May 13, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - On the heels of a season which saw the Irish advance through to the second round of the NCAA Tournament, three members of the Notre Dame women's lacrosse team, freshman Alex Dalton, freshman Cortney Fortunato and senior Margaret Smith, were named to the IWLCA's All-West/Midwest region teams on Monday.
Smith and Fortunato were first team picks while Dalton was named to the second team. All three are now eligible for All-American consideration by the sport's coaching organization.
It is the third straight year that Smith has been a first-team all-region selection and could be a harbinger of bigger awards to come for the Tewaaraton Trophy nominee who leads the ACC in both ground balls and caused turnovers. The lone regular senior starter for the Irish in 2014, leading a young team as a captain, Smith is also amongst the national leaders in those key defensive statistical categories, ranking seventh in ground balls and ninth in caused turnovers.
Smith's 64 ground balls this year broke Holly Manthei's school record of 63 set in 1998. She also set the school's career caused turnover record with 122. Particularly crucial after losing 2013 first-team All-American Barbara Sullivan to injury early on, Smith led Notre Dame with her 47 draw controls this spring.
Smith's play was especially strong in big games as she caused a total of 21 turnovers in Notre Dame's seven elite ACC league games. Her next closest competitor only caused 10 in conference play.
Fortunato came to South Bend after a supremely decorated high school career and topped Notre Dame in scoring as a freshman, posting team-highs with her 46 goals, 17 assists and 63 points. It was the second-highest point total ever for a Notre Dame freshman, eclipsed only by Jillian Byers' 78 in 2006.
Despite facing a steady stream of defenses designed specifically to stop her while facing the nation's second-toughest schedule, Fortunato recorded nine hat tricks in 2014. Fortunato showed that she wasn't just a scorer by also getting 22 ground balls and 16 draw controls along with nine caused turnovers.
Dalton proved to be a critical piece in Notre Dame's defense as a freshman, while also using her speed as an asset in clears. Some of those clears allowed Dalton to lead all Notre Dame defensive players with three goals and five points on the year. Dalton started all 19 games and picked up 38 ground balls, caused 19 turnovers and controlled 22 draws. Dalton's 2.00 ground balls per game rank sixth in the ACC.