No. 13 Notre Dame Prevails in Battle with Louisville

NOTRE DAME, Ind. Cortney Fortunato, Caitlin Gargan and Kiera McMullan all scored twice in the second half as No. 13 Notre Dame put away a tough Louisville side, 12-9, on Saturday afternoon inside Notre Dame's Loftus Sports Center. Goalkeepers Allie Murray and Liz O'Sullivan combined to make nine saves for the Fighting Irish, which improves to 5-2 on the year while the Cardinals dip to 4-3.

In all, McMullan would score four times and add an assist. Fortunato netted her fifth hat trick in seven collegiate games and Gargan would chip in an assist for a three-point day. Notre Dame's defense had a season-high 12 caused turnovers on the day, led by Alex Dalton's three plus two each from Stephanie Peragallo and Michele Phillips.

Playing its fourth game in 10 days in four different states, the Irish fell behind Louisville 4-1 in the game's first eight minutes. Faye Brust scored twice in that burst while Nikki Boltja scored the first of what would be four goals on the day for her while also picking up an assist.

Notre Dame responded and scored three times in a 2:01 span to knot the score back up at 4-4. McMullan scored the first of her four goals in the game on a Rachel Sexton pass at 18:49. McMullan scored again, this time set up by Gargan, at 17:56 and finally Fortunato scored unassisted at 16:48. Louisville reeled off three straight goals to end the half on top 7-4, but the Irish were far from done.

"The way we finished the first half, I wasn't so concerned about the deficit because I liked how our team started to respond," Notre Dame head coach Christine Halfpenny said afterwards.

"Give credit to Louisville. They brought everything today. They are a solid, well-coached team with a solid game plan, but credit to my team for responding. They were able to come into a very physical and strong opponent and still put our brand of lacrosse out there once we regrouped in the middle of the first half. Our bench and depth stepped up, was ready to play, and brought us needed possession."

One reason for Louisville's 7-4 halftime lead was its draw control advantage, topping the Irish by an 11-1 margin in the first half. Kaylin Morissette, who entered the game ranked fourth in the nation individually in draw controls would end up getting eight of them on the day. The Irish switched up their alignment at the half and the second half saw Louisville only hold a 6-5 advantage on draw controls. The extra possessions often became goals for Notre Dame in its comeback win.

"I was thrilled that we were able to make adjustments and respond on the draw control," Halfpenny said. "In our game, possession is everything. It's an offensive player's world at time with the way the rules are. That's OK, but it means that the draw is really important. Today, you have to give Kay Morissette all the credit. She's one of the stronger draw controllers we've come up against, but we made adjustments on the circle with Brie Custis and that will be something we build off of heading into spring break."

Notre Dame outscored the Cardinals 8-2 after intermission, twice going on four-goal runs. The Irish scored the half's first four goals. Fortunato controlled the second half's opening draw for Notre Dame and found Custis who cut back, ran to the net, and scored just 20 seconds into the second half, cutting the deficit to 7-5.

McMullan completed her hat trick at 223:15 on freshman Katherine Eilers' first collegiate assist and then Alex Dalton tied the score on a free position shot at 22:39, tallying just her second goal of the season. Gargan capped the run at 21:10, scoring with an assist to Hannah Hartman, to give Notre Dame its first lead at 8-7. Botlja responded just 31 seconds later to tie the game for Louisville at 8-8.

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