May 20, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Notre Dame women's lacrosse team grabbed some national attention during its first season in the ACC and, not surprisingly, it received some national accolades on Tuesday morning as senior Margaret Smith and freshman Cortney Fortunato were both named to the IWLCA's All-American teams. Smith was a first-team selection while Fortunato took home third-team honors from the sport's national coaching association.
Smith's pick marks the sixth time in the last seven years that Notre Dame has produced a first-team All-American and the second-straight year the Irish have had a first-team All-America pick on defense as Smith's Irish teammate Barbara Sullivan (injured this spring) was a first-team pick in 2013. Fortunato was one of just two freshmen nationally to earn All-America honors in 2014. She is just the second freshman school history to be named All-American, joining Jillian Byers, a second-team pick in 2006.
Also a third-team All-America selection as a sophomore in 2012, Smith led the ACC in both ground balls and caused turnovers this spring. 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 entering this weekend's national semifinals.
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 on draw controls after losing Sullivan to injury, Smith led Notre Dame with her 47 draw controls this spring. Smith's 168 career ground balls rank third amongst all active players nationally.
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. Smith was selected as one of 25 nominees to the Tewaaraton Trophy, given to the national player of the year. She also was named All-ACC and picked up her third consecutive spot on the all-region team.
One of just two freshmen on the 2014 All-America teams, 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 Byers' 78 in 2006.
Despite facing a steady stream of defenses designed specifically to stop her while playing against the nation's second-toughest schedule, Fortunato recorded nine hat tricks in 2014. She also led the Irish with four game-winning goals this past spring. Fortunato showed that she wasn't just a scorer by also getting 22 ground balls and 16 draw controls along with nine caused turnovers.
The tandem will be honored at the IWLCA All-American banquet on Saturday, June 7, 2014 at the Radisson Hotel Valley Forge in King Prussia, Pa.