March 11, 2014
RICHMOND, Va. – Rachel Sexton had a career-high five points and Cortney Fortunato had her sixth hat trick in eight games as the No. 7/6 Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team (6-2) picked up a 13-6 win on the road Tuesday afternoon at Richmond (3-3).
Sexton’s big day included three goals and a pair of assists. The reigning Brine National Player of the Week, Fortunato added an assist along with her three goals for a four-point day. Goalkeeper Allie Murray, named today as the ACC Defensive Player of the Week, made 12 saves, backstopping an Irish defense that held its opponents to a single digit goal total for the sixth time on the season.
Notre Dame moved the ball well and had an assist on eight of its 11 goals, the second-most assists for the Irish this year behind just the 11 collected in a 25-1 rout of Cincinnati. In all, nine different Irish players factored into the scoring of the team’s 13 goals and five Notre Dame players had both a goal and an assist. Notre Dame enjoyed a 15-6 edge in draw controls with freshman Casey Pearsall collecting a career-high five to top the Irish.
“I’m really proud of my team today,” head coach Christine Halfpenny said afterwards. “They have been grinding for the last two weeks with five games in 13 days and fought hard once again to earn their win.”
Halfpenny was also pleased with her team’s showing on what was a warm day with game time temperatures in the upper 70, specifically pointing to the possession gained through that 15-6 edge in draw controls.
“Our defense was disciplined and strong all day limiting the options for the Spiders’ offense,” she said. “Our offense showed poise and took advantage of our speed to make a number of two-point plays. It’s nice to see continued growth even in this busy stretch of multiple games per week.”
Richmond scored first but two quick goals shortly thereafter put the Irish on top for good. Fortunato controlled the draw after the Spiders’ strike and, less than a minute later, fired home her 21st-goal of the year off of a feed from Pearsall. Pearsall controlled the draw after Fortunato’s goal and, 17 seconds later, Caitlin Gargan scored for the Irish with Kiera McMullan assisting. Notre Dame’s lead grew to 3-1 at the 20:26 mark when Michele Phillips scored her second goal of the year off of a Fortunato assist.
After Richmond cut the score to 3-2, Notre Dame rattled off each of the game’s next four goals to take a 7-2 edge. Stephanie Toy scored from Sexton at 16:40 and then Sexton herself scored at 14:41 to give the Irish a 5-2 cushion. Heidi Annaheim scored from Phillips at 10:49. McMullan controlled the ensuing draw and, 33 seconds later, Fortunato put Notre Dame on top 7-2 with a little help from Sexton.
Sexton would score from Gargan and McMullan would tally, unassisted, before halftime as the Irish held a 9-4 lead at intermission.
The Spiders would prove stubborn as Richmond scored two of the second half’s first three goals, sandwiched around a Stephanie Toy goal, making the score 10-6, but Notre Dame scored each of the game’s final three goals to ensure the victory. Sexton, Hannah Hartman (from Phillips) and Fortunato scored, in order, to account for the 13-6 final. The final Fortunato strike was her 23rd of the year. She had entered the day leading all freshmen nationally with 20.
The Fighting Irish will be back in action on Saturday at 12:00 p.m. when they return to ACC action, facing No. 2 Maryland in College Park.