Notre Dame: Year Two Under Halfpenny Kicks off at Stanford

NOTRE DAME, Ind. Year two under head coach Christine Halfpenny gets started at 6:00 p.m. (ET)/3:00 p.m. (PT) Saturday night at Laird Q. Cagan Stadium at Maloney Field in Palo Alto, Calif., as No. 9 Notre Dame meets Stanford in the season opener for both teams.

The Irish (13-5) look to build on an impressive 2012 season under Halfpenny. Notre Dame started the year 8-0 and qualified for both the Big East and NCAA Tournaments after missing the NCAAs in 2011.

Returning are 18 monogram winners, eight players who scored 10 or more goals and a three-year starter in goal in Ellie Hilling. The Irish also welcome in 10 freshmen that are looking to compete for playing time immediately.

Notre Dame was picked third in the Big East preseason, while juniors Margaret Smith and Lindsay Powell and sophomore Barbara Sullivan all earned preseason all-Big East honors. In the national rankings the Irish were picked ninth in the IWLCA Preseason poll, while the deBeer Media Poll tabbed the Irish eighth.

The Cardinal (8-10 in 2012) look to get the season started off on the right foot after a disappointing 2012 season saw them lose the MPSF title for the first time in eight years.

They return nine starters, including all-MPSF selection Anna Kim, and welcome in 11 freshmen.

The meeting will be the 13th in the series between the two teams, with Notre Dame holding an 8-4 edge against Stanford. The Irish are 4-2 at Arlotta and 4-2 in Palo Alto.

Last year the Irish got Halfpenny her first win under the Golden Dome with a 17-14 win over Stanford at Arlotta Stadium. Notre Dame looked impressive offensively as they lit up the scoreboard with 12 first half goals. Scoring early and often was Lindsay Powell, who found the back of the net five times in her collegiate debut. Jaimie Morrison added four goals and Megan Sullivan three as four players scored two or more goals. Maggie Tamasitis got her impressive senior campaign underway with six assists and a goal to earn Big East Offensive Player of the Week accolades and Player of the Week honors.

Season Preview and Notes

Coming off an impressive 2012 season, a talented team guns for league and national supremacy.

A new era for Notre Dame women's lacrosse began in 2012 when Christine Halfpenny took over the program and led the Irish to a 13-5 record and trips to the Big East Semifinals and to the first round of the NCAA Championship in her inaugural season.

Now in year two, Halfpenny and her squad of 31 have big expectations for the 2013 season. Gone are seven monogram winners that accounted for over 37% of the 348 points on the season, but eight starters return, highlighted by three all-region performers and senior goalkeeper Ellie Hilling. Ten freshmen join the fold to help fill empty positions and add depth.

"I would be foolish to say we won't miss Maggie (Tamasitis) distributing the ball near the goal," says Halfpenny. "She is a special player. However it has been really nice to see the players that have moved up into that role. I don't think we'll have one player that steps into that role completely, but I think a number of players will be dynamic enough to feed, to score off the feed and to drive to the goal."

Leading the way for the Irish are all-region players Lindsay Powell (44G, 23DC), Margaret Smith (37GB, 47DC, 31CT) and Barbara Sullivan (40GB, 32DC, 32CT).

Smith and Sullivan were first team IWLCA West/Midwest all-region, while Powell was a second team selection. Smith also became the 15th All-American in Notre Dame history when she was named to the IWLCA third team. All three were named to the preseason all-Big East squad.

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