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ND Women’s Lacrosse

Seniors lead Notre Dame to victory over Virginia Tech on Senior Day

| Wednesday, April 19, 2017

No. 12 Notre Dame’s senior class, among the most successful in school history, capped off its career by carrying the Irish to a victory over No. 19 Virginia Tech on Senior Day, scoring 10 of the team’s goals in a 13-9 victory.

The victory did not come easily, however, as the Irish (11-5, 4-2 ACC) trailed for large parts of the game. Notre Dame scored first through senior forward Cortney Fortunato but found itself behind 3-1 after just under 15 minutes of play and 4-2 with only three minutes left in the first half. Sophomore attack Samantha Lynch scored to bring the teams within one goal, before goals from senior attack Heidi Annaheim and Fortunato gave the Irish a 5-4 lead at the half.

Irish senior attack Cortney Fortunato drives toward the goal during Notre Dame’s 16-13 win over Ohio State on March 7 at Arlotta Stadium. Fortunato scored three goals and had one assist during Notre Dame’s 13-9 Senior Day win over Virginia Tech on Saturday.Kathleen Donahue | The Observer
Irish senior attack Cortney Fortunato drives toward the goal during Notre Dame’s 16-13 win over Ohio State on March 7 at Arlotta Stadium. Fortunato scored three goals and had one assist during Notre Dame’s 13-9 Senior Day win over Virginia Tech on Saturday.

However, the Hokies (11-6, 2-4) took the lead back in just over a minute of second-half play, and although senior midfielder Casey Pearsall tied the score, the Irish trailed again entering the final 15 minutes of the game thanks to a goal from Virginia Tech sophomore attack Zan Biedenharn. Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny said the Hokies are a strong opponent, however, and new that the game was unlikely to be easy.

“The ACC’s the best conference in the country and Virginia Tech’s having a great year,” Halfpenny said. “They’ve only have one game where they’ve got blown out and that too was a close game in the first half. We respect Virginia Tech a lot, and we just had to get comfortable playing against their zone. They have a new coach and a new brand of playing the game and a new system, so we just had to settle into the game. I think that realistically, had we finished a handful of those fast breaks that we did get and created one-on-none opportunities, I think the game would have been a little bit different. I think we left a lot out there in the first half. Off the top of my head I can think of four breakaways that we just missed and that right there is a difference maker.

“But all credit to Virginia Tech, they’re much improved and they battled really hard. I was really pleased though with my group for making small adjustments when they needed to and putting it away when it mattered in the second half.”

Goals from Fortunato, senior attack Grace Muller and Lynch gave the Irish their first two-goal lead of the game, and although Virginia Tech’s junior attack Tristan McGinley clawed a goal back for the Hokies, the Irish added another four goals in the game’s final eight minutes to win the game 13-9.

In total, seniors scored 10 goals for the Irish and earned five assists. Fortunato and Muller scored three goals each, while Pearsall scored a goal while also adding three assists, four ground balls, three draw controls and four caused turnovers. Halfpenny said she was especially pleased with the performances of her graduating class in their final home regular season game for Notre Dame.

“I think they were outstanding,” she said. “That was one of the first things I said in the locker room. I think when you look at the stat sheet, the senior class really filled it up, especially in scoring and in the draw controls. I thought Cortney really did a great job controlling our attack, Heidi Annaheim and Grace Muller were outstanding, Grace had another hat-trick, Heidi got three points, [senior midfielder] Alex Dalton and Casey Pearsall were just superb in the midfield, Casey had an outstanding, All-American statline, Alex was using her speed to push the break. And then down on defense you have [senior midfielder] Emma-Claire [Fontenot] and [senior defender] Katherine Eilers doing what they do best — gobbling up ground balls. I thought they all played with great will and great determination.

“When Virginia Tech started to respond and got the ball into the back of the net a couple of times to start the second half, I thought it was our seniors who responded and made the necessary adjustments to focus on what we were doing as a team and executing. It was really, really special to see them lead the way.”

The Irish will play their final game of the regular season Saturday, when they meet No. 15 Boston College at Newton Campus Lacrosse & Soccer Field in Newton, Massachusetts. Opening draw will be at noon.

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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.

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