To call Kent State inexperienced in women’s lacrosse isn’t a slight as much as a reflection of reality.
The Golden Flashes officially launched their program this year, with a roster of two sophomores and 24 freshmen. By contrast, Notre Dame — the Flashes’ Sunday opponent — was undefeated four games into their 23rd season as a program and boasted a roster littered with Top 50 recruits.
Kent State’s official site summarized the “setback” suffered Sunday at Loftus Sports Center in just 71 words. What more could be said of a 27-0 Irish victory in which the Flashes managed just one shot in 60 minutes of play?
Thirteen different players scored for the 20th-ranked Irish Sunday, with sophomore midfielder Andie Aldave leading all players with four goals.
The Irish (5-0) preyed on their tenderfoot opposition, winning 20 of 27 draw controls, aggressively challenging for loose balls and forcing 11 turnovers. By exploiting their speed and physicality, Notre Dame set new program records for most goals in a home game and largest margin of victory. They also notched the program’s first shutout since blanking Villanova in April 2010.
The Irish converted eight of 11 free position shots following Flashes’ miscues and limited their own turnovers to just four (two of which were unforced).
Grace Merrill, the Flashes’ freshman goaltender, stopped just six of the Irish’s 25 shots on goal. Her replacement, Bridgette Kiefer, was ineffective as well, failing to notch a single save in eight shots on goal.
Besides Aldave, junior midfielder Cassie Ford and freshman midfielder Hannah Dorney each had three goals. Ford’s second goal was perhaps the most accurate reflection of the Flashes’ struggles Sunday. The Summit, N.J. product lost the handle while charging the goal from the free position, but the loose ball somehow blooped over Merrill’s outstretched stick into the net. Kiefer re-entered the game immediately afterward.
Freshman attack Mollie Carr, sophomore midfielders Katie Enrietto and Maddie Howe, senior attack Samathana Lynch, junior attack Jessi Masinko, senior attack Nikki Ortega and junior midfielder Haley Schultz all had multiple goals.
The Irish begin their ACC slate at 2 p.m. Saturday against Louisville. The conference schedule will be considerably harder than the Irish’s first five opponents, which have gone a collective 9-10 so far this year.
The Cardinals are just 1-3, but there are five ACC teams currently ranked ahead of Notre Dame in the polls: No. 1 Boston College, No. 2 North Carolina, No. 7 Syracuse, No. 11 Virginia and No. 15 Duke.
The Irish will play all five of those teams in an eight game stretch between March 14 and April 14, which will go a long way to determining if this hot start is legitimate or fool’s good.