GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Notre Dame (16-5-2, 8-1-1 Big East) scored a goal in each half, ending No. 2 regional seed Florida’s (19-5-1, 11-2 SEC) season with a 2-0 loss in the NCAA Round of 16 Sunday at the James G. Pressly Stadium.
Notre Dame advances to next weekend’s NCAA quarterfinals to face the region’s top seed, Florida State, a 4-0 winner against Texas A&M in Tallahassee Sunday afternoon.
Notre Dame scored in the 20th minute off its only corner kick of the match. The ball sent in by Brittany Von Rueden found junior Rebecca Twining at the middle of the six-yard box where she placed in a low header for her third goal of the season.
The Irish got an insurance goal in the 70th minute off a turnover in the Gators’ defensive third. Sophomore Lauren Bohaboy received the ball at the top of the box and drove along the 18-yard line. Her diagonal shot scored at the far post to put Notre Dame up 2-0.
Florida dominated possession in the early going of the match and had its chances in the opening half. In the eighth minute, sophomore Annie Speese’s shot hit the post. Senior Holly King got a head on a corner kick in the 24th minute, but her shot was high. With seconds remaining in the half, Notre Dame’s goalkeeper Elyse Hight got a hand on Erika Tymrak 28-yard free kick to push it over the crossbar for a Gator corner kick.
Not converting on the Gators’ early chances added to the team’s pressure, Florida head coach Becky Burleigh said.
“I think early in the game we had some really great opportunities that, if you score those, that changes things tremendously. I think the longer a game goes on, and particularly when you’re chasing a game, the pressure gets higher and higher and that makes what we do more and more difficult,” Burleigh said. “The game was probably hinged a little bit on the fact that we didn’t finish our chances early. That could have changed the whole complexion of the game.”
Hight turned in four saves Sunday which including getting a hand on a Tymrak shot from 20 yards in the 59th minute. Late in the match Tessa Andujar beat her marker on the right flank and the ball she sent to the middle of the box found Adriana Leon. The shot Leon took was also stopped by Hight.
Notre Dame was the first team to score a pair of goals against the Gators since the opening match of the Southeastern Conference season on Sept. 16.
“Credit to Notre Dame for coming and putting two goals in the back of the net. That’s something that hasn’t happened to us in quite some time,” Burleigh said. “Best of luck to them as they advance.”
Sunday’s result ends the Florida careers for seniors McKenzie Barney, Jo Dragotta, King, Tymrak and Kathryn Williamson. They finish with a four-year record of 71-21-6, which currently ranks among the nation’s top five for total wins. Florida advanced to the NCAA Championships’ field each year during their careers and they were part of SEC Championship teams in 2009, 2010 and 2012.