Feb. 11, 2017
By Megan Golden
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- For the second consecutive year, the No. 8 University of Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team swept the weekend with wins on back-to-back days. The Irish (2-1) overcame a slow start and outlasted Detroit Mercy (0-1), 24-9, on Saturday at Loftus Sports Center.
Notre Dame improves to 3-0 all-time against the Titans. In its last two victories against Detroit Mercy, the Irish have outscored the Titans, 25-3.
How It Happened
For the first time this season, the Irish trailed, 1-0, to open the game. Notre Dame and Detroit Mercy exchanged pairs of goals for much of the first half as the game saw six ties and seven lead changes.
Three of Notre Dame’s first six goals came on free position shots.
“You could tell that this was game two in less than a 24-hour turnaround,” Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny said. “Really, we just had to get comfortable with allowing the play to develop on offense. I thought we did a lot of great things. We were winning the draw, we were relentless on any 50-50 ball. We just were a little bit out of sync and seemed a little bit impatient. We were kind of forcing the issue for no reason.”
Notre Dame carried an 8-7 lead into halftime, and similar to Friday’s game versus Liberty, tightened up its defense in the second half. The Titans were limited to just seven shots (14 in the first half) and two goals in the final half, while Notre Dame went on a 7-0 run to start the second half.
Senior Cortney Fortunato collected six goals and four assists, totaling a career-high 10 points on the day. Fortunato finished the game two points away from tying Jillian Byers’ school record.
“Once we added some good and positive communication to the offensive set, I think we were able to mentally settle in to a patient attack,” she said. “We were able to be patient, yet aggressive, and allow the play to develop and find the holes.”
Player of the Game
Sophomore Samantha Lynch followed up Friday’s career outing with yet another career day. The midfielder scored six goals and gathered five draw controls on Saturday versus Detroit Mercy.
In the first half, each of Lynch’s two goals knotted the game. Her final four goals came in the second half, three as part of a 7-0 run to open the second half.
In just one game this season -- against Liberty -- Lynch matched her 2016 total in points, goals and assists (5-4-1). Including Saturday’s game, Lynch owns 11 points, 10 goals and one assist on the season.
Stat of the Game
Notre Dame tied the school record with 22 draw controls, including nine from the hands of freshman Savannah Buchanan. The Irish won the draw control battle, 22-12, including winning 14 of 18 draws in the second half.
In fact, Notre Dame scored with seven seconds remaining in the game, but the running clock prevented it from a final opportunity to break the school record.
Buchanan turned in a veteran-like performance and already has impacted Notre Dame’s offensive play in just three career games. Her nine draw controls against the Titans tied the Notre Dame record, which is co-owned by senior Casey Pearsall.
On Saturday, Notre Dame’s roster was missing seniors Katherine Eilers and Casey Pearsall, but Halfpenny said Buchanan stepped up in their absence.
“She’s a winner,” Halfpenny said. “She does what the team needs to get the W, and that’s what we’ve seen in three games now. When we needed goals and the ball in the back of the net against Northwestern, she did that. She competed, and she knows what her role is there.
“The last few days, she’s continuing to get comfortable with her shot selection, but that aside, she gave us 10 possessions to put the ball in the back of the net. Her value to this team is really hard to measure.”
Coming Up Next
Notre Dame returns to action at 7 p.m. ET on Tuesday, when it hosts Marquette 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.