Oct. 3, 2009

Courtesy of Notre Dame

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Junior forward Taylor Knaack (Arlington, Texas/Martin) scored her first goal of the season on a goalmouth scramble 41 seconds into overtime, giving No. 10/8 Notre Dame a thrilling 3-2 BIG EAST Conference win at West Virginia before a raucous crowd of 1,382 fans on a rainy Friday night at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in Morgantown, W.Va.

The victory extends the Fighting Irish unbeaten streak against BIG EAST opponents to 56 consecutive games (54-0-2), breaking North Carolina's Division I record set during Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play from 1994-2000. Notre Dame began the streak exactly four years ago with a 4-0 victory at South Florida on Oct. 2, 2005.

Sophomore forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) and senior defender Haley Ford (Midland, Texas/Midland) also scored for Notre Dame, while junior midfielder Rose Augustin (Silver Lake, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) collected her team-high fourth assist of the season on Henderson's tally, and had uncredited assists to set up the other two goals.

Senior goalkeeper Kelsey Lysander (San Diego, Calif./Rancho Bernardo) picked up the victory in the Fighting Irish net, tying her season high with four saves. Notre Dame ended up outshooting West Virginia, 13-11, while shots on goal were even at six apiece. There were only three corner kicks in the contest, with the host Mountaineers earning two.

"That was a great result for us tonight, and full credit goes to everyone up and down the roster because they all contributed to this win," Fighting Irish head coach Randy Waldrum said. "We didn't hang our heads when we fell behind early in the second half, and didn't let the weather or the crowd affect us at all. It's a sign of a maturing team that they can come into a tough place like this against a really good West Virginia and come away with a positive result.

"To be honest, none of us were really aware of the NCAA record until it came up after last weekend's Louisville game," Waldrum continued. "It certainly says a lot that we've been able to enjoy that kind of success over an extended period in a strong conference like the BIG EAST. It's also a tribute to the players that have come through this program during the past four years because this record belongs to them as much as any of our current players."

Notre Dame (8-3, 4-0 BIG EAST) was making its first visit to Morgantown since the 2007 BIG EAST Championship, when the Fighting Irish played West Virginia to a 1-1 double-overtime tie in the tournament final before the Mountaineers claimed the conference title on penalty kicks.

It didn't take long for the visitors to get on the scoreboard (and for the wet conditions to come into play) on this night, as junior forward Lauren Fowlkes (Lee's Summit, Mo./St. Teresa's Academy) played a ball from her half of the field over the top for Henderson in the middle of the offensive third. Henderson settled the ball and ran a textbook give-and-go with Augustin in the left channel, with Henderson firing a wobbly 12-yard shot that handcuffed WVU goalkeeper Kerri Butler, squirting through her hands and into the left-side netting just 4:24 into the contest. It was Henderson's team-leading sixth goal of the season.

West Virginia (4-4-4, 1-2-1) had its first offensive push of the night in the 17th minute, as Megan Mischler dispossessed Ford in the right channel 35 yards from goal. She then drove into the right side of the box and uncorked a low shot from 10 yards away that Lysander gloved just wide of the right post.

After the first-half media timeout (the game was televised live to a national cable audience by ESPNU), the Fighting Irish had another scoring chance, as sophomore defender/tri-captain Jessica Schuveiller (Plano, Texas/Plano West) lofted a perfectly-timed pass to Fowlkes behind the Mountaineer defense. However, Butler quickly raced off her line and just beat the onrushing Notre Dame attacker, clearing it off Fowlkes and over the touch line for a goal kick.

WVU started to turn up the pressure in the final 15 minutes of the first half, earning its first corner kick, as well as a dangerous free kick on the right side, but Lysander was equal to the task in both cases. Yet, the Mountaineers were relentless and it eventually paid off with 6:57 to go in the period.

Carolyn Blank began the scoring sequence with a wicked 35-yard left-footed shot that kept rising and rang hard off the crossbar. The ball caromed to the left side of the penalty area, where Chelsey Corroto quickly headed it back through the six-yard box. Mischler was crashing the play and just beat Lysander to the ball with a sliding right-footed shot inside the right post.

Capitalizing on the momentum from its late first-half score, West Virginia cashed in with a second goal early in the second stanza. The play began innocently enough, as Blake Miller started a run down the right flank. She then cut back into the channel and drilled a low left-footed shot from 25 yards out towards the right post. Lysander appeared to be tracking the shot all the way, but as she slid over for the save, her foot slipped on the wet turf and the ball sailed just inside the post at 48:51.

