Jan. 14, 2017
By Megan Golden
BRADENTON, Fla. -- Just hours after the University of Notre Dame women's lacrosse team's arrival in Bradenton, Fla., Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny had a message for her team.
"Let's improve in every situation," she told the group, which includes 11 new faces.
"We want to be the best team that we can be today," Halfpenny said. "We're certainly not the team we're going to be in May. That's not the point of coming down here. The plan is to play our style, play aggressive, fast, together and ultimately show our confidence.
"Now, we get to run with the best in the world -- what an opportunity. We are one of two teams that get that opportunity."
The Irish traveled to Bradenton on Thursday and are scheduled to face Team USA at 10 a.m. ET on Sunday at IMG Academy. Halfpenny's team, which will play against its captain and offensive leader Cortney Fortunato, understands what a mighty task that will be.
"The team is very excited for this weekend and the opportunity to start our training off by playing such a great U.S. team," Notre Dame senior and captain Casey Pearsall said. "We are going into this weekend with an eagerness to learn, improve, and have some fun."
WHAT: Notre Dame vs. Team USA (Exhibition Game)
WHEN: Sunday, Jan. 15 at 10 a.m. ET
WHERE: IMG Academy (Bradenton, Fla.)
LIVE STREAM: USLacrosse.org
FRIEND NOT FOE
Friday morning, the Irish arrived at the IMG Academy practice fields just in time to catch Fortunato finishing post-practice sprints. Standing on Notre Dame's practice field, all eyes on Team USA's practice field, the Irish paused and cheered for their national superstar.
Several of Fortunato's teammates shouted, "Yeah, Cort, you got this!"
Others yelled, "Keep going, Cort!"
"Look at her just dominating right now," one team member said as Fortunato finished near the top.
This Notre Dame team is oozing pride for their teammate and captain, and they cannot wait to see her in action with the most elite talent in the world.
The only problem: They will be competing against her on Sunday.
"I already know I will absolutely be cheering for her when she does great things," Halfpenny said. "But she's our opponent tomorrow, so I have a conflict of interest emotionally. In the other breath, I'm so competitive that I say to the team, `Hey, we have a scouting report on one player.'
"I'm so proud of everything she's accomplished and the courage that she's put out there. Everyone knows it was always a dream of hers to be wearing the ND monogram on her chest and to be representing us in such an incredible way. She's the definition of Notre Dame; her character is amazing. To see her chase her dream with the USA and the No. 15 on her jersey, it's just awesome."
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.