Lacrosse April 2011 : Page 58

Baby Sister Age is just a number for Cortney Fortunato, the youngest player on the U.S. Under-19 team By Clare Lochary C At just 15, Northport (N.Y.) High School attacker Cortney Fortunato is the “Baby Sister” of Team USA. 58 LACROSSE MAGAZINE >> April 2011 A Publication of US Lacrosse ©SCOTT MCCALL ortney Fortunato stands out on the lacrosse field. She always has. The attacker was just a seventh grader when she was plucked from her local PAL team and promoted to high school varsity, in one of the most competitive leagues in the nation. “I knew if I put a stick in her hand, the sky was the limit,” said Carol Rainson-Rose, head coach at Northport (N.Y.) High School. “I just think of her and I see this big Kool-Aid smile. She’s the cutest thing. She’s very sweet, and she’s very compassionate. She has that nice soft side to her, and on the field she’s a warrior.” Fortunato stands out even among the nation’s best. There were 187 girls at the first round of the U.S. Under-19 team tryouts last summer, but when offensive coordinator Megan Clark saw Fortunato, she knew right away that the versatile attacker was a great fit for the aggressive offense she wanted for the 2011 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) U19 World Championships. “I kept going, ‘This kid’s got to be on the team,’” Clark said. “She was my No. 1 attacker, the first true attacker in the field where I was like, ‘Yes.’” Head coach Krystin Porcella agreed with Clark’s assessment. “Whenever she had the ball on offense, she had her head up. She

Baby Sister

Clare Lochary

Age is just a number for Cortney Fortunato, the youngest player on the U. S. Under-19 team<br /> <br /> Cortney Fortunato stands out on the lacrosse field. She always has. The attacker was just a seventh grader when she was plucked from her local PAL team and promoted to high school varsity, in one of the most competitive leagues in the nation.<br /> <br /> “I knew if I put a stick in her hand, the sky was the limit,” said Carol Rainson- Rose, head coach at Northport (N.Y.) High School. “I just think of her and I see this big Kool-Aid smile. She’s the cutest thing. She’s very sweet, and she’s very compassionate. She has that nice soft side to her, and on the field she’s a warrior.”<br /> <br /> Fortunato stands out even among the nation’s best. There were 187 girls at the first round of the U.S. Under-19 team tryouts last summer, but when offensive coordinator Megan Clark saw Fortunato, she knew right away that the versatile attacker was a great fit for the aggressive offense she wanted for the 2011 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) U19 World Championships.<br /> <br /> “I kept going, ‘This kid’s got to be on the team,’” Clark said. “She was my No. 1 attacker, the first true attacker in the field where I was like, ‘Yes.’”<br /> <br /> Head coach Krystin Porcella agreed with Clark’s assessment.<br /> <br /> “Whenever she had the ball on offense, she had her head up. She Was looking for her opportunity, or looking for a way to create for a teammate,” Porcella said.<br /> <br /> What the coaching staff didn’t realize was that Fortunato was only 15 and had just completed her freshman year of high school. Last summer also saw her lead the Yellow Jackets (N.Y.) club team, likewise coached by Rainson-Rose, to an unbeaten run through the US Lacrosse U15 National Championship.<br /> <br /> Fortunato is now the youngest person on the 18-player U19 roster, which includes three juniors and 14 seniors. While the sophomore attacker is the baby of the bunch, she is so accustomed to competing against older players that her age hardly even registers.<br /> <br /> “Honestly, I really don’t think about it too much,” Fortunato said. “Being on the USA team with all the other girls doesn’t really faze me too much. I think I fit in pretty well. I’m just used to playing with older people.”<br /> <br /> Her talent and work ethic are such that age has never been an issue, athletically or socially, with teammates. Fortunato credits much of her success to Rainson-Rose and the Northport upperclassmen who accepted her unconditionally when she was just a skinny seventh grader trying to hang with the high school girls. Lacey Vigmostad, who was a senior during Fortunato’s first season on the Tigers’ varsity team, remembers her as a “sweetheart” who threw herself into the die-hard work ethic that Rainson-Rose requires.<br /> <br /> “There was never any hostility [about having a middle schooler on the team], because not only did Cortney have the natural athletic ability, but she put in the work,” said Vigmostad, now a junior defender at Northwestern. “It was well-deserved. She came to stick-work sessions, and she really went out of her way to do extra things to bring her play up to the level of someone else’s. She just learned what she could and excelled at it. It was a really cool thing to see, and I think it pushed the older players to be better, too.”<br /> <br /> Fortunato seems to inspire devotion in her peers; it was another Northport attacker, Shannon Gilroy, who Encouraged her to try out for Team USA.<br /> <br /> “I wanted her to be on my team again,” said Gilroy, also a U19 player. “We’ve known each other a long time, and we work well together.”<br /> <br /> Fortunato’s Team USA cohorts still call her Baby Sister, but in terms of experience, she is a confident, versatile veteran. She is playing in her fourth varsity season for Northport, and she wants the 2011 Tigers to break through stalwarts like Farmingdale and Garden City, win LICs (Long Island Championships) and take a stab at a state title. She’s grown six inches in those four years (she went from barely 5 feet tall to her current height of 5’6”). She got her braces off in December, a development she calls “very exciting.” She’s also very excited to get to Hannover, Germany, and play for the red, white and blue.<br /> <br /> “It’s just such an honor knowing that you’re one of the select few to represent your country. When you put your jersey on and you see USA across your chest, it’s absolutely indescribable,” Fortunato said.<br /> <br /> “It’s a little pressure, but I just can’t wait for Germany.”<br /> <br /> TEAM USA ADDS ALTERNATE, NAMES TRIMBLE CAPTAIN<br /> <br /> US Lacrosse has named midfielder Dani Lazo (Stevensville, Md./ St. Mary’s ‘11) to the U. S. Under-19 team as a traveling alternate. She will join the squad on its August trip to Hannover, Germany, for the 2011 Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) U19 World Championship. Lazo signed a National Letter of Intent in November to play lacrosse at the University of Louisville next season.<br /> <br /> Midfielder Taylor Trimble (Rosemont, Pa./Episcopal Academy ‘11) has been named the team captain, as announced by head coach Krystin Porcella.Trimble helped the team to wins over Jacksonville University and Rollins College in the Champion Challenge, a US Lacrosse event, in January.<br /> <br /> Team USA will compete in the US Lacrosse Women’s National Tournament May 28-29 at Stony Brook University in preparation for the Aug. 3-14 FIL championship.<br /> <br /> US Lacrosse manages all aspects of the men’s and women’s national teams. You can make a tax-deductible, secure online donation to support the 2011 U.S. U19 team by visiting https://secure.uslacrosse.org/2011uswu19.

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