May 11, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – On the heels of a school-record fourth consecutive NCAA tournament appearance, the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team landed five of its student-athletes on the IWLCA’s west/Midwest all-region team on Monday afternoon. Four of the five (Alex Dalton, Cortney Fortunato, Casey Pearsall and Barbara Sullivan) made the first team while Stephanie Peragallo was named to the second team.
With these selections, all five are eligible for All-America consideration by the sport’s coaches association.
The four first-team selections match the 2009 Irish for the most in school history. The five total selections stand one shy of the school-record six established in 2006. On a national scope in 2015, only No. 1 Maryland had more first-team all-region picks with five selections to the all-south first team. Penn State, Syracuse and Loyola (Md.) all matched Notre Dame’s four first team all-region selections this year.
It is Sullivan’s third first-team selection, joining the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Fortunato was also named to the first team in 2014. Dalton claimed second-team accolades in 2014 while Peragallo was a second-team pick in 2013. This is Pearsall’s first all-region honor.
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.
Peragallo was a regular force in an Irish defensive unit that limited 10 opponents to single digits this year, the school’s most such defensive outings since 2006. Four times this season, Notre Dame held a team that earned a top-eight seed for the NCAA tournament to single digits and Peragallo proved instrumental in that effort. She finished the year with 25 caused turnovers and 23 ground balls. Perhaps her finest hour of the season came on April 7 at the Carrier Dome as she caused five turnovers and collected three ground balls to help the Irish upset No. 7 Syracuse, 12-11, in overtime.
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.