March 23, 2014
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Brie Custis and Kiera McMullan had hat tricks, Cortney Fortunato had five points and Casey Pearsall tied a school record with nine draw controls as a diverse effort propelled the No. 6 Notre Dame women's lacrosse team (8-3) to a 17-8 win at Villanova (4-4) on Sunday afternoon at Villanova Stadium.
It marks the eighth time in 11 games this year that the Fighting Irish have held their opponent to single digits on the scoreboard, tying for the most since 2007 when Notre Dame held nine opponents to single digits.
Pearsall, who also picked up two assists in the game, matched the school single-game draw control benchmark of nine set by Kaki Orr on May 7, 2006 against Vanderbilt and equaled by Barbara Sullivan on March 13, 2103, also against the Commodores. Pearsall was one of a lucky 13 Fighting Irish players who picked up at least one point in the game, including 10 different goal scorers.
"I was happy to see the continued balance on offense and the growth of that unit," head coach Christine Halfpenny said. "Casey Pearsall's record-tying day on the draw was one of those extra efforts that were important in today's win. Moving forward, we will be focused on valuing possession and taking this momentum into our upcoming games."
The score was tied at 2-2 after 10 minutes of play but the Irish rattled off six straight goals over a span of 9:29 to make it an 8-2 game and take command of the contest. Fortunato got the streak going with an unassisted strike at 19:33. Fortunato set up McMullan for a goal 37 seconds later to put ND up 4-2. From there, chronologically, Custis, McMullan, Grace Muller and Stephanie Toy would score to give the Irish that 8-2 edge. McMullan completed her hat trick on a free position at 0:42 to send the teams to halftime with the score 9-4 in favor of Notre Dame.
Villanova scored two of the second half's first three goals, sandwiched around a Toy tally, to cut the Irish lead to just four goals at 10-6. However, Notre Dame responded with another six-goal run, this time making it a 16-6 game before the string was snapped. Caitlin Gargan scored twice in this run, while Lauren Sullivan and Shauna Pugliese each picked up their third goals of the year, Custis completed her hat trick and Fortunato scored, unassisted to cap it at 8:33.
Freshman Emma Claire Fontenot completed the Notre Dame scoring on a free position shot with 1:51 left in the game for her first career goal. Fontenot is the 18th different Notre Dame player to score a goal this year. The 18 different goal scorers match the 2001 and 2002 teams for the second most in school history, trailing only the school record 19 different Fighting Irish players who scored a goal in 2012.
Allie Murray and Liz O'Sullivan split time in the Irish goal. Murray played the first half, allowed four goals and made three saves, picking up the win. O'Sullivan made a pair of saves in the second half, also allowing four goals.
The Fighting Irish will play four of their final five regular season games at Arlotta Stadium, all against ranked teams, beginning this home stretch on Saturday, March 29, with a noon game against No. 12 Stanford.