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Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame women's lacrosse prepares for ACC tournament

Wednesday afternoon Notre Dame women’s lacrosse will open ACC tournament play in Charlotte, North Carolina.

The eight-team field is about as deep as they’ll come. Over half the teams competing rank in the national top 15. Three crack the top five in national RPI.

Leading the pack is Syracuse, ranked second in the country behind Northwestern. The Orange have only lost one game this year, but it was their most recent, a thrilling 17-16 defeat to Boston College at home. The loss dropped Syracuse from the national top ranking, which they had previously held.

The aforementioned Eagles took the top seed for the tournament as a result of their head-to-head win over Syracuse, despite ranking lower in both the national polls and RPI. Notre Dame had a serious shot to take down the Eagles over Easter weekend, but fell at Arlotta Field. The Irish led by four goals with 10 minutes to play, but collapsed down the stretch. The Eagles tied the contest with two minutes remaining and won it with just 12 seconds left on the clock.

Rounding out the top three seeds is North Carolina, the defending national champions. Notre Dame’s signature win on the year came against the Tar Heels, with the Irish dispatching the No. 6 team in the country 16-12 at Arlotta.

Notre Dame will participate in the fourth versus fifth seed matchup, squaring off with Virginia. The two sides, on paper, are about as even as they come. They enter with even records in conference play, both teams standing at 6-3. RPI ranks the Irish one spot higher, No. 11 to No. 12 respectively. The main difference is the tie-breaker between the two teams’ equal ACC records, a 16-13 victory by the Cavaliers in Charlottesville. 

Despite the head-to-head loss, Notre Dame’s momentum should inspire confidence heading into Wednesday. The Irish have won four consecutive games since their crushing loss to Boston College. Virginia has dropped two in five since they took down Notre Dame.

The Irish also hold a distinct advantage on the defensive side of the ball. Notre Dame boasts one of the best goals-against records in the ACC, only allowing 135 goals in 16 games. The Cavaliers, on the other hand, rank in the bottom half of the conference defensively, having allowed 209 goals in the same amount of games.

Notably, neither the Irish or Cavaliers have excelled away from home on the year. While both teams have stellar records on familiar territory (Notre Dame is 8-1 at Arlotta and Virginia is 6-0 in Charlottesville), both are about average on the road. The Irish have a 4-3 record in away or neutral contests while the Cavaliers are 5-5.

Notre Dame women’s lacrosse will be back in action Wednesday afternoon against Virginia in the ACC tournament quarterfinals. The game is slated for a 1:30 p.m. start and will be broadcast on the ACC Network.