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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
The Observer

Irish prepared to face Yale in Florida

The Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team (3-5, 1-2 ACC) will return to action this Sunday when they face Yale (4-1, 1-0 Ivy League) in Naples, Florida.

Head coach Christine Halfpenny was pleased with how her team played in last week’s 20-5 win against Jacksonville.

“I’m really excited about the growth I have seen so far,” Halfpenny said. “A lot of facets of our games are working together and we talked about being able to do that for four 15 minute periods. Keeping our foot on the gas pedal has been exactly what we were able to do. From the continuity between winning the draw and turning those possessions into scores, that was a huge piece of what we were able to do.”

Halfpenny has been impressed with her team’s awareness on the fast break

“It’s important that we are all on the same page and that we are communicating to one another,” she said. “When we get into ourselves, it’s being organized and communicating to one another so that we can attack the cage collectively,” Halfpenny said. “I am really excited to build off of that against a really strong Yale team that is off to a hot start.”

The Irish have had some frustrating losses this year, with four of their five losses being by two goals or less.

Halfpenny believes that her team has learned from these losses and improved significantly because of the close losses.

“The cliche goes that wins are wins and losses are learns,” Halfpenny said. “They’re only learns if you actually improve from them, and we really feel as though our team has got our wins and our learns. Our learns have translated into outstanding focus and on field leadership in our team with a determination to make adjustments and really focus on the growths areas of our game.”

Halfpenny feels that her team has stressed these growth areas and learned a lot by playing difficult opponents.

“Whether it was tightening up how we were coming off picks and screens, or if it was tightening our spacing, or tightening up our transition game,” Halfpenny said. “Whatever that was, playing at a high level and strong schedule both in and out of conference we feel has put us in a position where we really are battle tested. We understand how to respond to a multitude of situations now.”

Halfpenny has been blown away with the approach her team has brought with them this season.

“The season is a journey, and it’s been a journey of growth for this year’s team. I’ve been so impressed with the way they’ve approached that and how they’ve had a mindset of growth and a mindset of pride in their game,” Halfpenny said.

Irish senior attacker Madison Ahern runs onto the field before Notre Dame’s 24-5 win over Central Michigan on Feb. 11, 2022.
Irish junior attacker Madison Ahern runs onto the field before Notre Dame's 24-5 win over Central Michigan on Feb. 11.

Despite a disappointing record to start the season, the Irish have competed in every game, which is very encouraging for the team going forward.

“It’s not lost on us that we have competed in every single game. We understand how close we were and that every play matters. So now we are absolutely seeing that. In our game on Sunday [against Jacksonville], we saw that really come out," Halfpenny said. "We had this realization that everything we’ve been doing has been for the next game, has been for improvement, has been for growth, has been for ourselves to showcase what we can do.”

The team will fly down to Naples on Friday evening and have Saturday to practice and get acclimated to the Florida conditions, which figure to be around 80 degrees.

Halfpenny stressed that the trip is first and foremost a business trip, but she is looking forward to her players having the chance to spend time with their families after the game on Sunday.

“The families are a big piece of what we do, supporting our players and having an incredible impact on our team,” Halfpenny said. “They’re our first line of support for everything working here.”

Halfpenny acknowledged that the Irish will have a challenging matchup against a methodical, well-coached Yale team.

“They’re very well-coached. They’re methodical in their game plan. In terms of what they have done really well, they have a very strong draw and drawer with a height advantage. We also know that they have had that success and that they work really well together in their sets,” Halfpenny said.

Yale has a lot of firepower on offense, which will be a stiff challenge for the Irish.

“Their strengths definitely sit on the draw on offense and looking to push the fast break. They have some very talented players. Their big three are Olivia Markert, Olivia Penoyer, and Fallon Vaughn. They all have a lot of touches, leading their team in shots, and they are very balanced,” Halfpenny said. “We will have to be focused and ready to be relentless in our one-on-one matchups and win our one-on-one matchups all over the field.

Sunday’s game will start at 12 p.m. EST.