February 23, 2014

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Fortunato, Notre Dame Top Turnover-Prone Stony Brook

by Matthew DeFranks | LaxMagazine.com | Live Blog Replay

Freshman attacker Cortney Fortunato scored four goals and swooped in for a crucial draw control late to seal No. 16 Notre Dame's 8-7 win over No. 11 Stony Brook.

Live Blog Replay

 

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — In a game played in a "shoebox," it was only fitting No. 16 Notre Dame hung on by a shoelace in a 8-7 victory over No. 11 Stony Brook on Saturday night at Loftus Sports Center.

After the Notre Dame and Penn State men's lacrosse teams played outside at Arlotta Stadium on Saturday afternoon, the Notre Dame (2-1) and Stony Brook (2-1) women's squads were forced inside to the narrower Loftus field.

Seawolves coach Joe Spallina attributed some of his team's 18 turnovers to the smaller field.

"I think the facility had something to do with it," Spallina said. "It's a shoebox. I was a little perplexed as to why the men played at Arlotta today and we were forced to play in here. It's a beautiful facility, don't get me wrong, but I think our kids are used to playing on such a big field. We get caught on the sidelines and we get caught in spots we normally don't get caught in."

Irish coach Christine Halfpenny said the decision to play indoors was made about a week before Saturday's game. She said they were not sure if Arlotta's field would be cleared in time for the scheduled noon start time and they wanted to reschedule the game before Stony Brook flew out to South Bend.

"We prefer to be outside but unfortunately, the weather hasn't agreed with us," Halfpenny said. "At the end of the day, we wanted to make sure we got this game in."

Notre Dame jumped out to an early 2-0 lead 6:29 into the game after goals by highly touted freshman attacker Cortney Fortunato. Fortunato bounced back from a one-goal performance against Boston College a week ago with four goals and an assist.

Sophomore attacker Rachel Sexton scored two goals, while sophomore midfielder Stephanie Toy and junior midfielder Caitlin Gargan each added a goal for the Irish.

"Cortney made some great things happen and then I think she was in the right place at the right time," Halfpenny said. "That dynamic that's back there with Cortney and [Kiera McMullan] and Rachel and Gargan and then our middie line, I think that helps everybody get the touches they need. And then, of course, Cortney just had a monster day for us."

Although Fortunato's goals get the attention, it was her draw control with less than two minutes left that sealed the game for the Irish.

After Stony Brook freshman attacker Alyssa Guido slipped a free-position shot past Irish junior goalkeeper Allie Murray (five saves), the Seawolves were down just one with 1:41 left in the game. On the ensuing draw, Fortunato swooped in and corralled the loose ball to ice the game for Notre Dame.

"Huge," Halfpenny said. "That's why we put her there. We wanted to make sure we could seal that game in the final possession and put Cortney up there. That's part of the stick skills she has to get up there, get the ball, pull it down and there's zero question who has control of the ball at that point."

Stony Brook battled back from a 7-2 second-half deficit by scoring five of the game's next six goals, three of which were by freshman midfielder Dorrien Van Dyke. Five of Stony Brook's seven goals came from freshmen.

The Seawolves struggled to find any rhythm offensively, in part, due to their 18 turnovers.

"I don't think we got the ball a ton on offense," Spallina said. "That was a big factor for us. We turned the ball over a lot between the 30s and it's tough to go that way. We have to do a better job of that. When we had the ball on offense, I think we got quality looks. We'll get better for it."

Both teams also could not generate many fluid possessions because of the combined 71 fouls called in the game.

For the Irish, it was their first win when scoring fewer than nine goals since a 7-6 overtime win over Georgetown in 2012.

"We left one here," Spallina said. "This is one we could have stolen and gotten out of here with a win so in that way, it's a little disappointing."

Now, the Irish will turn their attention to defending NCAA champion No. 1 North Carolina. Notre Dame meets the Tar Heels on Thursday night at 7 p.m. in Chapel Hill, N.C.

"We got a taste of what they could do without their full lineup in the fall, but felt really good about how we can match their speed and their athleticism," Halfpenny said. "We're going to look at this just like any other game."


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