Notre Dame Crunch North Carolina, 4-1
Nov. 21, 2010
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -
Courtesy of Notre Dame Athletics
Senior forward/midfielder Rose Augustin (Silver Lake, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) collected a goal and two assists, and junior forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) added a goal and an assist, as the No. 7/10 Notre Dame women's soccer team advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship for the seventh consecutive season with a clinical 4-1 victory over No. 3/4 (and top-seeded) North Carolina in an NCAA third-round match on Saturday night at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, N.C.
Seeded fourth in their quadrant of the NCAA bracket, the Fighting Irish (18-2-2) will move on to face No. 6 (and third-seeded) Oklahoma State in the NCAA quarterfinals at 7 p.m. CT/8 p.m. ET Friday at the Cowgirl Soccer Complex in Stillwater, Okla. It will be just the second all-time meeting between Notre Dame and OSU, with the Cowgirls earning a 2-1 overtime win at Notre Dame's old Alumni Field on Sept. 16, 2007.
Saturday's win over two-time defending national champion North Carolina was notable for numerous reasons, particularly due to the offensive eruption the Fighting Irish produced on the Tar Heels' home turf. In fact, it was the first time UNC lost a match by multiple goals since Nov. 24, 1985, when the Tar Heels dropped a 2-0 decision at George Mason (a run of 607 matches), and the first time UNC had ever yielded four goals on its home pitch to a college opponent. It also represented the most goals allowed by North Carolina in a single match during the NCAA era (1982-present), with Harvard the only college program ever to score more goals against the Tar Heels, posting a 5-3 win over UNC on Nov. 16, 1980, at the AIAW Invitational in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Junior co-captain/defender Jessica Schuveiller (Plano, Texas/Plano West) continued her uncanny ability to score critical goals, netting her fourth career score (all gamewinners) and first of the season in the 33rd minute. Junior midfielder Ellen Jantsch (Kansas City, Mo./St. Teresa's Academy) capped the Fighting Irish scoring with her second goal of the year in the 77th minute.
Crystal Dunn scored the lone UNC goal on Saturday night, potting her ninth of the season off a Ranee Premji assist in the 19th minute to temporarily knot the score at 1-1.
Senior goalkeeper Nikki Weiss (Redding, Conn./Immaculate) turned in a virtuoso performance in the Notre Dame net on Saturday, registering five saves, including two huge second-half stops to help keep North Carolina at arm's length. Sophomore Maddie Fox (San Jose, Calif./Leigh) came on to spell Weiss in the final minute and complete the victory.
UNC (19-3-2) finished with a 15-9 shot advantage in the match, including a slim 6-5 edge in shots on goal. The Tar Heels also had the upper hand on corner kicks, 8-5, while fouls were even at 10-10, and Notre Dame was assessed two of the three yellow cards on the night.
The Fighting Irish traditionally have played well at Fetzer Field through the years, entering Saturday's match with a 5-1 record at the UNC facility, including a 3-1 mark against the Tar Heels. Notre Dame also had won both prior contests at North Carolina in the NCAA Championship (1-0 in the 1995 national semifinal, and 3-2 in a similar round-of-16 match in 2007), as well as a 1-0 regular-season meeting early in 2008, so the Fighting Irish were in the rare position of being an opponent that was not awed by UNC's historic pedigree.
Playing with poise, purpose and passion, Notre Dame took the fight to North Carolina right from the opening kickoff. However, sometimes it takes a dash of good fortune to get a team off and running in the postseason, and that's exactly what the Fighting Irish got in the 13th minute. Schuveiller teed up a free kick from just inside the midfield stripe with the looping service headed straight for UNC keeper Hannah Daly, but she bobbled the ball in the middle of the penalty box. Augustin was in the right place at the right time and buried the loose change into the empty net for a 1-0 Notre Dame lead at 12:49, marking the 11th time this season (and second consecutive NCAA tournament match) in which the Fighting Irish have scored inside the opening 15 minutes of play.
North Carolina bounced back well after that early score and got the equalizer less than six minutes later. Premji found Dunn at the edge of the Notre Dame attacking third, with Dunn moving to her left to create additional space. She then uncorked a sharp 20-yard left-footed shot that eluded a diving Weiss and nestled low into the far right-side netting at 18:15.
Many teams would have been rocked by such a quick response to an early score, but the Fighting Irish aren't your average team, and they came back with an answer of their own just past the half-hour mark. Notre Dame won a pair of corner kicks, with Augustin's second try from the far left corner flag landing among a group of players in the six-yard box. From there, it was a frantic scramble to see who could get a touch on the ball first, with Schuveiller winning the lottery with a timely toe-poke for the go-ahead goal at 32:13 -- Augustin was credited with the assist on the play.
After the teams played evenly for the remainder of the first half without an additional score, North Carolina came back from the locker room determined to defend their home turf and regain the upper hand. Yet, it was the Fighting Irish who would get the all-important third goal early in the second half.
The sequence began with a puzzling and overly-aggressive foul by UNC's Amber Brooks on Augustin near the midfield line, resulting in a yellow card for Brooks. Augustin then drove the ensuing free kick all the way to the top of the penalty area, with the ball bouncing untouched before Henderson went high with her back to goal and blindly headed the ball inside the right post for her team-leading 17th goal of the season at 48:27.
With a two-goal advantage, it was Weiss' turn to make some big plays to keep her team in front. As the clock rolled past the 60-minute mark, the Fighting Irish netminder had to be exceptionally sharp, as Tar Heel rookie Kealia Ohai picked off an errant clearance and had a 1-v-1 opportunity with Weiss from 10 yards out, but the veteran was equal to the task, diving low to her left to knock down the shot and allow her to jump on the rebound before any further danger emerged.
Eight minutes later, North Carolina fashioned a three-shot flurry from near point-blank range in the midst of the penalty box, but Weiss and the Notre Dame defense stood tall. Weiss rebuffed Rachel Wood's shot, with the rebound caroming out to Alyssa Rich, who had her first try blocked and her second scoring bid from eight yards out parried over the bar, courtesy of a brilliant reflex save from Weiss.
The Tar Heels continued to press the attack in an effort to get back in the match, but the offensive pressure left the hosts vulnerable to a counterattack and Notre Dame exploited that breach for the clinching score with less than a quarter-hour to play. Freshman midfielder Mandy Laddish (Lee's Summit, Mo./Lee's Summit) won a ball near the center circle and served a ball down the left flank for Henderson, who angled toward the edge of the box. She then slipped a precision cross into the goalmouth, where Jantsch alertly crashed the net and simply had to re-direct the ball into the UNC net at 76:42, ending any remaining suspense in Saturday's match.
Notre Dame now prepares to head on the road in the NCAA quarterfinal round for the second consecutive season, following last year's match (and subsequent 2-0 win) at Florida State. This year's contest at Oklahoma State is expected to available via a free live video webcast on the official OSU athletics web site (www.okstate.com), while live stats and a live in-progress blog will be offered through the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.UND.com).
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.