May 18, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – For just the second time in school history, the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team has four IWLCA All-America selections as Cortney Fortunato (first team), Barbara Sullivan (first team), Alex Dalton (second team) and Casey Pearsall (third team) all had that honor bestowed upon them today by the sport’s coaching association.
Only No. 1 Maryland (five) had more All-Americans in 2015 while North Carolina and Virginia matched Notre Dame’s four. Sullivan also earned first-team honors in 2013 while Fortunato received third-team recognition as a freshman in 2014. This is the first All-America citation for either Dalton or Pearsall. All four had been named to the All-West/Midwest region first-team last week while teammate Stephanie Peragallo also received second-team all-region honors.
The only other time that the Irish have had either two first team IWLCA All-America picks or four total honorees came in 2009 when Shannon Burke (first team), Jillian Byers (first team), Shaylyn Blaney (second team) and Gina Scioscia (second team) received All-America accolades.
“I’m so proud of Barbara, Cortney, Alex, and Casey for all of the effort and execution they put into the 2014-2015 school year,” Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny said. “To be recognized by the IWLCA as 2015 All-Americans is an incredible honor for each of them individually and for our program collectively.
“This is, without a doubt, a boost of confidence for each of them. What’s most exciting is having all four honorees return, Cort, Alex and Casey as juniors and Barbara as a graduate student. I look forward to this recognition motivating each of them, as well as our team, for the 2016 season. Our team is hungry to put all of the pieces together for a strong 2016 campaign. I look forward to the seasoned and proven upperclassmen that will lead the way next year.”
Dalton started all 20 games and, although used primarily as a defensive player, made her presence known both with speed in transition and in the offensive third on occasion too. Dalton led the Irish with 43 ground balls on the season caused 20 turnovers and ranked third on the team with 41 draw controls. Meanwhile, Daltons cored eight goals herself with three assists for 11 points. Her lone game-winning goal of the year was a critical one, helping the Irish down Ohio State, 13-11, in the first round of the NCAA tournament on May 8. Dalton ended the season with a run of 10 straight games scooping up at least two ground balls, averaging 3.0 per game.
Fortunato, a nominee for the Tewaaraton Award and a second-team All-ACC selection, scored 56 goals and added 20 assists for 76 points. The 56 goals are the most by a Notre Dame player since Jillian Byers’ school record 83 in 2009. She netted 10 hat tricks on the season and set a school record for most goals scored in a home game when she tallied eight times against Virginia Tech on March 14. Fortunato’s contributions were not limited to the offensive realm. She caused 30 turnovers, got 28 ground balls and tallied 24 draw controls. Fortunato is one of just three players nationally with at least 50 goals scored and 30 caused turnovers in 2015, joining Taylor Cummings of Maryland and Shannon Gallagher of Winthrop.
A physical all-field player, Pearsall scored 16 goals with 18 assists for 34 points on the year while gobbling up 23 ground balls, controlling 42 draws and causing 22 turnovers. She ranked third in the ACC by causing 1.38 turnovers per game and stands eighth in the elite conference with 2.63 draw controls per game. Pearsall’s value was perhaps best reflected in how the Irish fared without her for much of the final month of the season after suffering an injury on April 16 against Northwestern. Notre Dame went 2-4 in the final six games of the season where Pearsall played less than a half or nothing at all after entering that stretch winning six out of seven games.
The school’s third finalist for the Tewaaraton Award and first since 2009, Sullivan was named the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year after proving to be a dominating presence both in front of the Irish goal and also on draw controls. Sullivan set a school record by controlling 85 draws on the season, including nine in the team’s 14-4 win at No. 4 Virginia on April 4 to tie her own school single game record. Sullivan caused 36 turnovers on the season, by far leading the ACC, while also grabbing 42 ground balls. Sullivan was named first-team All-ACC for her work this year and also claimed a spot on the ACC’s all-tournament team after controlling nine draws, grabbing six ground balls and causing five turnovers in games against No. 5 Virginia and No. 2 North Carolina.