By Megan Golden
PRINCETON, N.J. — Making its sixth straight appearance in the NCAA Championship, the No. 15 University of Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team suffered a heartbreaking 12-7 loss to No. 12 Cornell, putting an end to its 2017 season on Friday at Princeton’s Class of ’52 Stadium.
The senior class led Notre Dame’s attack out of the gates, showcasing its three years of postseason experience with poise and intensity all over the field.
Cortney Fortunato hustled to record her 24th caused turnover of the season within the first two minutes of the game. Fellow co-captain Casey Pearsall carried the ball the length of the field, getting the ball in the hands of Grace Muller, who put the Irish up, 1-0.
Minutes later, Cornell (13-5) found itself trapped in the Irish defense, and it was Katherine Eilers who came up with the ground ball to end the Big Red’s possession. Again, the Irish worked their way down the field, and Heidi Annaheim tallied her 12th goal of the year to extend Notre Dame’s lead to 2-0.
Cornell evened the game at 2-2, but the Irish quickly regained the lead and led until the 1:39 mark of the first half. The Big Red, which came back from being down 5-3, tied the game at 5-5.
The Class of 2017 tallied four points on three goals and one assist in the first half, and the Irish went to the locker room with the score knotted, 5-5, at halftime.
Princeton opened the second half with three consecutive goals, taking an 8-5 lead within the first six minutes of the half. Trailing 9-5, Fortunato and Pearsall netted back-to-back goals, cutting the deficit to 9-7 at the 10:00 mark.
The Irish lost the draw control battle 14-7 and won just two of 10 draws in the second half.
“We had a great, collective fight out there but couldn’t gain enough draws in the second half to put ourselves in position to win,” Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny said.
Cornell added three more goals and ultimately defeated the Irish, 12-7.
With the loss, Notre Dame (11-8) drops to 7-12 all-time in the NCAA tournament and 7-5 against Ivy League regular-season champion Cornell.
Players of the Game
There is no question that the Irish senior class left their hearts and souls on the field on Friday. The Class of 2017 put up a fight in the final game of their career, tallying seven points on five goals and two assists.
The seniors finished their careers with four NCAA tournament appearances, a 3-4 postseason record and a 46-33 overall record.
“Words can’t express how grateful the program is for the last four years of effort, commitment, heart and soul this senior class has put into Notre Dame women’s lacrosse,” Halfpenny said. “They helped to navigate our new conference affiliation in the ACC and have established Notre Dame as a serious contender nationally by making four straight trips to the NCAA tournament.
“They handled injuries, adversity, defeats and growing pains with great grace. They led with their hearts and always remained true and loyal to the program. I can’t personally thank them enough. I have no doubt the legacy that they’ve left will continue to propel this program towards competing for and winning a national title in the years ahead.”
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.