Liberty Drops Road Contest at No. 8 Notre Dame to Open Season

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Liberty women’s lacrosse team opened its season with a loss at No. 8 Notre Dame, 18-2, on Friday night at the Loftus Sports Center.

The Lady Flames fall to 0-1 with the loss, while the Irish improve to 1-1.

Cortney Fortunato led the Irish with seven goals, while Samantha Lynch put in four goals. Nikki Ortega recorded five assists in the game for Notre Dame. Liberty got its two markers from senior Courtney Brown and freshman Hannah Quast.

Notre Dame got on the board first, as Grace Muller scored on an assist from Nikki Ortega with 28:22 remaining in the first stanza.

Liberty scored at the 24:51 mark to tie the game, 1-1. Brown scored the Lady Flames’ first goal of the year with 24:51 to play in the half off a feed from Kayla Foster. Foster fed a lead pass to Brown, and Brown fired it past Notre Dame goalkeeper Samantha Giacolone into the top right portion of the frame.

Fortunato gave the Irish a 2-1 advantage with an unassisted goal with 21:46 left in the half. The Irish then went on a four-goal spurt in a span of 1:12, capped off by another Fortunato goal with 17:38 to play in the first half, to give the home side a 6-1 edge.

Notre Dame would score four more times in the half on goals from Fortunato, Savannah Buchanan, Muller and Molly Cobb while keeping the Lady Flames off the scoreboard to take a 10-1 lead into halftime. Liberty goalkeeper Aubrie Tarris turned aside several good Irish scoring chances, making seven saves in the first half.

In the second half, Notre Dame scored the first six goals, including three from Fortunato, to give the home side a 16-1 advantage.

The Lady Flames scored their final goal of the night, as freshman Nikki Stumpf found Quast cutting through the middle. Quast collected the pass and ripped a shot past Giacolone for her first career collegiate goal.

The Irish netted the final two markers (Cobb, Lynch) over the last four minutes of play to settle the score at 18-2.

Notre Dame held advantages over Liberty in shots (44-7), ground balls (17-12), and draw controls (15-6). The Lady Flames’ defense was effective in limiting Irish free-position scoring attempts, as the home team converted just 5-of-14 free-position shots.

Tarris, who drew the start for Liberty and was credited with the loss, made eight saves and surrendered 14 goals. Katherine Widrick closed out the contest in net for the Lady Flames, allowing four goals and making two saves. Giacolone earned the victory for Notre Dame, allowing two goals and making two stops.

“This was a really good test for us. Notre Dame is a very good team, well-coached, and I think we did some things well. I think we learned a lot, and we are excited to continue to go to work and be better in our next game,” said Liberty Head Lacrosse Coach Kelly Nangle. “We had a lot of younger players out there who got some game experience that they will be able to build on. We will be better because of this game, and that’s what’s most important, to continue to grow and learn as we go through the season.”

The Lady Flames will head to Indianapolis for a Sunday contest at Butler. The game is set for 11 p.m. at the West Campus Athletic Field.

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