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Saturday, May 25, 2024
The Observer

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Irish begin season-ending road trip with gritty win over Liberty

Irish beat Flames 12-5, prepare to face Virginia Tech on Saturday

Thursday afternoon was hardly a marquee moment on the Notre Dame women's lacrosse calendar. It was a game day, with the Irish starting a season-ending three-game road trip by heading to Liberty. Not only are the 4-9 Flames not a top-tier opponent, but the game was played in driving rain.

It was a miserable day to be outside, the type of game where teams just hope to get in and get out with a victory. That's exactly what the Irish did, taking the lead 46 seconds in on a goal by senior attacker Abby Maichin, stretching it to 6-0 by the end of the first quarter and never letting the Flames get within five.

It wasn't the team's typical dominance against non-elite competition. The Irish won the first two of those aforementioned quick turnarounds against Central Michigan and Butler by a combined margin of 47-6. But the Irish hung tough amid the terrible conditions and a stellar performance by Liberty goalie Mara Tellers (16 saves on 28 shots), avoiding a letdown with the postseason now just two weeks away.

The Irish will have a two-day turnaround for the fourth time this season and the second time on the road as they travel from Lynchburg to Blacksburg to take on Virginia Tech. The Hokies are 9-6 on the season but just 2-5 in ACC play and are winless against teams currently ranked, which makes Saturday's game matter even more to them. They are 5-2 at home, though they'll be going head-to-head with an Irish team seeking a perfect regular season on the road.

The Hokies struggle as a team on offense, but Kayla Downey is sixth in the conference in points per game and one of three Hokies with 20 or more goals (Olivia Vergano and Paige Tyson are the others with 36 and 28 goals, respectively). Goalkeeper Jocelyn Torres has been a huge part of their success this season, posting a .427 save percentage and averaging 6.56 saves per game, fifth in the ACC.

Notre Dame handed Virginia Tech its worst loss of 2023, winning by a lopsided 14-1 final tally. Graduate student attacker Kasey Choma scored a career-high eight goals. For the second time in her career, Choma's peak single-game goal tally was achieved against the Hokies, matching her six-goal feat from her sophomore year in 2021. Graduate student attackers Jackie Wolak and Madison Ahern also scored four points each, and senior Lilly Callahan stopped six of seven shots in goal.

The Irish and Hokies face off in their penultimate regular season contest at noon on Saturday.