Feb. 23, 2017
By Megan Golden
BURLINGTON, N.C. -- The No. 9 University of Notre Dame women's lacrosse team handed Elon its first loss in a 16-7 Irish victory at Rudd Field on Thursday. With the win over Elon (4-1), Notre Dame improved to 5-1 and is now 2-0 on the road.
The Irish received strong performances from their captains, seniors Alex Dalton, Katherine Eilers, Cortney Fortunato and Casey Pearsall. The four combined for 15 points, eight goals, seven assists and seven ground balls. Pearsall was responsible for seven of those points.
How It Happened
Fortunato and the Irish scored first for the fourth time this season, and Dalton recorded her first goal of the season to give Notre Dame an early 2-0 lead.
Elon responded with one goal at the 19:10 mark, cutting the Irish lead to 2-1.
Fortunato and sophomore Nikki Ortega each added a goal, and Notre Dame held a 4-2 advantage. The Irish then dominated for the final 13:23 of the first half, going on a 5-0 run to close the half with a 9-2 lead.
Ortega totaled four points in the first half, including three goals and one assist.
Fortunato opened the second half with her third goal of the game, giving her five hat tricks in six games this season. Notre Dame has gone 30-6 in the 36 games in which Fortunato has scored three-plus goals in her career.
Senior Grace Muller, Fortunato, Pearsall and sophomore Samantha Lynch each added goals in the second half, and Pearsall tallied two more assists.
The Phoenix scored three straight goals inside the 4:04 mark of the second half, but the Irish defense was too much to overcome in Notre Dame's 16-7 win.
Player of the Game
Casey Pearsall was all over the field on Thursday, assisting on four scores and recording three goals of her own. Pearsall collected three draw controls, two caused turnovers and one ground ball.
Pearsall scored two goals and had two assists in the first half, including a goal at the 2:17 mark to secure a 9-2 Irish lead at halftime. In the second half, Pearsall played a part in three of seven Irish goals.
"Casey absolutely crushed it today," Fortunato said. "She was big for us taking the draws and on the circle. She finished her opportunities on offense and made great plays, walking away with assists and goals tonight. She also hustled on transition defense and was solid on settled defense for us. Overall, she played awesome and was a huge catalyst for our team and specifically our offense."
Stat of the Game
The Irish recorded successful clears on 21 of 23 clear attempts on Thursday. Notre Dame's midfield, led by Pearsall, limited its turnovers against the Phoenix. Pearsall, Dalton and sophomore Makenna Pearsall combined for just two turnovers in the game.
"I think today was a great day for us from end to end," Pearsall said. "Our defense played phenomenal, stuck to the game plan, and collectively made huge plays. On the attacking side it took us a little to get going but we fought through the beginning and stayed disciplined, eventually capitalizing on our opportunities.
"Overall, the fight and passion that every single member of this team played with tonight was tremendous. This was a great win over a strong opponent and I couldn't be more excited to continue on to the next one with this awesome crew."
Coming Up Next
Notre Dame continues its road trip against No. 8 Duke at noon on Sunday at Koskinen Stadium. The game will be streamed live by the ACC Network Extra through WatchESPN.
For a closer, behind-the-scenes look at the Irish women's lacrosse program, follow @NDWomensLax on Twitter.
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.