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Monday, March 4, 2024
The Observer

Early offense lifts Irish over Wolverines 14-8

With the regular season winding down, Notre Dame put forth several strong performances over the long weekend.

The No. 20 Irish (7-6, 2-4 ACC) defeated Michigan (5-8, 1-2 Big Ten) in convincing fashion by a score of 14-8 on Tuesday at home.

The Irish win came just three days after the Irish put together a very strong performance against No. 5 North Carolina, coming within a goal of the Tarheels in a 13-12 loss.

On Tuesday, the Irish were able to continue the momentum, combining a torrent of first half scoring with effective defensive play in order to overcome a tenacious Michigan team. Notre Dame head coach Christine Halfpenny was happy with her team’s performance, noting that the Wolverines had provided a tough challenge.

“They just fight,” she said. “They fought really, really hard. I think they were patient, they did a really good job of working for their open looks ... I thought they were physical, I thought they were athletic. They came to play and they played hard and they never went away. That was a great opponent that we had in Michigan.”

Notre Dame’s offense was a juggernaut, with six different Irish players scoring. Sophomore attack Jessi Masinko led the team with four goals, while freshman midfielders Andie Aldave and Maddie Howe each scored three times. Howe also led the team with three assists.

The Irish pulled ahead to a quick start in the first half, arising largely from their ability to control possession.

“We did a fantastic job in the first half,” Halfpenny said. “I thought we were very organized and made good adjustments as well, on both sides of the ball. A big key to the game for us was the draw control battle, and in the first half we edged them by one. The ground ball was a big, big battle today, and we did a great job winning that. Our defense fueled our offense [by] getting the stops that they did get.”

Senior midfielder Molly Cobb opened the game with a goal in the opening minute. Howe made the score 2-0 with a goal less than two minutes later. After the Wolverines answered with two goals of their own, the Irish went on a 6-0 run. Aldave and Masinko scored twice, while freshman midfielder Kaci Messier and junior attacker Nikki Ortega netted one goal each.

Michigan scored three more goals to bring the score to 8-5, but the Irish quickly responded with three of their own to take a commanding lead into halftime. Masinko, Howe, and Ortega provided the Irish’s three goals during this period.

Both defenses stiffened in the second half, with neither team being able to score in the first eleven minutes. Notre Dame was able to successfully defend the lead they had built up earlier, holding Michigan to only seven shots in the game’s last thirty minutes. The Irish and the Wolverines scored only three goals apiece in the second half, with Howe, Masinko and Aldave each adding one more to Notre Dame’s total.

Halfpenny is pleased with the direction the Irish are going in, and Notre Dame will look to continue to improve over the last few games of the regular season.

“We’re excited because we keep getting better every time out,” she said. “It’s April, and we’re looking like a team that’s starting to gel and get into postseason form, which isn’t too far away.

The Irish take on Northwestern at Lakeside Field in Evanston, Illinois on Sunday. The game will begin at 1 p.m.