May 5, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Atlantic Coast Conference is the best in the nation for women’s lacrosse and, in a vote of the league’s coaches, Notre Dame’s Barbara Sullivan was recognized on Tuesday as the best defender in it as she claimed the ACC Defensive Player of the Year award.
The Tewaaraton Award nominee leads the ACC in caused turnovers (1.83 per game) while also ranking fourth in ground balls (2.22 per game) and fifth in draw controls (3.94 per game). Sullivan has set Irish school records this year for both single season (73) and career (194) draw controls while matching her single game school record of nine in Notre Dame’s 14-4 win at No. 4 Virginia on April 4. She is currently fifth in career ground balls and sixth in career caused turnovers at Notre Dame.
A team captain, Sullivan is the leader of an aggressive defense which ranks third nationally in caused turnovers at 11.22 per game. She is the best defender in a unit that has helped limit Irish opponents to single digit scoring 10 times this year, the school’s most single-digit defensive outings since the 2004 team had 12. Four of these single-digit defensive games came against teams that received seeds for the NCAA tournament (No. 2 North Carolina, No. 6 Stony Brook and No. 7 Virginia – twice).
Sullivan helped the Irish to a school record three wins over top 10 teams this season, remarkably, all of them coming both on the road and in the month of April. In those three games (wins at No. 4 Virginia, No. 7 Syracuse and at No. 5 Virginia again in the ACC quarterfinals), Sullivan had 17 draw controls, 10 ground balls and five caused turnovers to help bolster the Irish cause.
A first-team All-American in 2013, Sullivan missed almost all of the 2014 season with a back injury and played her way into shape during the first half of 2015. She earned first-team All-ACC honors in 2015 while also claiming a spot on the ACC’s all-tournament team with six ground balls, nine draw controls and five caused turnovers in games against No. 5 Virginia and No. 2 North Carolina.
Sullivan is the first Notre Dame player to claim a league’s positional player of the year award outright since 2008 when Caitlin McKinney was named the BIG EAST Midfielder of the Year. Jillian Byers shared the 2009 BIG EAST Attack Player of the Year accolade.
The Irish (10-8) return to action on Friday when they face Ohio State (13-7) in the first round of the NCAA championship at Northwestern’s Lakeside Field in Evanston, Illinois. The game will begin at approximately 6 p.m. CDT, shortly after the conclusion of the Wildcats’ (12-6) 3:30 p.m. CDT first round matchup with Louisville (10-7). Notre Dame claimed a 13-5 win over the Buckeyes on March 21 at Arlotta Stadium but Ohio State has taken significant strides since, including a win over No. 1 Maryland in the Big Ten semifinals – the only loss suffered this season by the Terrapins.