Mar 4, 2013, 9:44 AM EDT
Up until the end of the first half of Saturday’s dance with Duquesne in the 27-degree Pittsburgh cold, it was highly conceivable to think the ninth-ranked Irish fell right into the let down trap. After unranked Atlantic 10 contender Duquesne took the lead 5-3 with only thirty minutes to play, the Irish showed tremendous athletic and mental strength to score seven goals in the second half and only allow Duquesne to sneak three past senior goalie Ellie Hilling for a 10-8 Irish win.
This is not the type of victory that will receive national attention for a Notre Dame team coming off of a home opener over highly regarded Ohio State, but the Irish have survived every test thrown at them thus far for a 3-0 start. Head coach Christine Halfpenny has guided her team to two straight 3-0 seasons, piecing together a seemingly overnight program resurgence after the Irish hadn’t started a season 3-0 since 2007-2008.
Duquesne started the game off strongly, scoring four goals in a row during the opening half. Caitlin Prince scored two of those four goals for Duquesne until sophomore Shauna Pugliese broke the scoreless streak with a free position shot. Senior attack player Jenny Granger and midfielder Margaret Smith were the stars of the second half and each scored two goals to give the Irish the victory. Granger added five points to her name on the stat sheet with those two vital goals and three assists. Jaimie Morrison showed off her scoring prowess with two goals of her own and Kaitlyn Brosco was selfless in her play with two assists to support her teammates’ goal scoring. The Irish were in control of the ball in the second half, forcing Ellie Hilling to make only five of her twelve saves in the final period of the game.
Notre Dame really turned up the offensive heat in the second half. They only attempted ten total shots in the first half, but 27 in the second. The Irish edged out Duquesne in the draw controls (11-10) and won the battle for ground balls (14-12).
The Irish will return home for their second home game of the year against Detroit on Tuesday at 6 pm ET. After beginning last year 8-0, Notre Dame set the tone for early season losses as unacceptable. Notre Dame’s confidence has shown through in the first three games and it will take a large amount of intensity and focus in order to continue on the path of winning.
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