 56 goals and 19 assists last season. Loftus had a career-high 40 points on 27 goals and 13 assists and Moser had career-bests in goals (29), assists (6) and points (35). Notre Dame’s heart-break. The Irish will be looking for seniors Anne Riley (Marblehead, Mass.) and Eleanor Wielle (Garden City, N.Y.) and freshman Crysti Foote (Suffern, N.Y.) to fill those shoes.
TEAM USA: Notre Dame is represented on the United States Developmental Team by four players.Current Irish standout Danielle Shearer is the only active team member on the squad. She is joined by defender Kathryn Lam (’02) who is a two-year member of the team. Current Irish assistant coaches, Brooke Crawford and Jen Newitt, are also members of the national program.