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Sunday, June 23, 2024
The Observer

Irish women’s lacrosse sweeps weekend road trip against Pitt, Robert Morris

Notre Dame women’s lacrosse enjoyed a successful road trip to Pittsburgh this weekend, picking up a pair of dominant wins in the Steel City. The No. 8 Irish outscored Pitt and Robert Morris by a combined 26 goals to extend their road winning streak to three. With the victories, they improve to 11-4 (5-3 ACC) ahead of their regular season finale.

Ahern stars as Irish roll past Panthers

After their previous ACC game ended in a one-goal defeat at the hands of Boston College, the Irish were eager to get back on track with a conference victory. Friday’s matchup with last-place Pitt (4-11, 0-8 ACC) provided the perfect opportunity to do just that.

In its most recent outing, Notre Dame jumped out to a 24-0 lead against Butler before coasting to a 26-3 win. For much of the first half against Pitt, the Irish seemed on track for a similar result as they scored the game’s first 11 goals.

Senior attacker Jackie Wolak kicked off the scoring for the Irish with a goal less than three minutes into the game. That was followed by back-to-back scores from senior attacker Madison Ahern, the second of which was assisted by senior midfielder Kasey Choma. The Panthers had no answer for Wolak, Ahern and Choma in the first half. By the time Pitt got on the scoreboard for the first time midway through the second quarter, all three seniors had recorded hat tricks in addition to combining for three assists.

Ahern responded to Pitt’s opening goal with her fourth of the night, but the Panthers would strike back with one more to send the Irish into the halftime break with a comfortable 12-2 advantage.

With a big lead in hand, Notre Dame struggled to maintain its offensive aggressiveness in the opening minutes of the third quarter. Pitt scored the first two goals of the half while holding the Irish scoreless for more than 11 minutes. But the closing stages of the third would see the Notre Dame attack heat up again.

After Choma scored her fourth goal of the game, assisted by Wolak, Ahern added two more in rapid succession. Those scores pushed her tally to a career-high-tying six goals, marking the seventh sock trick of her Irish career.

Leading 15-4 entering the final quarter, the Irish continued to put pressure on the Panther defense. Goals from junior midfielder Mary Kelly Doherty and senior attacker Jane McAvoy made it five straight for Notre Dame and pushed their advantage to 13. The Irish would ultimately cede a pair of goals to Pitt in the final minutes, closing out their fifth ACC victory of the season by a 17-6 score.

Choma, Wolak reach milestone in win against Colonials

Just two days later, Notre Dame was back in action. They didn’t have to travel far, making the 20-mile trip to face Robert Morris (6-8, 4-1 MAC) on Sunday in their third consecutive road game. Similar to their previous two outings, the Irish had no trouble with the Colonials, opening up a sizable first-half lead before cruising to a 21-6 win.

The Irish offense picked up right where it left off against Pitt, scoring four goals in the first four minutes to quickly take control of the contest. It was a balanced scoring attack, as four different players combined to do the damage. Junior midfielder Kristen Shanahan scored the opener, and ensuing shots from graduate student midfielder Hannah Dorney, McAvoy and Choma found the back of the net soon after. Ahern collected a pair of assists to help Notre Dame take a 4-0 advantage.

The scoring barrage continued over the remainder of the quarter, but for both sides. Choma scored her second in between two Robert Morris goals that trimmed the Irish lead to three. But consecutive goals from Wolak, Choma and Ahern made the score 8-2. Choma also earned another hat trick, this time in the first quarter alone.

Choma’s goal came on an assist from Wolak, and the score was a significant one for both players. The seniors each recorded their 200th career point on the play, as Wolak secured her 89th assist (with 111 goals) to set up Choma’s 174th goal (with 26 assists).

Robert Morris finished the first quarter with two consecutive goals. But the Colonials were shut out by the stingy Irish defense for the entire second period. Meanwhile, Notre Dame stretched its lead to 9-4 with Choma’s fourth goal. Doherty then scored three straight goals in the last four minutes of the quarter to give the Irish a 12-4 halftime advantage.

Boosted by a stretch of five consecutive goals, Notre Dame outscored the Colonials 9-2 in the second half. Doherty set a new career-high with her fourth goal of the game. Ahern and Shanahan both secured hat tricks with a pair of second-half scores. They also finished tied for the game-high with five points each. Junior goalie Lilly Callahan had seven saves while holding Notre Dame’s opponent to six goals or fewer for the third straight game. Callahan had previously recorded her 100th save of the season in the win against Pitt.

Notre Dame now has just one game remaining before beginning postseason play in the ACC Tournament next week. The Irish will conclude their regular season at home against Louisville (5-10, 2-6 ACC) on Thursday night. The Senior Day matchup will be at 7 p.m. at Arlotta Stadium, and the Irish will recognize their seniors with a ceremony before the game.