April 19, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. –
The heavy rain did not begin falling until after the game ended, but the dark clouds that rolled into Arlotta Stadium during the second half mimicked a dour period of play for the home team as No. 10 Notre Dame wrapped up its regular season with a 10-8 loss to No. 14 Louisville on Senior Day. The teams stood tied, 6-6, at halftime, but the Irish (9-7, 3-4 ACC) were held off of the scoreboard for the first 19:18 of the second stanza by the opportunistic Cardinals (10-6, 2-5 ACC) who claimed their first win over Notre Dame in seven attempts all-time.
Cortney Fortunato had a big day for the Irish, netting her 10th hat trick in 16 contests this year – tallying four times with a pair of assists for six points. Unfortunately, only one of those points came in the second half and several regular contributors to the scoring ledger were absent on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Irish’s pressuring defense helped create just 11 turnovers, the second-lowest sum of the season against Notre Dame and lowest since Boston College committed just eight turnovers on March 6. The Irish were also challenged by playing for the first time this year without two-way midfield stalwart Casey Pearsall who missed the contest due to injury.
The time is now for the Irish to shake off its Senior Day showing as the ACC Tournament beckons. Notre Dame holds the fifth seed and will open play on Thursday at 1 p.m. against fourth-seeded Virginia on the Cavaliers’ home field at KlÃƒÆ’Â¶ckner Stadium. The good news is that the Irish steamrolled Virginia on April 4 on that same field, opening the game on an 11-0 burst before settling in for a 14-4 final. The bad news is that the Cavaliers (11-5, 4-3 ACC) assuredly have not forgotten that day and will be out for revenge on Thursday.
“We’re lacking passion,” head coach Christine Halfpenny said of today’s game. “We’re lacking consistent focus. At the end of the season, it’s time to move forward. This is where we have to continue to mature as a team if we want to get what we want to get. We want to continue to try and prove that we are one of the best teams in the country. When you’re trying to do that, you have to be 100-percent focused with your effort, your passion and your execution together – it is a community effort. There were too many people that seemed to be doing it alone today. There was not enough focus today and it’s really disappointing to have that happen on Senior Day on our home turf. It was our last regular season game on Arlotta where we’ve been great all year. Today, we were not.”
Most major statistical categories were nearly even. Notre Dame led draw controls, 11-9. Louisville led ground balls, 13-12. Turnovers were 11-9 with the Cardinals committing the two extra. Notre Dame may have outshot Louisville 23-21, but one crucial factor in the game was that the Cardinals took seven of those shots on free positions from the eight-meter arc and scored on five of them. Conversely, the Irish were just one for four in its free position shooting.
The first half saw five ties and one lead change en route to a 6-6 deadlock at intermission. The teams alternated each of the first six goals. Fortunato scored off of the first of two Brie Custis assists in the game at 27:47 to open the scoring, but Louisville tied it. Heidi Annaheim scored the first of her two goals, assisted by Fortunato, at 22:33 to put the Irish up 2-1, but Louisville tied it. After that second Cardinal goal, Fortunato put the Irish back on up just 15 seconds later with a tremendous individual effort as she controlled the draw and ran to the goal to score unassisted. However, once again, the next goal went to Louisville, knotting the score at 3-3.
Notre Dame scored the next two goals to take its biggest lead of the day at 5-3. Halfpenny called a timeout with 10:30 to go in the half on offense and the ball in Kiera McMullan’s hands. Out of the break, McMullan ran around and through Louisville’s defense to put the Irish on top 4-3. Annaheim scored from Fortunato at 8:50 to give Notre Dame the two-goal cushion and promt Louisville to call a game-changing timeout. Th Cardinals won the draw and a Hannah Koloski goal 24 seconds after Annaheim’s would trigger a three-goal Louisville run that ultimately gave the Cardinals their first lead at 6-5.
Notre Dame tied the game in the first half’s waning moments. Buoyed by a turnover on their defensive end, the Irish rushed the ball up field and freshman Molly Cobb set up Fortunato with 15.5 seconds left before halftime for the game-tying goal.
The first two third of the second half left the Irish seeing red as Louisville scored three times over the half’s first 19:18 while Notre Dame couldn’t score. The run was finally snapped when Brie Custis passed out of a free position to Fortunato for a goal, making it 9-7 with 10:42 left to play. Less than a minute later, Louisville answered that goal with the fourth of Cortnee Daley’s four tallies at 9:47. Alex Dalton scored Notre Dame’s only free position goal of the day with 8:43 to go, making it a 10-8 game, but that would prove to be the contest’s final score.
“There was a massive lack of focus,” a disappointed Halfpenny said. “At this point in the season, effort isn’t going to get you through. We need effort and execution. This isn’t the first game where we’ve seen a lack of execution. We had too many lapses and it’s got to be fixed. We’ve got to turn this thing around because we have ACC’s against Virginia on Thursday and we don’t have time for it.”