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Sunday, May 26, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame women's lacrosse delivers Clemson first defeat in program history

Notre Dame women’s lacrosse handed Clemson their first loss in program history Saturday afternoon at the Loftus Sports Center. The No. 14 Irish — thanks to the 12-9 win in their ACC opener — improved to 3-1 on the season.

Junior midfielder Kasey Choma and senior attacker Jackie Wolak led the way for the Irish with a hat trick each. Minorly thwarted by the Tiger’s 16 total saves, Notre Dame assuaged a white-knuckle victory taking advantage of Clemson’s 16 total turnovers.

Notre Dame women's lacrosse handed Clemson their first-ever loss in program history on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023 in the Loftus Sports Center.
Notre Dame women's lacrosse handed Clemson their first-ever loss in program history on Saturday, Feb. 25, 2023 in the Loftus Sports Center.

Tiger graduate student attacker Gianna New, who would complete the afternoon with a hat trick of her own, drew first blood about 200 seconds into the competition. Over the next seven minutes of play, the Irish recorded three unanswered goals, and the scoreboard read 3-1 in favor of the home team 10 minutes in.

Just under two and half minutes left in the opening quarter, senior midfielder Emma Tilson snuck one by Irish goalkeeper junior Lilly Callahan, to bring the Tigers a score away from a tie game. Then less than 30 seconds later, New tallied her second goal of the day to knot the endeavor at three apiece.

During period two, five minutes passed before a Choma point propped the Irish back up 4-3. The road team went on to punch in three unreturned Tiger scores, and the Irish would trot off the field down 6-4 at halftime.

Five minutes into the third quarter, the Irish leveled out the contest once again when Wolak and Choma found the net via an unassisted and a free position shot, respectively. The Tigers would respond by registering their own pair of goals before Wolak slipped another one by Clemson goalkeeper sophomore Emily Lamparter — manufacturing an 8-7 affair with a quarter to play.

A few minutes into the fourth period, junior midfielder Ella Little would notch the final Tiger point of the afternoon. In the last 10 minutes and 29 seconds of the game, the Irish scored five unanswered to emerge victorious 12-9.

Though the Irish had to play from behind for much of the match, head coach Christine Halfpenny said the team never really felt down at all.

“The scoreboard says one thing, and then the clock says another,” Halfpenny said. “It’s a long game. It’s 15-minute quarters, and we made great adjustments.”

This year being the inaugural season of Clemson women’s lacrosse program, Halfpenny credited how the Tigers came out in their fifth-ever game.

“[Clemson] had a great game plan, and they played really well,” Halfpenny said. “They’re graduate students. Their average age is probably 22-point-something, and I thought they… organized and took advantage of some of our miscues… and shot really well.”

Halfpenny was happy that the Irish remained out of foul trouble and won the turnover battle, she continued.

“This is our lowest turnover game, and we knew that was going to be important,” Halfpenny said. “We thought that was an edge that we would get. Clemson has been turning the ball over at like a 15-turnover clip, and they did again. We were able to turn them over, and they turned us over. But we only had four unforced errors, and I think that is a game changer for us.”

Recognizing the vital role of the Irish’s depth in the win, Halfpenny added that Saturday's performance did give reason for excitement.

“Top to bottom it was awesome to see how we were able to come in as a team, and start to gel as a team when we needed to the most,” Halfpenny said.

On Saturday, Notre Dame travels to Charlotte, North Carolina to take on the No. 10 Duke University Blue Devils at 1:30 p.m. EST.