Christine Halfpenny is a 1999 Virginia Tech graduate, but this was not the homecoming the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse coach could have hoped for or expected.
The No. 17 Irish (5-3, 1-2 ACC) dropped their first game in nine all-time contests against the unranked Hokies (6-3, 2-0 ACC), who suffocated Notre Dame’s potent offensive attack for most of the afternoon.
Freshman midfielder Andie Aldave’s hat trick wasn’t enough to erase a 6-1 halftime deficit, as the Irish fell, 9-6 in Blacksburg. Seniors Molly Cobb and Abi Cullinan and sophomore midfielder Savannah Buchanan had the other goals for the Irish, all in the second half.
Junior goaltender Samathana Giacolone surrendered nine goals while saving an additional eight, but was overshadowed by an outstanding performance by Hokies senior Meagh Graham — who had nine saves and yielded only six goals, well above her 42.1 percent save percentage coming into the game.
Notre Dame’s inability to capitalize on seven of nine free position attempts ultimately doomed them. The Irish did score on two separate woman-up opportunities, but showed signs of sloppiness on both sides of the ball, committing 40 fouls and turning the ball over 20 times.
The Irish’s one first half goal was their fewest since they tallied a single score in a 17-3 loss to Duke in March 2015. They had been averaging close to 14 goals per game entering today’s contest.
There were a few bright spots in a game led wire-to-wire by the Irish’s opponent.
Notre Dame extended its streak of holding an opponent scoreless for at least 10 minutes to eight games after the Hokies went more than 13 minutes in the second half without finding the back of the net.
Aldave had won four faceoffs (draw controls), tied for the team lead in the game. She’s tied for second in the NCAA with 56 for the season, behind Duke’s Olivia Jenner who recorded an insane 15 draw controls in the Blue Devils’ game Saturday against Louisville. (Fairfield’s Erin Mammele also has 56.)
Notre Dame will travel to North Carolina to play the High Point University Panthers (3-2) at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Vert Stadium.