Oct. 2, 2010

Courtesy of Notre Dame Athletics

NOTRE DAME, Ind. -
Junior forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) scored two goals for the second consecutive match, and freshman midfielder Elizabeth Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) netted the third game-winning goal of her rookie season as No. 5/7 Notre Dame rolled to a 3-0 BIG EAST Conference victory over Syracuse on Friday night at Alumni Stadium. The win extends Notre Dame's NCAA Division I-record unbeaten streak against conference opponents to 70 consecutive matches (67-0-3), with the Fighting Irish also stretching their home winning streak to 20 in a row.

Notre Dame (10-1, 4-0 BIG EAST) rang up a season-high 27-1 shot advantage over Syracuse, including a 13-1 edge in shots on goal. The Fighting Irish also took all 10 corner kicks in the match (also a season best), while the Orange were whistled for 14 of the 22 combined fouls and added to their conference-leading yellow card total with three more bookings on Friday.

In addition to the massive shot discrepancy, Notre Dame spread around the offensive wealth, with a season-high four players recorded assists in the match. Junior defender/co-captain Jessica Schuveiller (Plano, Texas/Plano West) set up Tucker's decisive score, with a trio of seniors -- forward Rose Augustin (Silver Lake, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit), defender Julie Scheidler (Indianapolis, Ind./Bishop Chatard) and forward Erica Iantorno (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale) -- combining to create Henderson's two goals.

Senior goalkeeper Nikki Weiss (Redding, Conn./Immaculate) didn't see a whole lot of action on the night, but did turn aside the one Syracuse shot on goal during her 87-plus minutes between the pipes. For the third consecutive match, sophomore netminder Maddie Fox (San Jose, Calif./Leigh) spelled Weiss late in the contest and was not tested in preserving Notre Dame's ninth shutout in 11 matches this season.

Syracuse rookie goalkeeper Brittany Anghel kept the scoreboard from being even more lopsided with eight saves, while she also benefited from a pair of clearances off the line by her defense and a generous carom off the right post on another first-half shot.

"For the most part, I was pleased with our performance tonight," Fighting Irish head coach Randy Waldrum said. "We know we're going to see many different tactical approaches throughout the season, and it's up to our players to recognize those different styles and understand how to attack them. Syracuse clearly came out with a defensive mindset, and it took a little while for us to break through it, but our possession and poise were strong in that early going and I was happy with the way we kept our composure when we could have gotten frustrated with all of the close misses. Our sharpness disappeared a little in the first part of the second half, and that's something we'll address, but we did a solid job of regaining control of the pace of play and closing out the night on our terms."

From the outset, it was readily apparent Syracuse (5-5-3, 2-2) had little interest in pushing forward into the attacking third, as Notre Dame kept the Orange bottled up in their half of the field with a steady barrage of shots on goal. In fact, the Fighting Irish unleashed 10 shots in the first 21 minutes, including five on goal, with Anghel making three saves, SU midfielder Tina Romagnuolo sweeping Augustin's eighth-minute shot off the line after Anghel knocked down Henderson's initial foray, and Notre Dame senior Taylor Knaack (Arlington, Texas/Martin) being denied by the woodwork on a blast in the box in the 21st minute. Henderson had four shots in the opening 11 minutes, including three on frame that had Anghel scrambling hither and yon to keep her sheet unblemished.

The offensive pressure paid off for the Fighting Irish in the 27th minute, as Schuveiller latched on to a ball on the left flank, drove to the end line and smartly cut past her defender at the edge of the penalty area. She then whipped a cross back into the goal mouth, where Tucker was unmarked eight yards out and cracked a hard low shot underneath a charging Anghel into the net (26:12).

After the goal, Syracuse let up slightly on its defensive posture and did start to make some in-roads on the attacking end. However, the threats were largely gobbled up by a hungry Notre Dame retaining line that had Weiss primarily relegated to taking goal kicks for the balance of the first half. The Orange did get credit for their one and only shot of the night in the 40th minute when substitute Amanda Morris made a wishful try from well outside the box that skipped harmlessly into Weiss' waiting arms.

Syracuse modified its tactics coming out of the locker room and had some longer runs of possession, but the visitors never seriously threatened the Notre Dame net in the second half. Meanwhile, it took the Fighting Irish the first 15 minutes of the period to untangle the Orange defensive puzzle, but the answer came just before the hour mark. Scheidler tracked down a failed Syracuse clearance in the right channel and served a dangerous cross near the top of the box. Augustin rose up and flicked a header onto the back side, where Henderson had gotten behind her defender and quickly drilled a low shot from 10 yards out inside the right post (59:35).

Henderson then capped the night's festivities in the 86th minute, running on to a long left-side service by Iantorno and beating Anghel low into the right corner of the net (85:45).

Notre Dame continues its four-match homestand at noon (ET) Sunday, playing host to St. John's at Alumni Stadium. The match will be televised live to a national cable audience by CBS College Sports, with a live audio broadcast, in-progress stats and a live blog also available through the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.UND.com).