Jan. 25, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Notre Dame's women's lacrosse team has no shortage of student-athletes who uphold the integrity and values of the University and four of them will get to serve as team captains for the 2014 season. Seniors Julia Giorgio, Molly Shawhan and Margaret Smith, along with junior Barbara Sullivan, have been tasked by head coach Christine Halfpenny, and approved by the Faculty Board on Athletics, to lead their peers as the No. 10/11 Fighting Irish face a daunting transition into the toughest women's lacrosse league in the nation - the Atlantic Coast Conference.
"All four of our captains exemplify what we are looking for with the leadership they can provide on and off of the field," Halfpenny said of the selections. "The combination of their work ethic, the ability to inspire their teammates, and the will-to-win and will be a key to our success in our inaugural ACC campaign."
The Irish have a young team as 61-percent of the squad (20-of-33) are either freshmen or sophomores. This quartet's leadership will prove crucial as No. 10/11 Notre Dame faces a stern test in 2014. The ACC can claim five of the country's top seven teams in the 2014 preseason poll and has captured 14 out of a possible 27 national championships since 1986.
Giorgio played 14 games in the midfield last season, starting the NCAA Tournament contest against Stanford. She has been named to the BIG EAST's Academic All-Star list in each of her three years at Notre Dame and was the co-recipient of the squad's 2012 most improved player award.
"Julia was identified by her teammates and the coaches as a strong advocate and go-between due to her strong interpersonal relationships," Halfpenny said of the Greenwich, Conn. native. "Julia is hard working and leads not only by example on the field, but also off the field. She is a strong, goal-oriented student who is focused on the task at hand. I am excited to help her continue to grow in this new role."
Shawhan was the 2013 recipient of the team's Rockne Student-Athlete Award while also claiming a Christopher Zorich Award, a prize given to the Notre Dame student-athletes who best contribute to both the athletic community and the community at large. She should play a big role once again in the Irish defense where she appeared in all 17 games last season, starting each of the final 11.
"Molly's leadership strength lies within her ability to inspire people around her and motivate them to be their best," Halfpenny said of the Fulton, Md. native. "Molly holds both herself and our team to the highest standard. This fall I watched Molly grow personally both on the field and off the field. Our coaching staff and team are excited to allow Molly to lead us into a new era in the ACC with her passion and belief of Notre Dame lacrosse."
Smith, an All-American in 2012, was a first-team All-BIG EAST selection and first-team all-region pick last spring after she trailed only Sullivan within the league in caused turnovers per game. Also serving as a team captain in 2013, Smith will be the 11th two-time team captain for the Irish and the first since Shaylyn Blaney (2010-11).
"After serving the team in the same capacity last season, I am excited to have Margaret back in this role," Halfpenny said of the Westminster, Md. native. "Following a year in which Margaret played through injury she has earned the respect and trust from her coaches and peers to lead this year's team again. She has found a new voice and strength in her communication skills, works well with all members of the coaching and training staff, and, more importantly, shows strength in her personal relationships with her teammates and coaches. She has high expectations for this team and herself."
Sullivan earned first-team All-America accolades last spring as a sophomore after the defensive stalwart ranked second in the nation in ground balls per game and tying for ninth nationally in caused turnovers per game.
"Barbara may be one of the most passionate individuals on our team and provides great motivation on the field," Halfpenny said of the Garden City, N.Y. native. ". She is respected by both her peers and the coaches due to her strong work ethic and `never give up' attitude. She makes those around her better and truly loves the game of lacrosse and pure competition. I am excited for Barbara to ignite the will-to-win in this year's team."
The 2014 season will commence for Notre Dame with a home scrimmage against Michigan on Feb. 8.