ND Women’s Lacrosse
Sullivan returns from injury to lead team in senior season
Renee Griffin | Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Team captain Barbara Sullivan entered her junior year in 2014 with high expectations, coming off a sophomore season in which she was the youngest player in school history to be named a first-team All-American. However, she only played in the first six games, as back injuries forced her to watch and lead from the sideline.
Now, the senior defender is back on the field and ready to make a mark in her final year at Notre Dame.
“This season is definitely different for me,” Sullivan said. “I only played six games last year, so the rest of the year I sat on the sidelines and watched. I learned a lot, but [an injury] taking away something that you love so much makes you really value and appreciate the opportunity that you have. I wasn’t able to do it the way I wanted to last year because of my injury. Anyone coming in as a senior wants to make the last season the best, so when you add in how I was injured last year, there’s a huge motivation that I haven’t had before.”
Sullivan has been a starter for the No. 12 Irish (2-0) since her freshman year, serving as an anchor on defense and a force at center with 121 draw controls and 69 caused turnovers in 41 games.
After being named to the preseason all-ACC team this year, she has already recorded a career-high six turnovers in Sunday’s 17-5 win over Detroit, plus six draw controls.
“I try not to focus on stats while I’m playing,” Sullivan said. “Honestly, I’m just trying to get back to where I was after being injured for so long, and I can’t do anything without my teammates. I wouldn’t be able to get turnovers or anything without my teammates having my back like they do.”
Sullivan emphasized the significant role team chemistry plays in the Notre Dame’s success, and in her own success.
“Our number one goal is to win a national championship,” Sullivan said. “Our team is one of the closest teams I’ve ever been a part of. I and my fellow seniors want to make it special by winning a championship, and we know we’re good enough to do it.”
In 2014, the Irish were seeded No. 8 in the NCAA tournament and fell to Duke in the second round. All of Notre Dame’s starters this year were on that team, and Sullivan believes the experience will also be key to winning.
“Our entire starting lineup has all had at least a year together,” Sullivan said. “Our defense specifically – [senior defender] Leah Gallagher, [junior defender] Steff Peragallo and I – have all been playing together for years. We all know our roles. Whoever else is back there and our [sophomore] goalie Liz [O’Sullivan], we all have our specific roles and we can communicate with each other well, and that makes it so much easier.”
Sullivan recognized the value of new incoming players as well, and said overall team camaraderie is at a high, which bodes well for their ability to play together and win together.
“Having new blood is amazing as well but having people that you’ve played with before is definitely more of a comfortable feeling,” Sullivan said. “I guess this year three-fourths of the team is the same, but that extra fourth changes things up. I think a lot of people are being themselves. I think we’re appreciating each other and bringing out each other’s strengths. We just love being around each other, and we love playing lacrosse.”
Sullivan and the Irish will travel to California for a game Friday to take on their first ranked opponent of the season, No. 19 Stanford.