April 14, 2013

No. 6 Notre Dame Holds Off Final Georgetown Run

by Sam Gans | LaxMagazine.com

Caitlin Gargan scored four goals and carried the Irish offense in place of Jaimie Morrison, who sat out with "bumps and bruises," Notre Dame coach Christine Halfpenny said.
© TD Paulius

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — Sunday's contest between No. 6 Notre Dame and No. 8 Georgetown turned into a game of runs, and the Irish (11-1, 5-1 Big East) were able to hold on for a 13-12 victory over the visiting Hoyas (9-3, 3-1) in Big East women's lacrosse action at Arlotta Stadium.

Two different extended runs in the second half by Notre Dame appeared to separate the Irish from the Hoyas. However, Georgetown responded both times to stay in the game.

With the score tied at four at halftime, Notre Dame scored four unanswered goals in the first five minutes of the second half to take an 8-4 lead. The Hoyas, however, tied the game again at eight. After Notre Dame went on another big run to go up 13-9, Georgetown scored three goals in the final minute and won the last draw control with 13 seconds remaining. But a quick turnover ended any hope of overtime.

Irish coach Christine Halfpenny said the back-and-forth nature of the game was a result of two top programs competing.

"I think we had two top-10 teams coming at each other and we both found our rhythm," Halfpenny said. "We were both hard to stop when we had our crisp passing and we were talking. I think we were able to do what we wanted to do. We had to find ways to get out of those little lulls, because our defense is strong enough to come up with a couple more of those stops."

The contest was dominated statistically by Georgetown, except on the scoreboard. The Hoyas outshot the Irish (37-22), won more draw controls (17-10), committed less fouls (39-12), and turned the ball over fewer times (21-15). Those stats made the outcome even more difficult to swallow for Hoyas coach Ricky Fried.

"I think it's disappointing because we had opportunities. ... We have things to work on," Fried said. "A lot of things we did wrong are things that we work on every day. And clearly we need to figure out a different way to work on those things, so that our players have a sense of urgency and play at a more efficient level."

Irish senior goalie Ellie Hilling made a season-high 14 saves for Notre Dame, as Georgetown converted just three of 10 free-position shots.

"[Hilling] was absolutely critical to our success today," Halfpenny said. "I think those eight stops in the first half really fueled our entire team and basically our offense looked right at Ellie Hilling and said, 'Hey, look, you're making those stops, we're going to go ahead and do our job and take better care of the ball in the second half.' And after we got warmed up, we did just that and were able to find our run."

The Irish also relied heavily on sophomore middle Caitlin Gargan, who scored four goals and helped carry the Irish offense in the absence of senior attack Jaimie Morrison. Morrison, who scored six points on Friday in a loss to Loyola, was held out Sunday due to what Halfpenny called "bumps and bruises."

Georgetown utilized three goals from senior middle Sophia Thomas, but struggled to put the ball past Hilling despite a high number of shots.

"I think our shooting really affected us," Fried said. "I think if we would have hit on some of those shots, that would have made a big difference for us. And I think that was what it really came down to was shooting for us at the end of the day."

Ultimately, Fried was proud of his team's near-comeback at the end of the contest when things looked bleak, but disappointed the effort in the final minute couldn't be duplicated throughout the game.

"I think our team fights all the time," Fried said. "I think we're super athletic. I think we're pretty competitive. The disappointing thing is we needed that sense of urgency for 60 minutes so we [needed] to sustain that and figure out a way to do that. I thought there were a lot of good points for us during the course of the game. But the low points were big momentum builders for the other team."

The victory was a nice response for the Irish following their only defeat of the season on Friday to Loyola, Halfpenny said.

"I think we were just very focused," she said. "I love that my team came out loose, relaxed and they went for it. I told them ... when we play our game, play together, good things will happen. Don't look at the scoreboard, just know where each other is at every point in the game and credit to all 31 of them, they did just that."


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