The Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team will begin its seventh NCAA Tournament run in eight seasons Friday when they play Stanford at Ryan Fieldhouse in Evanston, Ill.
The Irish (13-4) will face Stanford (13-5) for the first time since 2016, with the winner playing fourth-seeded Northwestern (14-4) on Sunday. The Wildcats are not only Big Ten Tournament champions, they beat Notre Dame, 15-11, on April 20.
Game time for the first round game is to be determined.
“It’s great to be one of the 28 teams that gets to practice together for at least another week,” Coach Christine Halfpenny told UND.com. “I’m very excited to start this NCAA Tournament journey with this group and can’t wait to compete on Friday.”
The Irish started 9-0, but have struggled down the stretch as the competition intensified. The skid culminated in a head-scratching 14-13 loss to Duke in the first round of the ACC Tournament — a team they had beat by eight goals just 10 days earlier.
Notre Dame is still second in the country in draw control percentage, winning 63.5 percent of their faceoffs; fifth in the nation in scoring defense (just 7.71 goals allowed per game); and fifth in turnovers per game (12.71). They’re also seventh in save percentage, with 50.6 percent of opponent shots on goal denied.
Stanford and Notre Dame had no common opponents this year. The Cardinal lost their opening game to Denver, and lost twice each to Colorado and USC, the two best teams in the Pac-12.
The Cardinal’s strength is also in the draw control circle. They’re seventh in the country, with wins on 61.1 percent of draws. They’re two primary weaknesses are converting free position attempts and turning over their opponents.
Ali Baiocco is Stanford’s most potent player, with 50 goals and 28 assists on 88 shots on goal. The sophomore attack played high school lacrosse at Oak Knoll (Summit, N.J.), where she was teammates with Irish sophomore defensewoman Lizzy Doherty, sophomore midfielder Diana Kelly and junior midfielder/attack Cassie Ford.
Andie Aldave, a sophomore midfielder, and Samantha Giacolone, a senior goaltender for the Irish, were named as two of the 25 finalists for the Tewaaraton Award, which is given to the sport’s most outstanding player. The five finalists will be announced Thursday.
Aldave, Giacolone, sophomore attack Maddie Howe and senior defense Hannah Proctor were also named recently to the All-ACC First Team, with junior midfielder Savannah Buchanan being recognized as All-ACC Second Team.
Here are the final women’s brackets. The Irish men will host Johns Hopkins in the first round, with the winner to play whoever prevails in a game between Duke and Richmond.