Madison Ahern scored six goals as the No. 5 Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team trounced Central Michigan, 24-5, in the season opener Friday at the Loftus Sports Center.
Ahern, a junior, was one of 11 different Irish scorers in the one-sided affair, with graduate attack Maddie Howe and sophomore midfield Kelly Denes also registering hat tricks.
Goalie Bridget Deehan, a graduate student, saw minimal action as the Irish’s aggressiveness limited the Chippewas to just three shots in the game’s first 45 minutes. Deehan ended with two saves and zero goals allowed.
Senior attack Calin Field opened the scoring 4 1⁄2 minutes into the game, burying the first of six Irish goals from the free position. Denes added the Irish’s second tally three minutes later while her squad temporarily played a woman-down due to a foul.
Ahern scored her first in a sensational sextet about 90 seconds later, taking a blow from the punishing Chippewas defense while putting it past junior goalkeeper Erin Owens. The Chippewas netminder had a tough outing, saving just 7 of 31 shots on goal in nearly 53 minutes of action.
Central Michigan committed 18 fouls to Notre Dame’s 15 and turned over the ball 15 times against just 7 Irish miscues.
The Irish led 16-0 at half, and bettered the Chippewas in every statistical category.
Mary Kelly Doherty, a sophomore midfielder, junior attack Jane McAvoy and freshman Ava Kristynik scored their first career Irish goals. Denes exceeded her entire 2021 season total in goals (2) with three in this game alone.
Howe recorded her 200th career point early in the third quarter.
Twins Kendall and Kelly Hoyt scored 3 of the Chippewas’ five goals, which all came in the fourth quarter against Irish reserve goaltenders Lilly Callahan and Isabel Pithie. Junior midfield Kasey Choma led all players with six draw controls, while Audrey Whiteside led the Chippewas with five wins in the draw circle.
The Irish were a perfect 9-for-9 in clearing the ball from their own defensive end.
While the Chippewas are coming off their program’s best ever season at 9-6, the degree of difficulty will immediately increase for the Irish. The team, which was preseason ranked 5th in the Inside Lacrosse Women’s Division 1 poll, will host No. 23 Michigan at 6 p.m. Sunday at Loftus.
The Irish were picked to finish fourth in the ACC this season, behind defending champion Boston College, North Carolina and Syracuse. Notre Dame was a combined 0-7 versus those three teams last year, finishing with a 11-7 record and advancing to the NCAA tournament quarterfinals.
Christine Halfpenny, who leads the Irish for the 11th consecutive year, improved her Irish record to 114-64 with Friday’s victory. The 24 goals scored were the most Notre Dame has tallied since beating the Chippewas, 24-4, two years ago.
Central Michigan will play another ACC foe, Louisville, on Feb. 20.