Sept. 12, 2017
By Leigh Torbin
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - The Notre Dame women's lacrosse program has steadily developed over the past six seasons under head coach Christine Halfpenny. The Irish have made the NCAA Championship all six seasons -- the longest such run in school history. The Irish reached the NCAA quarterfinals in 2016 for the first time since 2009. Each of the past two years have seen Notre Dame tie for third in the Atlantic Coast Conference, the nation's most difficult league. Now, for the second time in five years, Notre Dame has landed Inside Lacrosse's No. 1 recruit in the nation.
This run of competitive success has not gone unnoticed by the women's lacrosse community and, coupled with the academic opportunities the University affords its student body, Notre Dame has attracted some of the nation's top recruiting classes in recent years. The incoming Irish freshmen have constituted one of the country's top 10 classes each of the past four seasons with a fifth such selection likely upcoming.
Reflective of this stature, Notre Dame freshman midfielder Andie Aldave was named Inside Lacrosse's No. 1 recruit in the nation last week after her brilliant run at the McDonogh School where the Catonsville, Maryland, native helped the Eagles to a No. 1 national ranking and their ninth consecutive state championship.
Aldave tallied 31 goals and 27 assists from her midfield position en route to an Under Armour All-American senior campaign this past spring. Aldave has been a star beyond just the stout Maryland high school scene as well. She was the youngest member of the United States U-19 national team that claimed a sliver medal at the 2015 world championships in Prague.
"I committed to looking at all schools, taking my time to figure out what I wanted, and when I stepped on the Notre Dame campus, I got that feeling that it was home," Aldave told Inside Lacrosse. "I fell in love with the tradition of the place. They're so invested in academics and athletics. That was one thing that I fell in love with."
Aldave is just the latest Eagle to fly from suburban Baltimore to South Bend as she will be joined by McDonogh teammate Savannah Buchanan who started 18 games for the Irish in 2017 and led the squad with 26 caused turnovers. Last year's senior class included a pair of McDonogh graduates in Grace Muller and Hannah Rees. The Irish are in part mentored by an Eagle aluma as Maggie Smith is in her second year as an assistant coach on Halfpenny's staff after concluding a first team All-America playing career for the Irish in 2014.
"They know how to win and they know the sacrifice that goes into achieving their goals coming from McDonogh," Halfpenny said, excited to reunite Buchanan and Aldave on the field in 2018. "That mentality is huge for us and will absolutely benefit our team."
Aldave is the second No. 1-overall recruit to sign with Notre Dame in the past five years, joining former Northport, New York, prep star Cortney Fortunato from the signing class of 2013. Fortunato graduated from Notre Dame in May after a four-time All-American career for the Irish that saw her finish as the second-leading scorer in school history.
In addition to Aldave standing atop the recruiting rankings, a pair of other Irish freshmen are in the top 50 in 30th-ranked Kaci Messier (Victor, N.Y.) and 47th-ranked Bridget Deehan (Milton, Ga.). Additionally, a pair of Irish freshmen made the top 50 watchlist in Lizzy Doherty (Chatham, N.J.) and Diana Kelly (Chatham, N.J.).
Leigh Torbin, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2013. A native of Framingham, Massachusetts, Torbin graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1998 with a bachelor's degree in sports management. He has previously worked full-time on the athletic communications staffs at Vanderbilt, Florida, Connecticut and UCF.