ND Women’s Lacrosse
Irish withstand late push in home victory
Christina Kochanski | Sunday, February 23, 2014
The No. 15 Irish rebounded from their first loss last week with an 8-7 victory over No. 12 Stony Brook at the Loftus Sports Center on Saturday night.
The matchup came down to the last two minutes after Stony Brook (2-1) reeled off three straight goals to cut its deficit to 8-7. But Seawolves senior attacker Alyssa Cardillo’s tally with 1:41 remaining in the second half was as close as Stony Brook would get down the stretch.Freshman attacker Cortney Fortunato controlled the ensuing draw to seal the win for the Irish (2-1).
“We just needed to keep possession and make sure that we secured the ball and the win,” Fortunato said. “We didn’t turn it over until [there were] a couple seconds left, and then that wasn’t enough time for them to get down there.”
Fortunato scored her fourth goal of the evening nearly 10 minutes into the second half to lift Notre Dame to an 8-4 lead. The Seawolves’ defense held off the Irish attack for the rest of the half, with help from senior goalie Frankie Caridi. Caridi earned a shutout in the Seawolves’ previous matchup against Monmouth and held a 0.51 goals-against average entering Saturday’s game.
Irish coach Christine Halfpenny said Stony Brook plays a unique style of defense the Irish have never encountered. Saturday’s tilt was the first meeting between the Irish and the Seawolves.
“Their 2-3-2 zone was totally different than what anybody’s doing,” Halfpenny said. “I think it’s a huge key to their success so we had to prepare for that a couple of days before. … Not only did [our offense] prepare for it, but to watch their poise and their composure in it, all of the credit goes to them.”
Halfpenny also said Notre Dame’s offensive scout team was crucial in preparing for the Seawolves’ offense.
“Our scout offense got us so ready for what [junior midfielder Michelle Rubino] was going to do and how we should shut her down and what their crease game was going to do,” Halfpenny said.
The Irish led the Seawolves the entire game and entered halftime with a 6-2 lead. Fortunato opened up the scoring with two consecutive goals in the first seven minutes. Sophomore attacker Rachel Sexton, junior midfielder Caitlin Gargan and sophomore midfielder Stephanie Toy also scored before Fortunato rounded out the half with her third goal of the game.
Sexton extended Notre Dame’s lead 45 seconds into the second half when Fortunato stole the ball in the Seawolves’ defensive zone and passed it off to Sexton, who rifled the ball past Caridi.
The half also featured a crucial save with five minutes left in the game by Irish junior goalie Allie Murray. Stony Brook freshman midfielder Dorrien Van Dyke rushed Murray in a one-on-one situation, and Murray came up with the save to prevent the Seawolves from closing in on Notre Dame’s two-goal lead. Van Dyke led the Seawolves with three goals.
Halfpenny said the team’s performance during the gritty last few minutes of the game showed the players’ growth and strength.
“I saw some of the younger kids grow up,” Halfpenny said. “I saw how they would handle adversity and how they would respond to the game plan and be flexible.”
The Irish will take on No. 1 North Carolina on Thursday in their first road game of the season. The game will be televised on ESPN3, which creates its own challenges for the Irish, Halfpenny said.
Halfpenny said Saturday’s game, which had five timeouts, helped prepare Notre Dame for the stoppages that accompany a televised game.
“I think we’re prepped now for the ESPN3 game down in North Carolina, with all of the stops that we will see,” Halfpenny said.
The Irish and the Tar Heels will face off Thursday at 7 p.m. in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Contact Christina Kochanski at [email protected]