Aug. 2, 2015
EDINBURGH, Scotland – Notre Dame freshman Nikki Ortega had what must have been a bittersweet Saturday in Scotland as she personally earned a spot on the all-world team but she, future Notre Dame teammates Samantha Giacolone and Hannah Proctor, and Team USA were upset by Canada, 9-8, in the gold medal game of the World Under-19 Championships.
Ortega follows in the footsteps of Irish teammate Cortney Fortunato who earned a spot on the all-world team at the 2011 U-19 world championships in Germany before beginning her All-American Notre Dame playing career. Team USA won the gold in 2011 and has never missed the quadrennial event’s final, claiming four golds and two silvers.
Notre Dame boasts the most incoming freshmen of any school with its three Team, USA members as Giacolone, Ortega and Proctor will join other freshmen and a star-studded Irish team which returns 11 of 12 regular starters, including four All-Americans. Hopes will be high for the 2016 Irish as they aim for both their school-record fifth consecutive NCAA Championship berth, all under fifth-year head coach Christine Halfpenny, but also a deep run into the national field come May.
Ortega started seven of the Team USA’s eight games on attack and scored 19 goals with 10 assists for 29 points, an average of 4.14 per game in those starts. Ortega had at least a hat trick in four of her seven starts and was named the Player of the Match after her six-goal, two-assist showing on July 25 against Australia. She scored the game-winning goal in three of her seven games started, including Team USA’s 15-9 win in pool play over eventual tournament champion Canada.
Proctor started seven of the eight games on defense, missing just the July 24 matchup with Wales. She also chipped in on offense, scoring a pair of goals in her country’s July 26 victory over Israel.
Giacolone split time in the Team USA net with Mallory Weisse who will be a freshman at Northwestern in the fall, helping propagate the best women’s lacrosse rivalry in the Midwest. Giacolone started five of the team’s eight games, including Saturday’s gold medal game, with Weisse starting the other three and the players regularly replacing each other at halftime. The tandem yielded just 33 goals in eight games, an average of 4.13 goals against per contest.