Feb. 10, 2017
By Megan Golden
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- The No. 8 University of Notre Dame (1-1) bounced back with a 18-2 victory over Liberty (0-1) on Friday at Loftus Sports Center.
Notre Dame improved to 2-0 all-time against the Lady Flames and have outscored Liberty by a combined 35-7.
The Irish have a quick turnaround as they look to add another win against Detroit Mercy on Saturday. The team will try to win consecutive games on back-to-back days for the second year in a row--each time including a victory against Liberty.
How It Happened
For the second straight game, Notre Dame scored first, courtesy of a goal from Grace Muller. Fewer than four minutes later, Liberty tied the game, 1-1, its last offense for most of the game.
Notre Dame was sparked by Cortney Fortunato, who led a 15-0 run by the Irish. Notre Dame led, 10-1, at halftime and continued the run well into the second half. The Irish held the Lady Flames scoreless for a total of 43:24.
Fortunato scored seven goals, including three consecutive goals to open the second half. Nikki Ortega added six points on one goal and five assists.
Liberty, which was limited to just three shots on goal, added its final goal at the 8:20 mark of the second half.
Player of the Game
Fortunato recorded seven points on seven goals, falling just one goal shy of her career-high eight. In just two games this season, Fortunato has 10 points on 10 goals.
"We played really well today and improved upon our last game," Fortunato said. "Getting the ball down the field and being better on our clear helped us on offense. Getting the opportunity to have the ball more and shoot [helped us]."
Halfpenny said Fortunato credited her teammate Nikki Ortega's assists for her big day.
"I thought she did such a great job leading our offense. Everything she did was sharp today," Halfpenny said. "She was a great commander of the unit down there. She was a catalyst to the fast break at times. She worked really well with her teammates. She did a really good job of commanding the team and asserting her presence today."
Stat of the Game
Notre Dame won the draw control battle, 15-6, with Sydney Flynn recording four draw controls and Casey Pearsall and Grace Muller each totaling three.
"I told the girls after the game that all the work they've been doing and putting in outside of what we do in practice is clearly paying off," Halfpenny said. "In the second half, it was really nice to see us go into almost a `make-it, take-it' mode. That's really nice to see the depth and the versatility we have there."
The team's focus on possession in practice also was evident in its clears as it was successful on 11 of 12 attempts.
Coming Up Next
Notre Dame returns to action at 3 p.m. on Saturday, when it hosts Detroit at Loftus Sports Center. Admission to all Irish regular-season home games is free to all fans.
Megan Golden, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since August of 2016. In her role, she coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women's lacrosse and cross country/track and field programs. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Golden is a 2014 graduate of Saint Mary's College and former Irish women's basketball manager. Prior to arriving at Notre Dame, she worked in public relations with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox.