May 9, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. –
Cortney Fortunato (six points), Kaitlyn Brosco (five points) and Rachel Sexton (four goals) all scored at least a hat trick as the No. 8-seed Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team cruised to an 18-4 win over High Point in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Lacrosse Championship on Friday night at Arlotta Stadium.
With the win, Notre Dame (10-8) will face ACC rival Duke (10-7) in a second round game on Sunday at noon at Arlotta Stadium. Duke defeated Stanford (14-5), 13-8, in Friday night’s other first round contest at Notre Dame. The game will come one month to the day that the Fighting Irish beat the Blue Devils, 12-10, on April 11 on the same field.
The Irish remain perfect all-time in postseason play on their home field at 5-0. The 18 goals are the second-most the team has ever scored in NCAA Tournament play, eclipsed only by a 19-13 win over Vanderbilt on May 10, 2009. It was by far the largest margin of NCAA Tournament victory ever for the Irish as the 14 goals easily surpassed the eight-goal margin in a 16-8 win over Cornell on May 14, 2006. Fortunato’s six points tonight are the most in the NCAAs for a Notre Dame player since Jillian Byers had five goals and an assist in a 16-10 loss at North Carolina in the 2009 quarterfinals.
“We’ve been dying to play a game the last two weeks because the way we ended at BC (in the ACC quarterfinals) wasn’t the way we wanted to end it,” Notre Dame head coach Christine Halfpenny said. “We did a great job of owning the start of the game and continuing to push. It was exactly what we wanted. I’m thrilled. The fast break was there. The feeding game was there. The (one-on-one) game was there, and credit to our defense. They got the ball back in our hands a ton (causing 17 of High Point’s 26 turnovers).”
Against the Panthers (15-5), Notre Dame wasted little time taking control of the contest. The Irish scored each of the game’s first seven goals, including tallies on each of the team’s first three shots. Casey Pearsall grabbed the game’s opening draw and it led to an unassisted goal by Brosco at 29:11. Just under a minute later, Sexton converted a Fortunato pass into a goal at 28:15. Brosco scored again, this time on a free position shot, at 26:51 and momentum was all on the Irish side. Kiera McMullan would score twice, Sexton would add her second and Fortunato her first of three goals on the night in the game-opening 7-0 run. High Point scored two of the next three goals, coming off of the sticks of Kendyl Gardner and Sara Kuhlman, to make the score 7-2 at 7:25.
Notre Dame scored four times in the first half’s final 4:37 to take a 12-2 lead into the locker rooms at halftime. Two of goals were by Sexton, giving her a career-high-tying four in the game’s opening 29:43 alone. The Irish also scored the first four goals of the second half to make it an 8-0 run in all and hold a 16-2 advantage. Fortunato scored twice in this string as a part of her three-goal, three-assist, six-point night. It was the freshman phenom’s ninth hat trick of the year. The Irish are now 8-1 when Fortunato collects a hat trick.
The two teams scored twice each over the game’s final 16:18 to account for the 18-4 final score. Stephanie Toy and Shauna Pugliese picked up the late goals for Notre Dame while Kuhlman got her second for the Panthers and Alec Perry scored as well.
Liz O’Sullivan got the win in net for Notre Dame, playing the first 51:51 and making four saves while allowing four goals. Allie Murray played the last 8:09 and made two saves without allowing a score. Julie Burns started in net for High Point and went 25:23 while Hayley Peets played the remaining 34:37. Both netminders allowed nine goals and made five saves.
Notre Dame enjoyed a 34-15 edge in shots on the night and a 25-18 ground ball advantage. High Point won the battles in the center circle, winning 15 draws to Notre Dame’s nine. The Panthers were hindered by 26 turnovers, however while Notre Dame committed just 15.