Notre Dame topples third-seeded Wake Forest in NCAA second round
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Freshman forward Crystal Thomas scored with 19:35 remaining to lift Notre Dame to a 2-1 victory against third-seeded Wake Forest in the second round of the NCAA Championship on Friday.
With the win, Notre Dame will face second-seeded Florida in a round-of-16 match on Sunday.
Thomas got an assist from junior midfielder Mandy Laddish, shooting the ball past Wake Forest goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe inside the far left post for her 10th goal of the season.
Freshman forward Cari Roccaro scored the game-tying goal for Notre Dame (15-5-2) in the 59th minute. Freshman defender Brittany Von Rueden served a corner kick to midfielder Glory Williams who settled the ball at the penalty spot with a quick pass to Roccaro at the six-yard box. Roccaro then made a shot through traffic into the Demon Deacons' net for her sixth goal of the season.
Freshman goalkeeper Elyse Hight earned the victory in the Notre Dame net, registering two saves.
The Demon Deacons (14-6-3) finished with a 9-6 edge in total shots, including a 3-2 margin in shots on goal. Wake Forest also earned a 7-4 advantage on corner kicks, while the Fighting Irish were whistled for 10 of the 16 fouls in the match.
"We certainly want to say congratulations to Wake Forest," Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. "What a great year they had and they are a fantastic team. It was a really big win for us and we are extremely proud of the way our kids came out after halftime. A few adjustments were made and we are just happy to move on with the young group.
"I think at halftime we were a little disappointed that we did not get more in the first half, but I felt like the most dangerous opportunities they had were off some corners that we gave up," Waldrum said. "At halftime, we just made the conscious decision to say, `let's go ahead and go for this now, instead of wait.' We just needed to be able to keep the ball and be a little bit better in the offensive forward. I thought as soon as that happened, Cari Roccaro really did a good job of keeping the ball for us. Then we gained from the move to rotate and put Crystal Thomas back in. One of the things we talked about on the sideline is `she is our leading scorer this year, let's get her back on.' I thought she had a much better second half for us."
In the eighth minute of play, Jackie Logue drove a header that was tipped by Hight and then swept off the line by Thomas. The rebound caromed out to Kim Marshall near the top of the box, but her shot went over the touch line for a goal kick.
Notre Dame's best chance of the opening 45 minutes came when junior midfielder Elizabeth Tucker found sophomore midfielder Karin Simonian on the right side. Simonian curled a cross that was deflected back to her. Tucker continued her run and found space for a header, but it went wide to the right.
The Demon Deacons finally broke the ice in the 43rd minute, when Alisha Woodson sent a pass back towards the top of the attacking third. Katie Stengel dribbled to the goal where Hight came hard off her line to try and grab the ball, but could not get possession. Kristen Meier ran on the ball and chip it over the Notre Dame goalkeeper and into the empty net.
In the second half, Roccaro tied the score at one off the Von Rueden corner kick.
In the 70th minute, Thomas raced on to Laddish's kick to seal the game-winning goal and send the Fighting Irish to the next round of the NCAA tournament. Thomas is the first freshman to score 10 or more goals in a season since 2008.