May 21, 2016
By Chris Masters
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Cortney Fortunato and Kiera McMullan each scored twice and Samantha Giacolone made six saves, but it was not enough as the No. 6 University of Notre Dame women's lacrosse team saw its 2016 season come to a close with a hard-fought 10-6 loss in the NCAA Championship quarterfinals at Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) rival and third-ranked North Carolina on Saturday afternoon at Fetzer Field.
The Fighting Irish (14-7) knotted the game at 3-3 on Alex Dalton's lone goal of the game with 10:36 remaining in the first half. However, UNC (18-2) responded by netting three of the final four goals in the opening stanza to take a 6-4 lead into the dressing room. The Tar Heels then scored the first two goals of the second half before Notre Dame pulled within 8-5 on Fortunato's second tally of the day with 19:03 to play, but UNC's Molly Hendrick answered with a goal 52 seconds later and the Fighting Irish could not get closer than three scores the rest of the afternoon.
Notre Dame finished with a slim 21-19 edge in total shots, although North Carolina held a 16-14 advantage in shots on goal. Each team scooped 15 ground balls, while the Fighting Irish forced 13 UNC turnovers, committing 12 on their own.
Molly Cobb added the other goal for Notre Dame, while Marie McCool scored three goals and Hendrick added a pair of scores to lead North Carolina. UNC goalkeeper Megan Ward made eight saves between the pipes for the Tar Heels.
"The first thing you have to look at is (UNC goalkeeper) Megan Ward was outstanding today," Notre Dame head coach Christine Halfpenny said. "She was all over us. She turned away multiple point-blank opportunities and I think when your goalie is hot like that ... that's something that we struggled with today, adjusting our shooting and going 6-for-21, that's just a tough day out for us. We got our looks and just didn't finish them out today.
"Realistically, I was really pleased with how we were competing in the draw circle, coming up against a really strong draw unit team," Halfpenny added. "I though that, going into the half, we were winning every single category - mind you by one, playing a strong Carolina team. That was part of our plan, (to) compete the whole way, one play at a time and we did a really, really nice job of that. Unfortunately we had a couple of miscues, miscommunications there in the first 10 minutes of the second half, jumping some of the things we didn't want to jump and just missed our switches.
"I don't know if it's really hit me just yet that our season's over," she concluded. "This group of seniors has been so remarkable. This whole senior class has been motivated, they've been driven and they've achieved, coming just short of getting to that Final Four to compete for a national title. We were national contenders all year and it speaks to the attitude they brought every single day to training. every single day to the locker room. They were an incredible group to be with, to be around, and they're absolutely going to leave a legacy for us. They showed the team how to compete, how to have fun when you're doing it, how to be a teammate, how to be a friend - they were just awesome."
Chris Masters, associate athletics communications director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2001 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women's basketball and women's golf programs. A native of San Francisco, California, Masters is a 1996 graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, earned his master's degree from Kansas State University in 1998, and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).