ND Women’s Lacrosse
Fortunato leads ND to win
Christina Kochanski | Sunday, April 13, 2014
In Friday’s ACC conference matchup that came down to the last minute, the No. 11 Irish triumphed 12-10 over No. 7 Duke at Arlotta Stadium.Duke junior midfield Taylor Trimble scored to pull the Blue Devils within a goal with 20 seconds left in the game, and Duke (8-6, 2-4 ACC) won the ensuing draw control, but Irish sophomore midfield Stephanie Toy came up with a ground ball to give Notre Dame (9-5, 2-4) control again, finding senior attack Kaitlyn Brosco who scored to put the game comfortably out of reach.
Irish coach Christine Halfpenny said she was not nervous when the Blue Devils climbed within one during the last two minutes of play.
“I didn’t have a single doubt in my mind that the defense would be able to finish the game out,” Halfpenny said. “I trust my defense and would take my defense over any other in the country.”
The Irish defense was backed by junior Allie Murray’s goalkeeping. Murray, who came into the game with a 0.444 save percentage, stopped nine of Duke’s 19 shots on goal. Halfpenny said Murray’s performance reflects her growth over the course of the season.
“It’s been exciting to see what [Murray] can do,” Halfpenny said. “She was tracking the ball really well, holding her line, working her angles and also being incredibly active when we needed her to.”
From the first Irish goal, scored by sophomore attack Kiera McMullan almost two minutes into the game, Notre Dame never surrendered its lead. The offense was highlighted by a career-high five goals from freshman midfield and attack Cortney Fortunato. Brosco scored her first four goals of the season and sophomore attack Rachel Sexton also contributed two tallies.
Halfpenny said the crucial momentum swing of the game occurred midway through the second half. The Blue Devils had gone into halftime losing by five goals and returned to the field hungry. Trimble scored two consecutive goals to narrow Notre Dame’s lead to three. Fortunato then responded with her fifth goal of the match, a game-changing play, Halfpenny said.
“You could see the shift in momentum when Cortney scored that goal from Brosco at the 14:47 mark,” Halfpenny said. “After that play, you had to hold the bench back.”
Duke’s junior attack Kerrin Maurer came into the game as her team’s leading scorer and notched a team-high five goals. In the Blue Devils’ numerous attempts to claw their way back into the game, Trimble scored three goals and sophomore attack Kelci Smesko and junior midfield Erin Tenneson scored one apiece.
Halfpenny said her team needs to fine-tune its offense and work on draw controls before Tuesday’s game at No. 17 Ohio State.
“Our offense has to take it one game at a time and continue to improve,” Halfpenny said. “We did lose the draw 15-8 and, at the end of the day, to come away with a win speaks a lot of credit to my team.”
The Irish travel to Ohio State on Tuesday to take on the Buckeyes at 6 p.m.