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Notre Dame Women’s Lacrosse: Irish Extend Perfect Start with 21-4 Win Over Canisius

Eleven different players score goals in dominating home opener.

Samantha Lynch (33) celebrates with her teammates, including Nikki Ortega (3) during Notre Dame’s 21-4 win over Canisius Sunday.
Mike Miller/Fighting Irish Media

Notre Dame women played fast and aggressive.

Twenty-one goals is really quite impressive.

Irish sticks excel in transition.

Result of the first two games? Demolition.

Eleven different Notre Dame players scored goals — including career firsts for freshmen Callin Field and Hannah Dorney — as the Irish women’s lacrosse team dominated Canisius, 21-4, on Sunday.

The Irish (2-0) caused 11 Golden Griffins turnovers and executed a fast-paced transition offense that took advantage of an opponent slow to adjust to stake out to a 10-3 halftime lead.

Makenna Pearsall, a senior midfielder/defensewoman, opened the scoring with a free position shot about 90 seconds into the game.

Two minutes later, it was junior defensewoman Kathleen Roe scoring after running the entire length of the field following a Samantha Giacolone save on a Griffins’ free position attempt.

“We focus a lot on our transition game being fast and I think we nailed it,” Roe told UND.com after the game. “It was a complete team effort beginning with Sam in goal, our defensive effort and then our attackers putting the ball in the back of the net.”

Samantha Lynch, who had a career-tying six goals in the Irish’s opening win Friday against Marquette, found a narrow seam between Griffins’ goalie Ellen Newton’s body and the post for the Irish’s third goal.

The Irish added two goals from senior attack Nikki Ortega and another from freshman midfielder Mollie Carr before the Griffins responded with one of their own. Midfielder Jen Reininger took advantage of an aggressive, but failed, effort by Giacolone to control the ball behind the Irish net.

The Irish attack tandem of Jessi Masinko, a junior, and Ortega then scored the next two goals on transitions. Ortega gave up a good look to hit Masinko on a two-on-one in front of the Griffins’ goal, and Masinko returned the favor two minutes later with a cross-crease pass that allowed Ortega to notch a hat trick less than 23 minutes into the game.

Reininger, Canisius’ one woman wrecking crew, slipped two in a row past Giacolone before Roe — who split a double team — and Lynch, on a free position, closed out the first half scoring.

The Irish entered halftime with 17 shots on goal; the team would finish with 31 on 35 total shots.

Like Marquette before them, Canisius demonstrated an inability to maintain control of the ball and spent most of the first half defending their end against an Irish attack that was faster and more aggressive than the Griffins.

Canisius opened the second half one player down after a yellow card twenty second before the half, but seemed — at least initially — unphased.

Sophomore midfielder Marissa Malvaso scored a shorthanded goal just 93 seconds into the new half, cutting the Griffins’ deficit to just six goals.

The Irish — or, more specifically, sophomore midfielder Maddie Howe — erupted, scoring four times in the next two minutes. Howe had three goals in 90 seconds and, unsurprisingly, drew a defender 40 seconds later when she connected with a cutting Lynch, who buried it for her a hat trick of her own.

Lynch would score twice more before Coach Christine Halfpenny turned to her bench for the remainder of the game. Dorney scored two goals, sophomore midfielders Katie Enrietto and Diana Kelly scored their first of the season and Field capped the deluge of goals by converting a free position attempt with just nine seconds remaining.

By the final gun, the Irish had caused 18 turnovers, scooped up 23 ground balls and won 16 out of 26 draw controls.

“[The] keys to these first two games were all effort-based,” said Halfpenny after the game. “We felt like we controlled the tempo in each of our two games this weekend. I was really pleased with our performance on both offense and defense and how both facets of the game led to increased time of possession.”

The Irish next travel to Lynchburg, Va., for an 11 a.m. Sunday faceoff against Liberty, who defeated Lehigh in their season opener Saturday.

GRACE, TOO

Today’s home opener was an ACC Network Extra broadcast and shown on ESPN’s streaming service.

If you watch sports such as women’s lacrosse that draw low in-person numbers, the broadcast teams are typically students who have rarely watched — and oftentimes never played — the sport they’re about to call, which can lead to prolonged silences or worse, outright confusion.

Today’s play-by-play was handled by Austin Rooney, a Notre Dame junior who has been on calls for women’s and men’s basketball, men’s hockey, men’s soccer and women’s volleyball games. If this was his first time calling women’s lacrosse, he acquitted himself well.

But the broadcast team was strengthened by the color commentary of Grace Kelly, a freshman who played lacrosse at Culver Academies in South Bend and is now pursuing journalism at Notre Dame.

Kelly was insightful without being too technical, weaved in explanations of rules changes where appropriate and relayed officials’ foul calls without hesitation.

For older readers, Kelly’s name may conjure memories of the talented actress who became Princess of Monaco.

The Grace Kelly attending Notre Dame and calling women’s lacrosse games isn’t royalty, but she does have a semi-famous father: head football coach Brian Kelly.

It was Kelly’s expertise, not her pedigree, that impressed Sunday.

For the sake of the hundreds (dozens?) of us who watch women’s lacrosse, I’m hoping Kelly is on future Notre Dame Fighting Irish Media and ACC Network / ESPN broadcasts.