April 6, 2017
By Megan Golden
ATLANTA — The No. 12 University of Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team displayed an offensive clinic in a historic 24-4 victory over Kennesaw State on Thursday at Fifth Third Bank Stadium.
Notre Dame (10-5) erupted for 24 goals, marking a new program high for goals scored on the road. The Irish handed the Owls (5-5) their fifth loss of the season. With the win, Notre Dame improve to 7-3 in non-conference games this season.
“It was a really great top-to-bottom team effort, where everyone really contributed and made plays all over the field,” Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny said. “The best part of it was a lot of them were two-women plays.
“Given that it’s spring travel, we had some crazy stuff happen to the point where we had a shortened night of sleep, and we had to rearrange some of our game day activities to try and get as much sleep as possible. It’s good to see them come out in such impressive fashion, and the amount of effort and enthusiasm they brought to the table was just awesome.”
How It Happened
Just as the sun peeked its way through the clouds, the Irish opened the game by winning the draw control and taking the first lead of the game.
Notre Dame and Kennesaw State swapped goals over the next several minutes, but the Irish used a 12-1 run to close a dominant first half and lead 14-3 at the break.
Senior Cortney Fortunato scored six goals in the first half, matching the school record for most goals in a half (fourth occurrence in school history). She finished two goals and two points shy of her career high in the first period. Fortunato was one first-half point away from tying Jillian Byers’ record of nine points in a half in the first half against the Owls.
It was only appropriate that Fortunato opened the scoring in the second half as she tallied her seventh goal of the day at the 27:03 mark.
The Irish wasted no time offensively, scoring from all over the field on breakaway possessions and on quick passes around the crease.
Notre Dame won the draw control battle, 17-12. Senior Casey Pearsall, who previously shared the school record for most draw controls in a game, set the record with 10 in the game.
Notre Dame limited the Owls to one goal in the second half, while simultaneously continuing its offensive explosion on the other end of the field. The Irish scored 10 goals in the second half to win 24-3 and finish with its most goals in a game since it scored 24 against Detroit Mercy on Feb. 11.
Player of the Game
Fortunato scored eight goals and collected three assists, totaling 11 points in the game. She recorded six goals and two assists in the first half, equaling the program record for most goals in a half and coming one point shy of the school record for most points in a half.
Fortunato added three ground balls and two caused turnovers in the game.
The attacker scored her 50th goal of the season at the 15:17 mark of the second half. Her eight goals in the game are one away from tying Crysti Foote’s school record of nine. In addition, Fortunato’s 11 points are one shy of equaling Jillian Byers’ single-game record of 12.
Fortunato collected her 40th career hat trick, and the Irish improved to 32-8 in those games.
“That starts and finishes with her shot selection,” Halfpenny said. “To be honest, she’s had two incredible weeks of preparation in practice on shot selection. She’s done a great job of being specific with what she wants to do and disciplining herself. That’s been outstanding to see.
“She has a middie stat line. She makes her presence known everywhere. Her leadership of the team today — when there was a lot of adversity thrown at us that was completely out of our control — elevated our performance. When you bring that mentality, bring that confidence, goals follow and stops follow. I’m really proud of her. It’s really exciting to see this happen at this point in her career.”
Stat of the Game
Notre Dame scored 24 goals, setting a program record for most goals in a road game. The Irish took 44 shots in the game, recording a .545 shooting percentage in the game.
Nine different Irish players scored for Notre Dame, and four players recorded hat tricks.
“We had nine scorers on the day. We’re sharing the ball and moving it through a lot of people’s hands,” Halfpenny said. “We’ve been looking to continue to develop the chemistry we need at a rate that’s consistent. We had a really great week of preparation to really focus on ourselves, and that’s where all the focus was this week. Let’s focus on our motion, primarily our off-ball movement, and then our communication so that we could be deliberate in what we were doing.”
Coming Up Next
The Irish return to action at noon ET on Saturday, April 15, when they host No. 20 Virginia Tech on Senior Day. Admission is free and open to the public.
For a closer, behind-the-scenes look at the Irish women’s lacrosse program, follow @NDWomensLax on Twitter and ndwlax on Snapchat.
Megan Golden, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since August of 2016. In her role, she coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse and cross country/track and field programs. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Golden is a 2014 graduate of Saint Mary’s College and former Irish women’s basketball manager. Prior to arriving at Notre Dame, she worked in public relations with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox.