A two-game road stint ended Sunday in South Bend, Indiana, for the women’s lacrosse team, as they suffered a loss in a tooth-and-nail battle against the No. 4 Fighting Irish, 15–13. This is the third team in a row the Hokies have faced in the top 10, according to the NCAA Inside Lacrosse Poll. They will face off against two more top 10 opponents in the next two weeks, including the No.1 team in the country, Boston College.
On paper, the two teams have eerily similar stat sheets. Each team threw over 30 shots, suffered 12 turnovers and scored a goal off five free possession shots. Sophomore Paige Petty’s four goals were matched by Notre Dame’s Maddie Howe, and Morgan Berman’s 12 saves were mirrored by Samantha Giacolone in goal for the Irish.
As cliche as it is, in games like these, it all comes down to the little things. The small places where Notre Dame ran just a little faster or snapped up one more draw control is where the difference is. And while Tech was able to come back with a fire in the second half, leading to a six-goal run to finish the game, Notre Dame’s consistency throughout the first half propelled it into a comfortable lead quickly, forcing the Hokies to play catch-up the entire time, which is a tiring style of play.
Out of the gate, the Fighting Irish tossed in five goals in the first five minutes, setting an aggressive tone for the rest of the matchup, forcing Tech to battle back and respond quickly. The Hokies were able to make up for lost time, posting five of their own goals, but allowing four more before heading into the locker room. The Irish dominated on ground balls throughout the first half as well, scooping up 12 to the Hokies’ mere five.
Despite being a seemingly insignificant statistic, ground ball control is integral to being successful in a lacrosse game. Off turnovers, they can lead to power plays that involve a swift flick of the stick, where suddenly the ball is halfway down the field, and then in the back of the opposing team’s goal.
Coming out of the locker room, the Hokies had to fire quickly in order to catch up to the Irish’s decent lead. Emma Crooks and Petty were able to put some numbers on the board for the Hokies and cut the deficit to two. To the dismay of Tech’s players, Notre Dame also took advantage of its opportunity to regroup, scoring another five goals within the next six minutes, extending its lead to eight goals.
Refusing to quit, the Hokies put their foot on the gas. They scored six goals in the last seven and a half minutes of the game from six different players, including the goal that secured Sarah Lubnow’s first career hat trick. This was accompanied by 14 shots on goal.
Next week the Hokies return home to Blacksburg to face the No.1 team in the country, Boston College, on Saturday at noon. One week later, they finish out their season and ACC game run, facing another top 10 team, No. 7 University of Virginia.