March 26, 2017
By Megan Golden
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The No. 15 University of Notre Dame women's lacrosse team used an explosive first half to knock off No. 4 Syracuse 16-7 on Sunday at the Carrier Dome.
Notre Dame (9-4, 3-1), coming off of three straight losses, bounced back in dominant fashion to win its fourth game away from home. The Irish were rolling on all cylinders in the first half, which had been its kryptonite throughout the first part of the season.
Notre Dame owned a 7-4 advantage at halftime, and for the seventh time in as many tries this season, it held on to its first-half lead to ultimately win the game.
Notre Dame went on two dominant scoring runs -- including a 4-0 run in the first half and a 6-0 run in the second half -- to eventually improve to 3-1 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Syracuse (8-3, 2-1), meanwhile, suffered its first conference loss.
Syracuse opened the scoring with a goal 4:34 into the game and had a 3-2 lead at the 13:42 mark of the first half. That would be the last time Notre Dame trailed in the contest as it went on a 14-4 run over the remaining 43:42 of the game.
Notre Dame opened a 4-0 run that lasted 7:36 in the first half, and the Orange added a goal to cut the deficit to 6-4 at the 4:12 mark of the first half.
The Irish began the second half with five straight goals, capping a 6-0 run that lasted 14:12. Notre Dame limited the Orange to three second-half goals and seven goals total in the game, almost 10 goals below Syracuse's average.
"We're not talking about a (Syracuse) team that hasn't been winning. We're talking about a team that came in 8-2," Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny said. "They create a lot of chaos with their athleticism and what they're able to do."
Player of the Game
Irish sophomore Samantha Giacolone matched her career high with 13 saves, marking her most saves in any game this season. Syracuse finished just 3-10 on free position attempts.
Giacolone collected four ground balls and one caused turnover in the game. She has gathered at least four ground balls in seven of the team's 13 games.
"I've been working a lot on free position shots," Giacolone said. "I know this week I've been thrown in a lot for free position shots because it's not my strongest suit. Being proactive and not reactive and being able to move my hands faster and have my body follow -- it's all up to me and me focusing on the ball.
"It goes both ways, and today it went my way. I got lucky."
Halfpenny begged to disagree with her goalkeeper.
"Sam says she was lucky," Halfpenny said. "I don't think our kids were lucky today. They took all the preparation and made sure that destiny was in their hands by battling and getting the ground ball or battling and winning the draw because Syracuse is so good at those."
Stat of the Game
Notre Dame's senior class combined to record 13 points on 10 goals and three assists. The Irish starting lineup featured seven seniors as Heidi Annaheim and Emma Claire Fontenot each recorded their first start of the season.
The Class of 2017 totaled 11 ground balls, 12 caused turnovers and nine draw controls in the game.
"Our seniors came out here and led us today," Halfpenny said. "They remember what it felt like to win in the dome, because it doesn't happen very often. Syracuse doesn't lose in the dome very often."
Alex Dalton recorded a season-high three points on two goals and one assist with two ground balls and two draw controls.
Cortney Fortunato tallied her 38th career hat trick, giving the Irish their 31st win in those games. Notre Dame is 5-2 in games in which Fortunato has scored at least three goals this season.
Casey Pearsall (156 draw controls) climbed past assistant coach Margaret Smith (151) and Jillian Byers (154) to third place in the Irish record book with six draw controls in the game. The senior is nine draws away from tying Shaylyn Blaney (165) for second and 113 from tying Barbara Sullivan (269).
Pearsall finished the game with three points on two goals and one assist with two ground balls and six draw controls.
Coming Up Next
The Irish return home to host conference foe, No. 2 North Carolina, at Noon ET on April 2 at Arlotta Stadium. Admission is free for all fans.
For a closer, behind-the-scenes look at the Irish women's lacrosse team, follow @NDWomensLax on Twitter and ndwlax on Snapchat.
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.