May 2, 2013

Female Athlete of the Year: Laura Fortino

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After four years of tremendous accolades and lasting memories, the Lynah Faithful will say goodbye to three-time All American and Ivy League Player of the Year (2011), Laura Fortino.

Fortino made an immediate impact on the Red in her freshman campaign, recording 13 goals and 21 assists on the season. She was second in the country in scoring among all defensemen. Fortino’s stellar play throughout the season earned her first-team All American honors, making her the first Cornell women’s hockey player ever to do so.

“Even as four years has gone by, that honor still makes me speechless,” Fortino said. “It’s such a prestigious award to be given and I was very humbled as a freshman to be recognized.”

Only a rookie that season, Fortino said she was unsure of what to expect out of collegiate level hockey, and her teammates gave her the support she needed to excel.

“I can’t thank my teammates enough for making me the player I am today,” Fortino said. “As a freshman, I didn’t really know what to expect, I didn’t even know that award existed. To understand now the significance of that award, it’s unbelievable.”

Though Fortino’s next three years playing on Lynah rink were just as successful, she still considers the Red’s trip to the Frozen Four her freshman year to be her fondest memory. After starting off that season with two losses to Mercyhurst, the Red went on a tear, winning 14 conference games and eventually beating Clarkson in overtime in the ECAC championship to advance to the NCAA Tournament.

“[I still remember] that entire year, the frozen four run that we had, making it to the final game and going to triple overtime. Even though we lost, I enjoy that moment like we won it,” Fortino said. “We weren’t even projected to go anywhere, and to make it to the top was just a whirlwind of an experience.”

In her senior season, Fortino helped the Red to another ECAC championship. Her strong defensive presence led the Cornell defense to the second-fewest goals allowed in the ECAC. However, the team’s season ended with an overtime loss to Mercyhurst in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

In addition to leading the Red throughout her four years, Fortino also played for both the U18 and U22 Canadian National teams. She won a silver medal for Canada at the IIHF World Championship this March.

Though Fortino’s time at Lynah has come to an end, her career as a hockey player is still in full swing. Fortino will head to Calgary in May for fitness testing and orientation, hoping to earn a spot on the roster for Canada’s Olympic team.

“It’s always an honor and a privilege to represent your country, especially for women,” Fortino said. “There is no NHL or higher leagues, so it’s basically for the love of the game.”

Original Author: Scott Chiusano