Jan. 13, 2017
By Megan Golden
BRADENTON, Fla. — After being cut by Team USA last season, Irish senior Cortney Fortunato continued to work hard, practice by practice, searching for one more chance at her dream. Throughout the course of the season, one particular quote came to mind that inspired her to continue working toward her goal of making Team USA.
“It’s not going to be easy, but it’s going to be worth it.”
Fortunato’s parents raised her to be a hard worker and to persevere. Throughout her college lacrosse career, they reminded her that her work ethic would open the door of opportunity and eventually lead her to her dream.
“I have put in a lot of time, effort, energy, and hard work for many years to get the chance to compete at this level both collegiately and internationally,” Fortunato said. “Getting the opportunity to wear U.S.A. across your chest is truly both a privilege and an honor. It is incredibly rewarding and humbling to be able to compete with and against the best players in the world and to grow as a player along the way.”
A two-time Tewaaraton Trophy Nominee and three-time All-America selection, Fortunato led the 2016 team in points (91), goals (64) and assists (27). She surpassed her own record of 56 goals in a single season (2015) with 64 goals, ranking fourth all-time in the Irish record book. Fortunato currently owns the second-most career goals of any Irish player in program history (166) and ranks fourth with 230 career points.
Irish teammate and fellow captain Casey Pearsall has witnessed Fortunato’s hard work and dedication over the past three seasons. She said the Irish will miss her leadership on offense on Sunday.
“I think it’s definitely going to be a little weird having Cort on the other side of the ball this time,” Pearsall said. “It will take some adjustment to play without her, but we will be looking to continue to hold her high level of play and make her proud.
“Honestly, it’s been so much fun to watch Cort in all that she has accomplished. The hard work, dedication, and determination she consistently brings to our team and the way she plays the game continue to inspire our entire team. Being selected to the U.S. Training Team is a tremendous achievement that was everything and anything but easy, and we couldn’t be more proud. We can’t wait for her to demonstrate all that she brings to our team as she plays with some of the best.”
Fortunato spoke highly of Notre Dame head coach Christine Halfpenny and her willingness to work with her busy training schedule.
“Chris has given me this incredible opportunity to play for Notre Dame and has surrounded me with amazing teammates and friends with whom I can chase one of my dreams of a national championship,” Fortunato said. “She has also always encouraged me and given me confidence to chase my other dream of competing for the national team.”
Team USA currently consists of 25 players and soon will be narrowed down to 20, including 18 players and two alternates. All team selections will be made by Team USA head coach Ricky Fried, who will lead the 20-person roster in the 2017 World Cup in Guildford, England.
The team’s roster features eight players who were 2013 World Champions, including two whom also are 2009 World Champions.
Fortunato, who was a member of the 2011 U.S. U19 team, finally has earned another chance. The path here was certainly not easy, but it was definitely worth it.
And although she will be wearing different uniform colors on Sunday, she will keep jersey No. 15. As for her family, Fortunato said they will be in the stands with a mix of Team USA and Notre Dame colors.
She added, “They could never cheer against the Irish.”
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.