May 29, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Notre Dame women's lacrosse team qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the sixth time in the past seven years in 2014 and the individual accolades continue to pile up for some of the student-athletes who led the Irish to yet another winning season while facing the nation's third-hardest strength of schedule.
On Thursday, Margaret Smith was one of 16 players nationally named to Inside Lacrosse's All-ILWomen Team. ILWomen.com also named Alex Dalton and Cortney Fortunato to their 16-member All-Rookie team. Earlier this week, Smith was named as a member of the South team for the IWLCA's annual North-South All Star Game. That contest will be played at Cabrini College in Radnor, Pennsylvania on June 7.
Previously named a first-team All-American by the IWLCA, Smith led 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 finished 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.
Dalton was also an IWLCA all-region pick following a 2014 season where she served as 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 ranked sixth in the ACC.
Fortunato, WomensLax.com's national Rookie of the Year and a third-team IWLCA All-America pick, 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, 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.