April 20, 2016
By Leigh Torbin
Rachel Sexton’s sublime Senior Day performance on Saturday for No. 6 Notre Dame resonated nationally as she was named the IWLCA’s National Player of the Week on offense along with Towson goalkeeper Angie Benson on defense.
The senior capped a Senior Day hat trick by scoring the game-winning goal in overtime, unassisted, as the Irish downed Duke 10-9 to ensure their first winning-record in ACC play. Sexton had three goals and an assist as the Irish leaned on their senior experience while erasing four deficits to defeat Duke.
Sexton also caused a crucial turnover in the game. With the Irish down 9-7 and under three minutes to play, Sexton forced the Blue Devils to cough up the ball, a possession which led to the goal that made it 9-8 with 2:15 left and helped spur the Irish on to victory.
The hat trick is Sexton’s eighth of the season and the Irish are a perfect 8-0 in those contests, including wins over then-No. 6 Princeton and then-No. 9 Virginia. The game-winning goal against Duke is her fourth game-winning strike of the spring, leading the ACC.
Sexton’s final goal was her career-high 38th tally of her senior season. She also eclipsed the 50-point plateau in the win with 51. A native of Sudbury, Mass., Sexton’s 111 career goals scored rank ninth in school history.
Sexton has been a part all spring in one of the best one-two offensive punches in Irish lore along side Cortney Fortunato’s 49 goals, 25 assists and 74 points. Sexton and Fortunato are the first Notre Dame teammates to record at least 50 points in the same season since 2009 when three hit that plateau.
Sexton is the second Notre Dame player to earn a national weekly honor in 2016. Barbara Sullivan was named Lacrosse Magazine’s National Player of the Week on Feb. 16 for her role in an Irish win over No. 15 Stanford. Sullivan tied a school record by causing seven turnovers against the Cardinal while also controlling six draws and gathering three ground balls in a 13-9 Notre Dame victory.
It is the second week in a row that a member of the Sexton family has claimed a weekly award. Sexton’s younger brother, John, a sophomore long-stick midfielder for the No. 1-ranked Notre Dame men’s lacrosse team, earned ACC Defensive Player of the Week accolades on April 11. John Sexton played a critical role in holding All-American Duke attacker Myles Jones to no goals and just one assist in an 8-6 victory for the Irish over the No. 12 Blue Devils.
Rachel Sexton and the Irish return to action on Saturday in a critical regional game against No. 15 Ohio State inside Ohio Stadium. First draw in Columbus is set for 3 p.m. One of the program’s oldest rivals, dating back to Notre Dame’s inaugural varsity season of 1997, the Irish are 13-8 all-time against the Buckeyes, including a victory in the first round of the 2015 NCAA Championship.
Leigh Torbin, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2013 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team while serving as the football publicity team’s top lieutenant. A native of Framingham, Massachusetts, Torbin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1998 with a bachelor’s degree in sports management. He has previously worked full-time on the athletic communications staffs at Vanderbilt, Florida, Connecticut and UCF.