Sept. 3, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Notre Dame senior forward Rose Augustin (Silver Lake, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) scored just 3:05 into the match and the No. 3/4 Fighting Irish made it stand up, blanking No. 8/9 Santa Clara, 1-0 on the opening night of the 18th annual Inn at Saint Mary’s Classic before a raucous crowd of 2,229 fans, including a large student contingent, on a cool and damp Friday at Alumni Stadium.
Junior forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) set up Augustin’s goal with a brilliant drop pass at the top of the box, with Augustin running on to the ball at full speed and rocketing a low shot past Santa Clara goalkeeper Bianca Henninger. It marked the second time in as many matches (and third in six contests dating back to last season) that Henderson set up Augustin for a score.
Senior goalkeeper Nikki Weiss (Redding, Conn./Immaculate) registered her third shutout of the season behind a career-high seven saves, including four in the second half. Henninger was credited with six stops in the Santa Clara net.
Notre Dame (3-0-0) finished with a 16-13 edge in total shots, with the teams each recording seven shots on goal. The Broncos earned a 5-4 margin in corner kicks, while SCU (2-1-1) was whistled for 17 of the 27 fouls on the night.
“This was definitely our strongest overall effort of the season,” Fighting Irish head coach Randy Waldrum said. “I thought our possession game was very good, especially in the first half. We did have a bit of a lull in the first 10-15 minutes of the second half, but we kept our composure and were able to get back to our game plan the rest of the way. In fact, we also had some really quality chances after the first goal that we just didn’t quite finish.
“Our midfielders had a particularly good night controlling the action for us, which is notable when you consider we’ve got two freshmen (Mandy Laddish and Elizabeth Tucker) and a converted back (junior Molly Campbell) playing in there,” he added. “When they did get into our defensive third, our back line did a good job of keeping them from getting a ton of really threatening looks, and Nikki (Weiss) was solid handling the chances she saw.
“I also want to send a huge thanks to our crowd tonight — they were absolutely tremendous,” Waldrum concluded. “Our students really turned out in numbers, led by our new supporters’ group, The Rakes of Mallow, and created a truly special soccer atmosphere. It means a lot to our players to see that kind of support from their peers and it’s another big step in adding to what we already believe is one of the great college soccer environments in the country.”
After Augustin’s opening score, Notre Dame kept up its steady offensive pressure, with Tucker and senior defender Lauren Fowlkes (Lee’s Summit, Mo./St. Teresa’s Academy) testing Henninger in the first 20 minutes. Santa Clara came back and did have some opportunities in the latter stages of the opening half, with the Broncos’ best chance coming just past the 39-minute mark, when Julie Johnston got loose on the right flank and whipped a rising shot that skimmed off the top of the crossbar and out of play.
SCU came back with renewed energy in the second half, which began under deteriorating weather conditions as a late summer shower drenched the pitch for the better part of the first quarter-hour after the intermission. The Broncos pushed the Fighting Irish back on their heels during that stretch, but Notre Dame didn’t break despite allowing four Santa Clara shots on goal in the opening 11 minutes. SCU’s Kendra Perry had her team’s best chance of the night in the 53rd minute with a drive from just inside the top of the box that was ticketed for the top left corner of the net. However, Weiss backpedaled and stretched to the limit of her 5-foot-11 frame to tip the ball over the crossbar and out of danger.
After Fighting Irish hearts got a jump start with that near-miss, Notre Dame took control for the balance of the final half-hour of the match. Augustin had a pair of good looks, with Henninger stopping one and another drive whistling just over the bar. Tucker also nearly set up an insurance goal when she outraced Henninger to a loose ball at the left edge of the penalty area, but with the Santa Clara net vacated, Tucker’s cross into the goalmouth was just behind on-rushing senior midfielder Erica Iantorno (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale) and was cleared by the Broncos’ defense. Yet, SCU could not mount a threat down the stretch, as the Fighting Irish held the Broncos without a shot during the closing 20 minutes to preserve the victory.
In Friday’s opening match at the Inn at Saint Mary’s Classic, Texas Tech scored twice in the opening 23 minutes to earn a 2-0 victory over Ole Miss at Alumni Stadium.
Notre Dame will return to the pitch at 1:30 p.m. (ET) Sunday when it plays host to Texas Tech at Alumni Stadium on the second day of the Inn at Saint Mary’s Classic. In Sunday’s tournament opener, Santa Clara will take on Ole Miss at 11 a.m. (ET), also at Alumni Stadium.
Season and single-game tickets for the 2010 Notre Dame soccer campaign are available by contacting the Murnane Family Ticket Office by phone (574-631-7356) or in person (Gate 9 in the new Rosenthal Atrium at Purcell Pavilion) weekdays from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET). Fans also can purchase tickets on-line through the tickets page of the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.UND.com/tickets) or by visiting the ticket windows at Alumni Stadium on game day.
For more information on the Notre Dame women’s soccer program, join the Fighting Irish women’s soccer news Twitter page (www.twitter.com/NDsoccernews) or sign up for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the sidebar on the women’s soccer page at UND.com