ND Women’s Lacrosse
Fortunato’s eight goals push Notre Dame to easy win over Kennesaw State
Elizabeth Greason | Friday, April 7, 2017
No. 12 Notre Dame found its groove once again as it took down one of the country’s top offenses in Kennesaw State, 24-4, in a midday road matchup Thursday.
Freshman midfielder Savannah Buchanan started the offensive charge for the Irish, scoring the first goal of the game just over three minutes after first draw. At first, the Irish (10-5, 3-2 ACC) and the Owls (5-5, 1-2 ASUN) kept the game tight, trading goals to put the game at 2-2 just under eight minutes into the game.
However, a goal from Notre Dame senior attack Grace Muller spurred a 5-0 run — which was ended by Owls freshman midfielder Izzy Palermo, who was able to put one in the back of the net. The Irish did not allow this slip to slow them, as senior attack Cortney Fortunato scored to start the next Irish run — as they scored 16 unanswered goals, shutting down any of Kennesaw State’s hopes for a victory.
Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny cited her team’s organization on the field and its focus on working together as reasons for Notre Dame’s offensive success against the Owls.
“I think we were really efficient in what we did in pushing the fast break, we had some really, really nice fast goals, but also being really organized in our attacking efforts as a unit,” Halfpenny said. “We did a really good job running our motion and setting up clear lanes for each other to attack in one-vs-ones, and moving really well off ball to open up our feeding game as well. So it was just a really great collective effort to attack the defense that we saw today.”
In the end, nine different Irish players picked up goals in the victory. Fortunato ended the day with eight goals and three assists, tying the Notre Dame record with most goals in a half with six and increasing her lead as the team’s top scorer. Three other Irish players — sophomore midfielder Samantha Lynch, senior midfielder Casey Pearsall and Muller — each finished with hat tricks, and freshman midfielder Cassie Ford scored her first career goal.
“All year we’ve had our scoring quite spread out, so it was good to see it continue on,” Halfpenny said on the scoring distribution. “… especially on a day where the one-vs-one game we open up for each other, but to see helpers we were able to have out of that one-vs- one driving game was really great. So, it’s nice to see that continue on and that scoring spread from our middies to our attack.”
The Owls entered the game as one of the top offensive squads in the country, averaged 37.78 shots per game, the most in the nation. However, Notre Dame was able to hold Kennesaw State to just 14 shots Thursday. Sophomore goalkeeper Samantha Giacolone allowed three goals and made two saves — which was uncharacteristically low for the Manorville, New York, native who was coming off a career-high 18 saves in Notre Dame’s loss to No. 2 North Carolina on Sunday — and left the game after 47 minutes once the Irish had collected a comfortable lead, giving way to freshman goalie Grace Steffens. Steffens picked up four saves. Halfpenny said her defense played a solid game, but noted the draw control — a battle Notre Dame won 17-12 — was what pushed the Irish over the edge defensively.
“We just really were disciplined in our defense’s approach, as we have been in the last few outings,” Halfpenny said. “I think that we obviously helped ourselves by winning the draw battle so we could limit the possessions right out of the gate, but then, as a unit, we did a really nice job of handling on one-vs-one and having help defense when it was necessary and allowing our one-vs-ones to take care of themselves instead of pushing too much.”
The Irish will return home to ACC play when they take on No. 15 Virginia Tech in their final regular season home game of 2017. They will host the Hokies (11-4, 2-2 ACC) at Arlotta Stadium on April 15 at noon.