Feb. 23, 2016

By Leigh Torbin

The No. 5 Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team has surged forth on the national radar screen. Along with the team’s overall success – starting the year at 3-0 with wins over three 2015 NCAA Championship participants – individual accolades have deservedly followed.

Three of Notre Dame’s finest, junior midfielder Alex Dalton, junior attack Cortney Fortunato and graduate student defender Barbara Sullivan, were all named to the 50-member watch list for the Tewaaraton Award on Tuesday night. Annually presented to the top men’s and women’s collegiate lacrosse players in the country, only Duke and Maryland can top Notre Dame’s three watch list members.

The Tewaaraton Award watch lists confirmed Notre Dame’s standing as one of the country’s elite lacrosse universities across the board. The No. 1 Irish men’s team had three players (Matt Kavanagh, Matt Landis and Sergio Perkovic) recognized tonight as well.

On a national level, only Notre Dame and Syracuse had at least three players named to each of the Tewaaraton Award’s watch lists. Notre Dame’s six recipients match Duke and Syracuse for the most nationally.

Reflecting the obstinate strength of the schedule that the Irish women are playing in 2016, of the 47 non-Irish players on the Tewaaraton watch list, Notre Dame will see 25 (53-percent) during the regular season alone.

Sullivan was one of five finalists for the 2015 Tewaaraton Award ââ’¬” the only defensive player to advance to the final stage. Sullivan has picked up in 2016 where she left off, earning national player of the week honors from Lacrosse Magazine after she tied a Notre Dame record by causing seven turnovers in a 13-9 Irish win over No. 15 Stanford on Feb. 13.

Through just three games, Sullivan already has 11 caused turnovers, 16 draw controls and seven ground balls on the year while leading an Irish defense that has held its three NCAA-caliber opponents to just 18 goals.

Fortunato, one of 25 nominees for the 2015 Tewaaraton Award and a returning first-team All-American, has been named the ACC’s Offensive Player of the Week twice through the first three weeks of the 2016 season. Tallying at least four goals in each of Notre Dame’s first three contests, Fortunato leads her team with 13 goals, six assists and 19 points on the young season. She is third on the Irish with seven caused turnovers despite playing as an attacker.

Dalton makes the list for the first time, building upon a 2015 season that saw her capture second-team All-America honors. One of Notre Dame’s top transitional players, she has helped the Irish convert 86-percent (49 of 57) of its clears this spring with her ability to ferry the ball through the neutral zone. Her seven draw controls rank second on Notre Dame behind only Sullivan. Dalton has also contributed six ground balls, three caused turnovers and three goals to Notre Dame’s 3-0 start. One of her three goals was the game-winning strike as the Irish downed No. 15 Stanford.

Names will be added to the watch list on March 17 and April 7 before being cut down to 25 nominees on April 28 with the five finalists being announced on May 12 and the recipient on June 2.

Notre Dame gets back to action this weekend with a pair of non-conference games but both against teams that received votes in this week’s Lacrosse Magazine Top 20 poll. Notre Dame faces Colorado at 7 p.m. on Friday and California at noon on Sunday, both inside the Loftus Sports Center.


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.