The Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team dominated Marquette, 18-3, in the season opener Sunday at Meyo Field at Loftus Sports Center.
Eight players — including three heralded freshmen — scored for the No. 7 Irish, who have never lost to the Golden Eagles in eight tries.
Senior attacker Maddie Howe led all scorers with four goals, while freshman Madison Ahern added three goals and two assists. Notre Dame bested Marquette in shots (35-17), shots on goal (29-11), fouls (17-18), clears, turnovers (10-21) and caused turnovers (17-9).
Marquette had two goals from sophomore attacker Shea Garcia.
Attacker Samathana Lynch, a graduate student, scored within the game’s first 38 seconds to give the Irish a lead they would never relinquish. Howe scored less than four minutes later on a free position attempt following an Eagles’ foul, depositing the ball over Marquette goalie Julianna Horning’s left shoulder.
The Irish, who coverted 46 percent of their free position attempts last year, were 4-for-10 Sunday.
Ahern, considered by Inside Lacrosse to be the second-ranked recruit in 2019, scored her first collegiate goal and then assisted on fellow freshman Kasey Choma’s goal less than a minute later. Choma, a midfielder, is Inside Lacrosse’s top-ranked recruit. She had two goals on three shots Sunday.
The Irish scored seven goals before the Golden Eagles responded with Garcia’s first with 12:13 remaining in the half. Notre Dame held a 11-2 advantage at the half. Notre Dame exploited Marquette’s inexperience; the Golden Eagles are without Grace Gabriel, their all-time leader in goals and points and boast just four seniors against 12 freshmen and 10 sophomores.
Goaltender Bridget Deehan stopped eight of 11 Marquette shots. The junior from Milton, Ga. replaced Samantha Giacolone in net for the Irish. Giacolone, who graduated in 2019, is now an assistant coach for the Furman Paladins.
Marquette coach Meredith Black, a 2004 graduate of Notre Dame, is now 0-8 against her alma mater and 44-70 against everyone else. Christine Halfpenny improved to 7-2 in season openers as Irish coach, and 96-57 overall.
We’ll know much more about Notre Dame’s viability as a national championship contender when the Irish play second-ranked Northwestern Friday night in Evanston. The Irish lost twice to the Wildcats last year, including in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Northwestern was one of the final four teams last year, losing to Maryland in the national semifinal.
The Irish also play top-ranked North Carolina (March 15), No. 4 Syracuse (March 29), No. 5 Boston College (March 7), No. 9 Virginia (April 4) and No. 20 Duke (March 1) this season. Notre Dame went a program-best 5-2 against ACC foes last year and preseason rankings predicted they’d finish third in the conference this year.