After winning its first four, the Elon University women’s lacrosse team dropped its first loss of the season Thursday night, falling 16-7 to the No.9/11-ranked University of Notre Dame at Rudd Field.

“We left a lot on the field. I don’t think we were fully present tonight,” said Elon head coach Josh Hexter. “We will learn from this and climb the mountain.”

The Fighting Irish jumped ahead with two unanswered goals before Elon senior attacker Sloane Kessler scored in the first half. She had Elon’s only two goals of the opening frame, keeping Elon at 4-2. But Notre Dame scored five unanswered to close out the half with a seven-goal lead.

Late in the second half, the Phoenix fought back with two goals by sophomore midfielder Jacie Cooper and one by Kessler with less than five minutes left in the game. Junior attacker Stephanie Asher scored one, her 100th career goal. The late rally wasn’t enough to put the Phoenix ahead, but Kessler felt encouraged by the team’s fight.

“The energy was there the whole sixty minutes and that is something to be proud of,” Kessler said.

Elon peppered Notre Dame with 28 shots, just slightly below the Fighting Irish’s 34 shots. Senior goalie Rachel Ramirez finished with 10 saves for Elon, her third game of 2017 with double-digit saves.

Elon will be back in action at 4 p.m. next Wednesday when the Phoenix travels to Blacksburg, Virginia to face Virginia Tech. Kessler feels the Phoenix can build off the Notre Dame matchup as it looks ahead.

“I’m excited to take a few days off and then get back to it,” Kessler said. “We are only going up from here. We are going to take everything from this game, learn from it and be better.”