June 1, 2016
By Leigh Torbin
Recognition for the great work of Notre Dame defender Barbara Sullivan continues to filter in after the three-year team captain helped lead the Irish back to the NCAA quarterfinals for the first time since 2009. The Notre Dame graduate student has been named as one of four finalists for the Honda Sport Award for lacrosse.
The Honda Sport Award has been presented annually by the Collegiate Women Sports Awards (CSWA) for the past 40 years to the top women athletes in 12 NCAA- sanctioned sports and signifies “the best of the best in collegiate athletics”. The winner of the sport award becomes a finalist for the Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year and the prestigious 2016 Honda Cup.
Sullivan’s continued success on defense has led her to become the first female player (and just the third overall) to be a two-time Tewaaraton finalist while playing on defense. The three-time first-team All-American is just the second player ever named the ACC’s Defensive Player of the Year twice.
Sullivan led the ACC in 2016 in caused turnovers with 55. That sum is just one of eight Notre Dame records she holds including the single-game, single-season and career benchmarks for both caused turnovers and draw controls. In twice this spring tying the school single-game caused turnovers record of seven, she did not do so by picking on weaker foes, causing seven turnovers against both Stanford and Princeton — teams selected for the NCAA Championship. Sullivan’s 159 career caused turnovers rank 14th in NCAA history.
Sullivan sat at the top of an Irish defense that by far led the nation in caused turnovers in 2016 as a team. Notre Dame’s 294 caused turnovers in 2016 are the fifth-most in NCAA history and the most nationally since North Carolina caused 295 in 2002. The 2016 Irish held a school-record eight teams to five goals or less — including NCAA Championship participants USC, Northwestern, Virginia and Boston College.
The 2016 season was Sullivan’s third serving as a team captain, making her just the ninth student-athlete in Notre Dame’s athletic history to serve as a team captain for three years.
She is joined as a finalist for the Honda Award by Taylor Cummings and Alice Mercer of Maryland along with Kayla Treanor of Syracuse.
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.