March 5, 2016
LOUISVILLE, Ky. –
By Leigh Torbin
The trains, as usual, constantly rolled past UofL Lacrosse Stadium on Saturday, from 50 yards south of the field shaking the turf on which No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 11 Louisville, the ACC’s last two undefeated teams, played.
Cars and trucks freely rolled southbound on I-65 just east of the grounds. Airplanes taking off from nearby Louisville International Airport regularly roared not too far overhead.
Unlike the steady frequency of the mass transit engulfing the immediate surroundings, the game which all of the riders of those planes, trains and automobiles went past ebbed and flowed dramatically. Momentum shifted regularly as the contest advanced to two overtimes before the Cardinals (7-0, 2-0 ACC) claimed a 10-9 victory over the Irish (5-1, 1-1).
Notre Dame took a 2-0 lead just 3:48 into the game but the Cardinals counterpunched and tied it 2-2 five minutes later. The Irish then reeled off three straight goals to go up 5-2, a lead the team would maintain but never expand as the Cardinals whittled away at their deficit before tying the game at 8-8 with 9:08 to play and then taking their first lead, 9-8, with 3:02 left.
The Irish defense made a stand and the Notre Dame offense got a game-tying goal from Rachel Sexton, sending the game to overtime tied at nine. Both teams were denied quality scoring chances in the extra session before Louisville eventually scored its sudden death strike.
Kiera McMullan led the Irish on the day with three goals and an assist. Cortney Fortunato picked up three points with two goals and an assist. Samantha Giacolone saved 10 shots in the Irish goal, several of them in spectacular fashion. Casey Pearsall and Brie Custis each caused three turnovers with Custis’ joined by four ground balls.
In the end though, Louisville senior Kaylin Morissette would provide the difference, controlling her ninth draw of the game to open the second overtime session and immediately fast-break passing (her third assist and fifth point) to Kelli Gerding who tallied the game-winner nine seconds into the period.
The 14-8 edge for Louisville in draw controls fueled by Morissette proved to be the one significant discrepancy in the game. Shots on goal (28-26 for Louisville), turnovers (15-15), saves (10-9 for Notre Dame) and other key markers were close to even on the day.
The Irish will aim to get back to their winning ways on Tuesday afternoon when the team heads eastbound to Blacksburg, Virginia, to face Virginia Tech.
Leigh Torbin, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2013 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team while serving as the football publicity team’s top lieutenant. A native of Framingham, Massachusetts, Torbin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in sports management. He has previously worked full-time on the athletic communications staffs at Vanderbilt, Florida, Connecticut and UCF.