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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
The Observer

Women’s lacrosse to open season in exhibition game against Michigan

Notre Dame opens its season this Sunday at home in an exhibition game against Michigan.

Last season saw the Irish have much success and reach the second round of the NCAA tournament, and there is great optimism surrounding the team heading into this year.

Head coach Christine Halfpenny said the main goal for the team is to uphold the strong standard for women’s lacrosse at Notre Dame.

“Since the University started the lacrosse program, our goals have been to compete with and against the best competition in the country and to bring championships home to Notre Dame,” Halfpenny stated.

Halfpenny is happy about the depth of her team heading into the year, but staying healthy will be of the utmost importance, she said.

“Being healthy is very important,” Halfpenny said. “Health is number one. We certainly are excited about what we have here in personnel but staying healthy will be critical to our success.”

Halfpenny believes one of the team’s main strengths is defense, which will be led by junior goalie Bridget Deehan.

“Although young in her career, [Deehan] holds an incredible save percentage, and we are really looking forward to seeing her step into the starting role for us this year,” Halfpenny said.

Last season the Irish had great success in gaining possession off the draw. Returning from last year’s team are names such as junior Andie Aldave and senior Kathleen Roe, who were vital to the success off the draw.

In addition to the veteran names, Halfpenny is excited to add some new players.

“We get to add in some new faces to that mix to give us more depth at the draw,” Halfpenny said. “[Freshman] Kasey Choma, [freshman] Madison Ahern and others will be able to also be a part of that three-on-three battle.” 

Winning possessions off the draw is likely going to be vital to the team’s success.

“Our game is based on the possession and allowing us opportunities on offense, so that is going to be really critical,” Halfpenny said.

Halfpenny also hopes the offense will develop smoothly heading into a new season.

“I think we have a lot of firepower this year, and we are looking to grow the creativity we saw last season with some new faces,” Halfpenny said.

The exhibition game against Michigan this Sunday figures to be a good warmup for the Irish. The Irish will only have seven practices ahead of the game, but they will have two more weeks of practice after Sunday’s game to prepare for their first regular season game against Marquette.

Despite the limited amount of practice time, Halfpenny hopes the team can perform well on Sunday.

“Our goal is to be the best team we can be on Sunday and execute what we have been working on for seven days,” Halfpenny said. “Communication is something that we are focused on all over the field and utilizing our language efficiently with conviction is going to be something we are learning.”

The team will use the exhibition game to perfect certain aspects of the team, and see how their offense and defense fares against a strong Michigan side.

“We will work on combinations within our motion offense and some of our set pieces,” Halpenny said. “We are excited to see that against a great Michigan team and having the first opportunity to get a look at our defense.”

The Irish played Michigan in the fall in what was a very exciting, evenly matched game. Sunday’s exhibition figures to be more of the same.

“It was a really great competition,” Halfpenny said. “We felt very confident in our team. It was a battle. It was an awesome battle, and we came away feeling really good about it. They’ve grown and we have grown.”

Halfpenny is well aware of the talent this Michigan team has, and is excited her team has the opportunity to face a strong opponent early on in an exhibition setting.

“They have great lacrosse players, so it’s nice knowing that we are going to come in facing our region’s best,” Halfpenny said. “I think that it is important that we have this opportunity where we can really approach this exhibition in a business manner where we want to put our best foot forward.”

One of Halfpenny’s goals for her team is to start fast.

“We are really focused on starting fast,” Halfpenny said. “That is something that we know we need to take advantage of. That is something we have been working on daily.”

Sunday’s game will tell Halfpenny much about her team and allow time to regroup before the season opener against Marquette.

“We have a lot of respect for Michigan,” Halfpenny said. “They have really grown quickly through the new leadership of their head coach, and that’s going to be very beneficial for us to see what we look like and have two weeks to go back and get better one step at a time.”

The exhibition game will begin at noon this Sunday in Loftus Sports Center.