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Notre Dame Women’s Lacrosse: #7 Irish Down #20 Louisville, 9-7

Notre Dame again erases a first-half deficit against a ranked ACC foe

Casey Pearsall
Marcus Snowden

Call ’em the Cardiac Kids.

For the second game in a row, the Notre Dame women’s lacrosse team erased a first-half deficit and knocked off a ranked Atlantic Coast Conference foe. The #7 Irish - lead by senior Cortney Fortunato’s four-point day - beat #20 Louisville, 9-7, Saturday afternoon at Arlotta Stadium.

The Irish (7-1, 2-0) were as frigid in the first half as the weather, scoring just four goals on 16 shots in their first home game outdoors this season. The Cardinals (6-2, 0-1 ACC) combined solid goaltending from Brittany Read, an effective transition offense and some good penetration in front of the net to continue its trend of outscoring opponents in the first half.

The Irish got first-half goals from Fortunato and Grace Muller, both senior attackers, as well as freshman midfielder Savannah Buchanan and junior Molly Cobb. Muller’s goal was a rare conversion for the Irish on a free-position attempt. Notre Dame had entered the game converting 38.7 percent of its FPAs, but went just 2-of-14 in this game.

Senior Casey Pearsall was lost early for the second game in a row. This time, she was felled by an injury early in the first half after a shot attempt. While Pearsall walked off under her own power, she did not return.

The loss was most felt during draw controls, which the Cardinals dominated, 11-6.

The Irish had averaged eight first-half goals this season, but Read kept the attack in check with six saves (and a career-high 16 overall). The Cardinals lead at half, 5-4.

After the break, the Irish - who have outshot opponents 132-63 in second halves entering today - got their second goal from Cobb. The Cardinals swarmed Fortunato, second among Division I players in points, and she found the junior battling in front.

The Irish took a 6-5 lead - one that they would not relinquish for the rest of the game - two minutes later. Fortunato again drew the defense into herself and then found a cutting Samantha Lynch who found the back of the net for her 18th goal of the season.

Five minutes later, sophomore Nikki Ortega capitalized on a rare Read miscue, banging the ball of the goalie’s stick for her 12th goal of the season and first of the game.

Freshman Erin McBride and sophomore Makenna Pearsall, Casey’s younger sister, capped the scoring for the Irish.

"The team was outstanding, top to bottom," Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny told UND.com. "The defense really fueled our offense today. I couldn't be more proud of the job our defense did today, anchored by (goalkeeper) Sam Giacolone with Alex Dalton and Katherine Eilers."

"We had an incredible first half but we have to get back to playing a complete game," Louisville head coach Kellie Young told GoCards.com. "Our defense was phenomenal. I couldn't ask for much better execution of our game plan. Brittany (Read) had the best game of her career in and out of the cage."

Cardinals Hannah Koloski, who entered today’s game tied with Fortunato for the division lead with 27 goals, scored two in a losing effort.

The Irish next play Tuesday at home against the Ohio State Buckeyes (5-1), a top 25 team according to the Inside Lacrosse poll. They’ll also play Saturday at #12 Princeton (4-0), who beat fellow Ivy League foe, Brown, 10-7, today.