NO. 12 NOTRE DAME WOMENâ??S LACROSSE FALLS AT NO. 1 NORTH CAROLINA, 19-9
February 28, 2014HOOSIER SPORTS 365
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – For a 26-minute stretch, the No. 12 Notre Dame women’s lacrosse
team stood toe-to-toe with No. 1 North Carolina, matching the defending national
champions on the scoreboard 7-7. Unfortunately for the Irish (2-2, 0-2 ACC), the Tar
Heels (5-0, 1-0) dominated the opening and closing stretches of the contest to
record a 19-9 win at Fetzer Field on Thursday night.
Amongst the highlights on the Irish side of the box score, Barbara Sullivan
controlled seven draws against one of the country’s top draw control teams. Margaret
Smith caused four turnovers defensively, got four ground balls and controlled a pair
of draws. Brie Custis scored once, had four ground balls, two draw controls and two
caused turnovers. Hannah Hartman and Cortney Fortunato each scored a pair of goals
to lead Notre Dame’s scoring. Heidi Annaheim and Kiera McMullan each had a goal and
an assist for the Irish in the game. Notre Dame’s nine goals are the most that UNC
has allowed this year.
However, four different UNC players netted at least a hat trick on the night, led by
Carly Reed’s five goals. Ultimately, 19 turnovers proved costly for Notre Dame as
did the transition opportunities the turnovers created. The Irish were just 9-for-16
in clears while UNC was 15-for-17 and the end result was a 10 goal loss, matching
the largest margin of defeat for Notre Dame since a 19-7 loss to No. 2 Northwestern
in the 2010 NCAA Tournament.
“Out of the gates, both teams seemed shaky but Carolina got on the board first and
gained momentum,” Notre Dame head coach Christine Halfpenny said. “At the end of the
game, we had some things that we can build on. Our youth continues to impress us.
Our strong players on the draw in Barbara Sullivan and on defense in Margaret Smith
get us excited about what we’re going to see this season.
“However, they have to learn a tough lesson regarding turnovers. It’s difficult to
win games with 19 turnovers. We can’t panic. We have to learn to play with poise,
confidence and to quickly overcome the small mistakes so they don’t lead to big
The Tar Heels scored each of the first five goals but the Irish showed plenty of
resilient fight in playing an even second half of the opening stanza, recording a
4-4 tie over the final 18 minutes. McMullan snapped UNC’s game-opening run with a
goal set up by Stephanie Toy with 14:19 left in the half. UNC extended its lead to
7-1, but the Irish scored three of the next four goals to cut their deficit to just
four goals at 8-4. Brie Custis scored her first goal of the year at 11:05 while
Hartman scored from Annaheim at 4:18 and Casey Pearsall tallied unassisted with 1:06
remaining before intermission. Typical of their effort all night, however, the Tar
Heels scored with just an unlucky 13 seconds left to take a 9-4 lead into the locker
After UNC extended its lead to 11-4 just two minutes into the second half, Notre
Dame again responded with a three-out-of-four goal spurt to cut the deficit to just
five goals at 12-7. Fortunato got her first goal of the night to start the run at
the 27:16 mark. Hartman got her second of the night from Kaitlyn Brosco at 24:42 and
Fortunato ripped a bullet into the top corner on a free position at 22:34.
The next five goals would all come from the Tar Heels as they demonstrated the
mettle that allowed the team to earn its lofty ranking. The Irish were not quite
willing to call it a night, however, matching goals with UNC over the final 6:00.
Annaheim scored at 5:44 and senior captain Molly Shawhan found the back of the net
on a scrappy goal with one second remaining in the contest, set up by McMullan.
“I am proud of my team that in the final eight minutes, we still saw a fight,”
Halfpenny said. “No matter how the goal went in at the end, we had a goal at the end
and I think that shows how our youth will continue to grow throughout the course of
The Irish will next get a chance to show that fighting spirit on Sunday when the
team heads up I-81 to face Virginia Tech at noon in Blacksburg.