Here at the University of Notre Dame our history of athletic success is rooted in great leadership. First and foremost our coaches are committed to a leadership style that reflects the ideals of the University. They are all challenged to uphold the five pillars of success that have enabled the Notre Dame athletic department to succeed, not just in turning out championship caliber teams, but in developing our student-athletes into well rounded individuals. Each of our head coaches shapes the atmosphere of their respective camps in a way that seeks to give the campers a slice of the Irish Experience; Excellence, Education, Faith, Tradition and Community.
Christine Halfpenny enters her sixth season as head coach of the Notre Dame women's lacrosse program in 2017 after leading the Irish to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the first time since 2009. The postseason run marked the fifth consecutive time the Irish have competed in the NCAA Championship -- the first time in school history that Notre Dame has reached the NCAAs in at least four straight years.
Each of Halfpenny's first five Notre Dame teams earned IWLCA Academic Honor Squad accolades, exuding success both on and off of the lacrosse field. Known on the field for a “fast, aggressive and passionate" style of play, Halfpenny's teams have led their respective conference in caused turnovers each of the past four seasons.
The 2016 Irish earned a trip to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the first time since 2009. Notre Dame finished 14-7 overall and 4-3 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. Halfpenny’s team played a schedule that featured five regular-season, top-10 opponents and 12 teams eventually selected to play in the NCAA Championship. She coached her team to an 8-2 record on their home turf, including two top-10 wins at Arlotta Stadium. Her squad included three IWLCA All-Americans: Cortney Fortunato (first team), Barbara Sullivan (first team) and Casey Pearsall (third team). Three Irish players, including Alex Dalton, Cortney Fortunato and Barbara Sullivan, landed on the Tewaaraton Watch List. Halfpenny’s roster received five All-ACC accolades, the most all-conference picks by an Irish team since 2004 (six Big East selections).
The 2015 Irish continued striding towards Halfpenny's lofty goals for the program as the Irish beat three top-seven teams on the road en route to an ACC semifinal berth and another trip to the NCAAs. The squad saw four of its members pick up All-America honors in Cortney Fortunato (first-team), Barbara Sullivan (first-team), Alex Dalton (second-team) and Casey Pearsall (third-team). Sullivan also became the school's first-ever defensive finalist for the Tewaaraton Trophy and just its second finalist overall. Meanwhile, Katherine McManus earned the Yeardley Reynolds Love Unsung Hero Award for her well-rounded contributions to the community and Caitlin Gargan became the latest in a succession of IWLCA Academic Honor Roll recipients.
That success built off of a 2014 season which saw Notre Dame earn a top-eight NCAA Championship seed and play host to its NCAA regional for the first time since 2009. Margaret Smith picked up first-team All-America honors while Cortney Fortunato claimed a second-team award along with WomensLax.com Rookie of the Year award. Smith was a Tewaaraton Trophy nominee and the co-Defensive Player of the Year nationally. Senior Molly Shawhan earned her second consecutive Yeardley Reynolds Love Unsung Hero finalist spot for her tireless work off of the field as well.
The Irish suffered no sophomore slump under Halfpenny in 2013 as the team went 12-5 and again secured a berth to the NCAA Tournament. Notre Dame beat three ranked foes in 2013 and opened the season on a 10-game winning streak, matching the 2004 school record. Barbara Sullivan was named a first-team All-American after the season, leading a defense that ranked amongst the top five teams nationally in both caused turnovers and ground balls. Overall, the 2013 Irish featured five All-BIG EAST players, five IWLCA West/Midwest all-region picks and 18 BIG EAST Academic All-Stars.
The Irish turned in quite a year in Halfpenny's first campaign at the helm of the program as they finished 13-5 in 2012 and earned bids to both the BIG EAST and NCAA Tournaments. The 13 regular season wins was tied for first in school history, while the 13 wins overall was tied for third in school annals. Notre Dame knocked off five ranked teams during the year as it raced out to an 8-0 start, which was the second-best start in school history and the best since 2004. Halfpenny became the first coach in BIG EAST history to start out 8-0 in their opening year at the helm of their program.
