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ND Women’s Lacrosse

Notre Dame suffers first loss in double overtime against Louisville

| Wednesday, March 16, 2016

No. 5 Notre Dame suffered its first loss of the season over the break but was able to bounce back with three straight wins.

The Irish (8-1, 2-1 ACC) opened the break ranked fourth in the nation and traveled to No. 6 Louisville. The Irish struck first with two early goals. Although the Cardinals (7-1, 2-1) quickly tied up the score, Notre Dame again looked to have the edge, taking a 5-2 lead halfway through the first half.

Louisville closed that gap as the game went on, however, before taking the lead for the first time when junior attack Hannah Koloski scored her fourth goal of the game with just over three minutes remaining. The Irish sent the game into overtime following a goal by senior attack Rachel Sexton with just over a minute left in the game.

However, after a scoreless first overtime period, it was the Cardinals who scored the winning goal just nine seconds into the second overtime session, as senior midfielder Kaylin Morissette, who dominated the Irish on the draw by notching up nine draw controls, assisted senior midfielder Kelli Gerding to end the game.

Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny said she believes her team learned from their first defeat of the season.

“Credit to the team, I think we learned a lot from the loss,” Halfpenny said. “We didn’t really belabor it at all. We were able to look at it and say that we played a really good team in Louisville, we battled, and we found a way to give ourselves extra time, and at the end of the day, this is lacrosse, and Louisville made the final play of the game and we just missed.

“So we really turned around quickly to getting back to doing what we do. And quite honestly, I think we can say we were grateful for that Louisville game. Maybe not for the loss, but for getting our offense moving again. It got us moving a little bit instead of falling into a trap against a sagged pressure defense that continues to switch off of our players. We recognized that we didn’t have to adjust what we were doing, we just had to keep doing what we’re doing.”

Junior attack Cortney Fortunato surveys the field on offense during Notre Dame’s 21-2 win over California on Feb. 28 at Loftus Sports Center.Chris Collins | The Observer

Junior attack Cortney Fortunato surveys the field on offense during Notre Dame’s 21-2 win over California on Feb. 28 at Loftus Sports Center.

The Irish followed the defeat with two games in two days in Virginia. On March 8, the Irish were led by junior attack Grace Muller, as her four goals off the bench pushed the Irish to a 19-10 victory over Virginia Tech. The Irish pulled away in the second half, turning a 7-5 lead at the break into a convincing victory.

Halfpenny’s squad had no difficulty playing Liberty the very next day, as the Irish tied a school record for goals scored in a single game with a commanding 25-2 victory that also marked the 200th win in the history of the program. Graduate student defender Barbara Sullivan had a strong performance, causing five turnovers to break the Notre Dame career record of 122. Halfpenny said Sullivan’s ability to generate turnovers in a game where Notre Dame controlled possession was a testament to her ability.

“We controlled the ball a lot, but when Liberty tried to get on that break, she had five caused turnovers,” Halfpenny said. “And there were some [one-on-one] chances that she took. I think it’s just Barbara, her feeling confident enough with the group behind her, the offense controlling the ball and the depth that we play with that allows her to play with this free style and get all these caused turnovers.”

Following the road trip to Virginia, the Irish returned home Sunday to face No. 7 Princeton. The Irish built up a 6-3 lead, but the Tigers began to fight their way back into the game with two quick goals with just over seven minutes left in the half. However, two Irish goals before halftime and four afterwards set the teams apart. Although Princeton would close back in, the Notre Dame was still able to hold on for the win, 16-11.

Halfpenny said her team’s run on either side of halftime decided the game.

“Winning by a total of five, that 6-0 run was critical,” Halfpenny said. “Again, that came down to some great draw work from Barbara and [junior midfielder] Casey Pearsall. That combo, one-two punch is huge. I’m really proud of their efforts, just battling for those ground balls.”

Sullivan followed her performance against Liberty by tying a school record, which she had tied earlier in the season against Stanford, with seven caused turnovers. Sullivan said the unit around her helps her play a more aggressive style of defense.

“I think it’s credit to our entire defensive unit,” Sullivan said. “They let me take some of those risks that I wouldn’t be able to take if I didn’t know that every single defender behind me would have my back if I missed. So that confidence and the belief in what’s behind me leads me to be able to go for those checks.”

Notre Dame will next be in action Saturday at 2 p.m., when Virginia comes to Arlotta Stadium. 

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About Daniel O'Boyle

Daniel O'Boyle is a senior sports writer living in Alumni Hall, majoring in Political Science. He is currently on the Notre Dame Women's Basketball, Men's Tennis and Women's Soccer beats. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, Daniel spends most of his free time attempting to keep up with second-flight English soccer and his beloved Reading FC. He believes Lonzo Ball is the greatest basketball player of all time.

Contact Daniel