ND Women’s Lacrosse
Irish drop season finale at home against Louisville
Renee Griffin | Monday, April 20, 2015
No. 11 Notre Dame was unable to pull out a senior-day win at Arlotta Stadium on Sunday, falling to No. 14 Louisville 10-8 to close out its regular season.
The loss was the second in a row for the Irish (9-7, 3-4 ACC), reversing the momentum they had before Thursday’s loss to No. 7 Northwestern. Prior to that defeat, Notre Dame had won six of its last seven games.
Louisville (10-6, 2-5 ACC) and Notre Dame were tied 6-6 at halftime and were even in shots, ground balls and turnovers going into the second.
The Irish struggled out of the break, though, as Louisville scored three goals and Notre Dame was held scoreless until there was 10:42 left in the game when sophomore attack Cortney Fortunato recorded her fourth goal.
Notre Dame actually outshot Louisville 11-9 in the second half, but repeatedly failed to find the back of the net.
“In the second half, it was just awful shooting,” Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny said. “If we’re going to be honest, at this point in the season, effort’s not going to get you through. We need execution.
“This isn’t the first game that we’ve seen a lack of execution. We just seem to have too many lapses, and it’s gotta be fixed. It started against Michigan, and we saw it again on Thursday night, and we saw it again [on Sunday].”
Free-position shots and fouls inside the 8-meter were a major factor in Notre Dame’s comparative inaccuracy. The Cardinals went 5-of-7 from the arc while the Irish managed to go just 1-of-4.
“We gave Louisville way too many second-chance opportunities and we put them on the line, something we haven’t done all year,” Halfpenny said.
Halfpenny said the absence of sophomore midfielder Casey Pearsall, who injured her ankle against Northwestern, was a blow to the Irish offense, as was the team’s lack of concentration.
“I think that there was a massive lack of focus today,” Halfpenny said. “Obviously we were without the efforts of Casey Pearsall, and I think that has to be mentioned. That’d be the elephant in the room if we didn’t talk about that. I think that she’s probably potentially good for a two-point swing, if not more, with what she does as a strong midfielder for our program.”
Halfpenny also attributed the team’s struggles to inconsistencies in production. Fortunato had four goals and two assists, but no other player exceeded two points.
“Cortney had six points, so we’re really happy with Cortney, but everyone around her has to amp up their contribution,” Halfpenny said. “[Junior attack] Rachel Sexton had a really off night, and you can’t have that. [Junior midfielder Stephanie] Toy didn’t have a point. You can’t have that. Everybody has to contribute. We’ve been built off of multiple scoring opportunities and doing our jobs, and we didn’t do that [on Sunday].”
The Irish will have to improve their focus and on-field cooperation if they hope to succeed in the postseason, Halfpenny said.
“I think we’re lacking passion. It’s just that simple,” Halfpenny said. “It’s the end of the season, so it’s time to kind of suck it up and move forward, and I think that this is where we have to continue to mature as a team if we want to get what we want, which is to be one of the best teams in the country.
“When you’re trying to do that, you have to be 100 percent focused with your effort, your passion and your execution together. It is a community effort, and unfortunately there were just too many people who seemed to be doing it alone [Sunday].”
Notre Dame’s downturn comes at an inopportune moment, as the game against Louisville was the last of the regular season; the ACC tournament begins Thursday, when the fifth-seeded Irish will take on fourth-seeded Virginia in Charlottesville, Virginia, at 1 p.m.