Halfpenny helped tutor five All-BIG EAST and IWLCA West/Midwest all-region performers and two All-Americans. Earning All-BIG EAST and All-Region honors were Maggie Tamasitis, Margaret Smith, Barbara Sullivan, Megan Sullivan and Lindsay Powell. Tamasitis went on to earn second team All-America honors, while Smith was a third teamer.
In the classroom, the 2012 squad was an IWLCA Academic Squad team (combined GPA of 3.0 or higher), while three student-athletes made the IWLCA Academic Honor Roll (Kelly Driscoll, McKenzie Brown and Adelle Bruggeman).
Katie Powell enters her fourth year on the Irish coaching staff after making a run to the 2016 NCAA Quarterfinals and reaching the NCAA Championship for the program’s fifth consecutive year. Powell and the Irish finished the 2016 season with a 14-7 overall record and a 4-3 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
During her time at Notre Dame, the Irish have led their conference in caused turnovers each season. The 2016 squad featured three IWLCA All-Americans: Cortney Fortunato (first team), Barbara Sullivan (first team) and Casey Pearsall (third team). Three Irish players landed on the Tewaaraton Watch List, including two-time Tewaaraton Trophy finalist Barbara Sullivan. In 2015, Sullivan became Notre Dame’s first-ever defensive finalist for the Tewaaraton Trophy. Among other accolades awarded to Irish players, Margaret Smith was named a Tewaaraton Trophy nominee and the co-Defensive Player of the Year nationally following Powell’s first season.
Powell spent three seasons at James Madison as the associate head coach and defensive coordinator. While with the Dukes, Powell helped JMU win the 2011 Colonial Athletic Association Championship to secure an automatic berth in the NCAA Championship. She helped mentor four all-CAA defenders, including Cally Chakrian, who twice earned a spot on the IWLCA All-South second team and was named the 2012 CAA Defensive Player of the Year.
The 2007 George Mason alum helped the Dukes' defense rank in the top 30 nationally for scoring defenses in all three seasons, including a No. 9 ranking during the aforementioned 2011 season. In addition to her on-the-field coaching duties, Powell was the recruiting coordinator, the director of camps, clinics and fundraising and planned the travel for the team during the season among many other tasks.
Before coaching at James Madison, Powell spent three seasons at Boston University (2008-10) as an assistant coach and defensive coordinator. While in Boston, Powell helped the Terriers to three America East championships and three appearances in the NCAA Championship. She coached four all-conference performers, three IWLCA All-North Region players in Rachel Collins, Corcoran Downey and Kelly Munroe and a developmental participant on the U.S. National Team in Munroe.
Similar to JMU, Powell coached the defense to impressive national rankings as all three squads were ranked in the top 20 for scoring defense, including a high of No. 8 in 2008. Powell also played a key role in the program's recruiting and camps and clinics.
A Notre Dame alumna, Maggie Smith joined the Irish coaching staff in the summer of 2016 after spending two years as an assistant coach at Stetson University.
Smith served as the lone assistant coach for the Hatters in 2015. She was responsible for coordinating the team’s recruiting efforts, academic advising and operations. In addition to her role as assistant coach, Smith served as interim head coach for eight games in 2016 while Stetson's head coach served her maternity leave. Smith led Stetson to four of its five wins during the 2016 season.
Smith was a two-time team captain of the Irish, and as a senior in 2014, was named both a first-team All-American by the IWLCA and the co-National Defender of the Year by Inside Lacrosse. Smith led the ACC in 2014 with both 64 ground balls and 43 caused turnovers, ranking among the top 10 nationally in each category. Smith finished her Irish career as the school record holder with 122 caused turnovers and ranked third with 151 career draw controls.
Smith was thrice named all-region while at Notre Dame and also earned three all-conference citations, two first-team All-BIG EAST accolades (2012 and 2013) and a second-team All-ACC honor (2014). Smith was also a Tewaaraton Award nominee in 2014.
A native of Westminster, Maryland, Smith was a high school standout at McDonough School where she was named a U.S. Lacrosse All-American and played in the Under Armour All-American Game. She received her bachelor's degree in sociology and peace studies from Notre Dame in 2014.