March 19, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The No. 6 Notre Dame women's lacrosse team made its Arlotta Stadium debut on Wednesday night and it was good to be in the great outdoors for the Fighting Irish as nine different players scored a goal in a 12-5 victory over Marquette (3-5). Notre Dame (7-3) had played each of its first four home games of the year inside the Loftus Sports Center.
Margaret Smith continued making a strong case for All-American honors in the defensive midfield with a game-high five ground balls, two caused turnovers, two draw controls and her first goal of the season as well. The two caused turnovers give Smith 101 in her Notre Dame career, making her just the fifth player in Irish lore to eclipse the century mark. Cortney Fortunato, Caitlin Gargan and Kiera McMullan all scored two goals and added an assist for three point nights. Liz O'Sullivan got her first career start in the Notre Dame goal and made 11 saves to earn her second win of the year.
"We keep seeing continued improvement," head coach Christine Halfpenny said afterwards. "Of our 12 goals tonight, six had helpers. That shows that we're coming together. Even being halfway through the season, it's never too late to improve. We're thrilled seeing the continued improvement from this young and deep squad.
"Liz O'Sullivan had a great outing. Playing your first full 60-minute collegiate game as a rookie with 11 saves and only giving up five goals (is impressive). Kudos to her and a huge round of applause (from me) for the strong defense in front of her."
Notre Dame scored each of the game's first three goals to go up 3-0 midway through the first half. McMullan opened the scoring on a free position shot at 25:22. Gargan converted on Rachel Sexton's feed at 22:20 and Fortunato scored at 14:24, set up by Gargan for her team-high ninth assist of the year. Marquette got one of those goals back at 9:34, but the Irish would score each of the game's next eight goals. Michele Phillips started the run, with an assist to McMullan, and then Gargan tallied on a free position at 1:20 to give Notre Dame a 5-1 lead at halftime.
The six-goal run to open the second half started at 27:00 when Fortunato scored her team-high 26th of the year on a free position shot. Fortunato entered the game with 24 goals on the year, a sum that led all freshmen nationally. After Fortunato's second goal, which came at 27:00, Casey Pearsall controlled the ensuing draw, pushed the ball up the field and found McMullan for a goal at 26:50, just 10 seconds after Fortunato's, to put Notre Dame on top 7-1.
After Sexton scored her 20th goal of the year, unassisted, at 23:18, it was Smith's turn to crack the scoring column, burying a high shot at 21:11 from Fortunato. Reflecting her team's depth, Smith became the 18th different Notre Dame player to score a goal so far in 2014. Only 17 different Fighting Irish players scored a goal in all of 2013's 17 games.
Notre Dame got two more rapid-succession goals to cap the eight-goal run and invoke the running clock with an 11-1 lead. Stephanie Toy scored on a free position at 12:20. Pearsall won the draw and it led just 16 seconds later to her fellow freshman Heidi Annaheim's sixth goal of the year at 12:04. Pearsall stood strong on draw controls and tied Alex Dalton for the team lead with three in the game. Overall, Notre Dame enjoyed a 13-7 edge in draw controls on the night along with a 25-18 margin for ground balls and a 28-22 shot advantage.
Marquette would pick up four of the game's final five goals scored inside the last 8:35 of play, a stretch broken up for Notre Dame by yet another freshman goal scorer, this time Grace Muller, converting on a feed from Toy.
The Fighting Irish will next head to suburban Philadelphia to face former BIG EAST rival Villanova (4-3) at noon on Sunday. It will be Notre Dame's sixth road game out of eight contests and its last game this season against a team not currently in the national Top 20 polls.