Blogs and Commentary

posted 10.31.2011 at 10.45 a.m. by Clare Lochary

Team USA's Fortunato Verbals to Notre Dame

Cortney Fortunato, a junior attacker for Northport (N.Y.) High School and the leading scorer on the US squad that won the FIL U19 Women's World Championship this summer, has verbally committed to the University of Notre Dame. This is a huge recruiting get for first-year head coach Christine Halfpenny, who took the helm in South Bend in July. Fortunato was the youngest player on Team USA, and was the only one who had not yet committed to college. She will join her U19 teammates Barb Sullivan and Allie Murray at Notre Dame.

"There are many qualities that drew me to Notre Dame, such as the absolutely incredible campus. It is the most beautiful place." said Fortunato in an e-mail. "It's an extremely prestigious school with amazing academics. The facilities are top notch. The coaching staff is great and highly motivated to win, and the athletic atmosphere is amazing."

Playing for her high school team, Fortunato scored the game-winner on a free position in Northport's 12-11 OT win over Pittsford in the Class A state championship, at the end of an epic seven-hour game plagued by bad weather and multiple stoppages. It was the Tigers' first ever women's lacrosse title.

Since it's Halloween, allow me a terrible pun: Fortunato is scary good. (Here is my article from the April 2011 issue of Lacrosse Magazine profiling her.) I'm lucky enough that I get to watch a lot of lacrosse, and a lot of really good lacrosse at that. When I saw her play in Hanover this summer, Fortunato made my jaw drop several times. She scored 25 goals and 34 points playing for Team USA, usually while dealing with a faceguard. She also led the team in nicknames: her teammates called her Baby Sister (she was the only '13 grad on the squad), and the fans called her Cort Fort. The Haudenoasaunee team, wide-eyed at Fortunato's crazy stick skills, just called her "the Legend."

In June, Notre Dame made it clear that they had higher ambitions for its women's lacrosse program when the school did not renew the contract of 15-year coach Tracy Coyne, who had a .600 overall record and a trip to the 2006 final four to her credit. Halfpenny's hire was a bit of a head scratcher, then, since she had a 43-44 record over five seasons at William & Mary. But if Fortunato is the type of recruit she can pull when given serious resources, it may be the dawn of a new era in South Bend.

"The main reason I chose ND is because the second I stepped on campus I fell in love with it. You just feel something special when you walk onto campus," she said. "I think Notre Dame is going to have a major breakthrough in lacrosse over the next few years, and I hope I can help achieve our goals of excelling  and becoming national champions."