Dec. 15, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. –
By Leigh Torbin
Returning 11 of 12 starters, including four All-Americans, the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team hopes to stand among the top teams in the nation when the 2016 NCAA Championship rolls around in May. The Irish will have plenty of expertise at facing the best once that date arrives as head coach Christine Halfpenny unveiled a rigorous schedule on Tuesday which includes 11 ranked teams among its 17 dates.
“The team is really excited to attack this year’s national schedule, competing against teams from every NCAA region,” Halfpenny said. “The non-conference slate is loaded with 2015 NCAA tournament teams that we have great respect for. The non-conference schedule coupled with playing within the ACC, considered the best league in the country, will push us to grow throughout the season and work towards our goal of playing for an NCAA championship in May. We can’t wait to get started!”
The Atlantic Coast Conference features seven of its eight teams ranked in the Inside Lacrosse preseason top 16, including the 11thÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢’Â¬”ranked Irish who reached the league’s semifinals in 2015. Notre Dame will look to take that proverbial “next step” and reach the ACC championship game when Virginia Tech hosts the league’s showcase, April 28-May 1.
Notre Dame’s home schedule features four top 10 teams in No. 3 Syracuse (March 26), No. 4 Duke (April 16), No. 9 Virginia (March 19) and No. 10 Boston College (Feb. 21) along with a visit by No. 13 Princeton (March 13). Some of the more challenging road trips include ventures to No. 2 North Carolina (April 3), No. 5 Northwestern (April 10) and No. 17 Ohio State (April 23).
Keeping with the national nature of the University, Notre Dame will face four teams from the western region in 2016 with visits to Arlotta Stadium by No. 15 Stanford (Feb. 13), Colorado (Feb. 26), California (Feb. 28) and No. 20 USC (April 18) and also travel to Florida to face Jacksonville in its season opener on Feb. 6.
Notre Dame reached the NCAAs for a school-record fourth consecutive year in 2015, advancing to the second round. The Irish saw a school-record nine players net at least 20 points in 2015, eight of which return in 2016. The 11 returning starters for the Irish include Tewaaraton Award finalist and first-team All-American Barbara Sullivan, along with her fellow All-Americans Cortney Fortunato (first-team), Alex Dalton (second-team) and Casey Pearsall (third-team).
The Irish bolstered this sturdy lineup by signing the third-best recruiting class in the nation last spring ÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢’Â¬” one which included three members of the United States’ Under-19 national team.
Information on 2016 men’s and women’s lacrosse season ticket packages will be available in January at UND.com/BuyTickets or by calling (574) 631-7356.
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 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.