With the WVU fans working into a frenzy, Notre Dame never wavered and methodically built its way back up towards the tying goal. That score came at 64:11, and it started with Augustin's free kick from just inside the center circle on the offensive side of the field. Her long service pulled Butler into the gathering crowd, but the Mountaineer netminder's punch clearing attempt popped almost straight up in their air. Ford was in the right place at the right time and rose high to head the ball inside the untended far left post, knotting the score at 2-2.

The Fighting Irish had some tantalizing chances to retake the lead in the closing minutes of regulation. With under 16 minutes to play, junior defender Julie Scheidler (Indianapolis, Ind./Bishop Chatard) swung a cross in from the right side that was cleared, but right to Augustin at the top of the area. However, her one-time blast was inadvertently blocked by Fowlkes in the six-yard box, and cleared upfield. Schuveiller collected the clearance and went over the top for Augustin, who tagged up on-sides and tried a flying volley at the penalty spot, but the ball flew high over the bar.

Three minutes later, Knaack sent a pinpoint pass to freshman midfielder Lindsay Brown (Ladera Ranch, Calif./Mater Dei) running down the right flank. Brown cut back on her defender at the top right of the box and drove a curling left-footed shot that was ticketed for the upper left 90, only to be swatted away by a backpedaling Butler at the far post.

At the 2:15 mark, Augustin hit Henderson with a precision through-ball on the right side, and Henderson found herself with clear sailing to the WVU goal. However, she was run down by a pair of defenders in the middle of the penalty area, so she pivoted and slid a perfect cross through the six-yard box to Fowlkes on the back post, but the veteran's shot missed the mark.

Henderson created another excellent opportunity with under 90 seconds to play, as her service into the area connected perfectly with freshman forward Tereza Stastny (Calgary, Alberta/Bishop Carroll). Yet, Stastny's header clanged off the post and was swept away by the retreating Mountaineer defense, sending Notre Dame into its first overtime contest of the season.

The extra session barely lasted long enough for fans to return from the concession stands and restrooms. The Fighting Irish took the opening kickoff and worked the ball down into the left corner for a throw-in. Augustin took a short throw to sophomore defender Molly Campbell (Mission Hills, Kan./St. Teresa's Academy), who teed up a bending ball into the area. Fowlkes cut across the face of goal, possibly distracting Butler, who came diving out to play the ball, but couldn't corral it, instead steering it toward the far right post. Knaack and her defender went stride for stride for the ball at the right edge of the six-yard box, with Knaack just winning the race as the ball caromed off the inside of the post. She needed two pokes with her right foot, but Knaack was able to muscle the ball over the goal line and secure the comeback victory for the Fighting Irish.

Winners of a season-high five in a row, Notre Dame continues its four-game BIG EAST road trip Sunday with a 1 p.m. (ET) match against Pittsburgh at Founders Field in Indianola, Pa.

-- ND --

POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame continues its uncanny run of overtime success under head coach Randy Waldrum, now owning a 19-3-8 (.767) record in extra time since Waldrum arrived in South Bend in 1999, including a 5-0-1 mark in its last six OT contests ... Friday marked the first overtime contest for Notre Dame since Nov. 21, 2008, when Kerri Hanks scored on a penalty kick at 96:54 to give the Fighting Irish a 1-0 victory over Minnesota in the third round of the NCAA Championship at old Alumni Field ... this was the first road OT contest for Notre Dame since Oct. 12, 2008, when Augustin scored at 96:58 for a 3-2 win at Villanova ... Knaack's goal at 90:41 was the quickest overtime score in the 11-year Randy Waldrum era (and pending further research, it may be the fastest OT goal in Notre Dame women's soccer history) ... the Fighting Irish improve to 12-1-1 all-time against West Virginia (4-1-1 in Morgantown), earning their first win over the Mountaineers at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium in just over five years (3-1 on Oct. 1, 2004) ... Henderson's goal at 4:24 was the fastest opening score of the season for Notre Dame, six seconds quicker than Henderson's first goal on Sept. 6 vs. Wisconsin-Milwaukee at Alumni Stadium ... Notre Dame rises to 17-0 all-time when Henderson scores a goal, and 19-0 all-time when she registers a point ... Ford potted her second career goal, and her first this season; her only other tally came on Sept. 28, 2008, at Cincinnati, when she scored with 10:50 remaining in a 6-0 Notre Dame win ... Knaack also notched her first goal of the season, but the sixth of her career (first since Nov. 28, 2008, when she canned the all-important insurance goal in the 77th minute of a 2-0 win over sixth-ranked Florida State in the NCAA Championship quarterfinals at old Alumni Field) ... it may have taken overtime, but Notre Dame also adds to its amazing record when scoring three goals in a game -- the Fighting Irish now are 282-3-1 (.988) in such contests, including a 184-1 (.995) record since Oct. 6, 1995, when they dropped a 5-4 OT decision to Connecticut at old Alumni Field.