March 29, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The No. 17 Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team look into eyes of a 7-1 deficit against No. 3 North Carolina on Saturday at Arlotta Stadium and responded with a fury, forging ahead to tie the game at 8-8 with just over five minutes to play before falling to the Tar Heels, 9-8.
Notre Dame (6-5, 1-3 ACC) outshot North Carolina (10-2, 3-1), 31-18, led 21-16 in ground balls, and turned the ball over just eight times as opposed to 18 for North Carolina, but the goaltending of Caylee Waters tipped the scales on the day as the Tar Heel stopped 13 shots, including nine in the first half.
Barbara Sullivan had a great day for the Irish on defense, causing five turnovers, controlling four draws, scooping up three ground balls and completing several clearances in transition. Cortney Fortunato and Casey Pearsall each scored twice for Notre Dame. Molly Hendrick, Marie McCool and Brittney Coppa each scored twice for North Carolina. Liz O’Sullivan made five saves for the Irish, three of them coming in a second half where Notre Dame outscored its foe from the Tar Heel State, 6-2.
The teams traded goals to open the game as Coppa inaugurated the scoring at the 24:21 mark followed shortly thereafter by Pearsall who struck at 22:43. North Carolina controlled the ensuing draw and, after Marie McCool scored just 24 seconds after Pearsall’s goal, the Tar Heels also controlled the game’s momentum as they ran out to a 7-1 lead on a Sydney Holman goal with 8:30 left in the first half.
Notre Dame head coach Christine Halfpenny called timeout after the Holman goal and changed the game. Alex Dalton scored on a free position at 6:21 and that triggered a run where seven of the next eight goals would come off of Irish sticks.
Fortunato found Pearsall 2:00 into the second half for a goal that made the score 7-3. The Irish chipped away further as Fortunato scored on a free position at 23:56. Stephanie Toy fed Brie Custis for a goal at 17:35, making the score 7-5.
North Carolina controlled the draw after Custis’ goal and, 33 seconds later, Kelly Devlin scores for the Tar Heels. Notre Dame, however, did not relent, scoring a goal 34 seconds later. Custis controlled the draw following North Carolina’s goal and pressed it up field. Waters saved a shot by Heidi Annaheim but could not control the rebound and Katherine Eilers sent it home, making it an 8-6 game.
Fortunato tallied on a free position at 14:29 and then Rachel Sexton converted on a free position attempt to bring Notre Dame all the way back to level at 8-8 with 5:08 remaining in the game.
Coppa scored for North Carolina, set up by Hendrick, with 3:55 to play in the game, putting the Tar Heels up, 9-8. The Irish had several chances to score over the final 3:55 of the game and North Carolina had chances to extend its lead but neither team would convert and North Carolina held on for the 9-8 win.
The Irish head back on the road this weekend for an unusual tandem of games and challenging ones too. Notre Dame will face No. 5 Virginia on Saturday before heading north to face No. 7 Syracuse on Tuesday night at the Carrier Dome.