Women’s Soccer: Smoking Tobacco Road
Bill Brink | Tuesday, November 27, 2007
It took just over a year, but Notre Dame got its revenge against North Carolina.
Irish forward Michele Weissenhofer scored two goals and assisted forward Brittany Bock on a third, and Notre Dame beat the No. 1 Tar Heels 3-2 Saturday at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, N.C., in the NCAA Tournament round of 16.
The game was a rematch of last year’s NCAA championship game, which the Tar Heels won, 2-1. The teams later played to a 2-2 draw in an exhibition game before this season.
The win felt good for Irish senior keeper Lauren Karas, who said she had some unfinished business with the Tar Heels.
“I don’t want to say revenge, but I needed to reconcile what happened last year,” Karas said, who made five saves in the game. “It was nice to not lose to Carolina twice in my career.”
Irish coach Randy Waldrum said the team came a long way since last year’s championship loss.
“We were so different this time than we were in the championship last year,” Waldrum said. “Last year, I thought we underachieved, I thought we were intimidated, I thought we didn’t play up to the way I knew we could play.”
Before Saturday’s game, no team had scored three goals against North Carolina (19-4-1) in seven years. The Irish (18-4-2) also joined Santa Clara as the only two teams ever to defeat North Carolina more than twice.
The Irish jumped ahead in the 13th minute when they had a throw-in chance in their attacking third. Weissenhofer’s flip-throw carried the ball to the center of the penalty box, where Bock headed the ball in the far side of the net for her 15th goal of the season.
Bock, a junior, and Weissenhofer, a sophomore, are both from Naperville, Ill., and played together at Neuqua Valley High School. Bock said that playing with Weissenhofer for so long gave her a good idea of where the throw-in would land.
Weissenhofer, in turn, said she aimed for the middle of the penalty box as well as for Bock in particular.
“I try and look for Bock to see where she is,” Weissenhofer said.
Bock said she came free and had a clear path to the ball.
“I kind of just drifted away, no one was really man-marking me,” Bock said.
Just 14 seconds later, a miscue by North Carolina keeper Ashlyn Harris allowed Weissenhofer to score and give the Irish a quick 2-0 lead. Harris misplayed a pass back from left back Ariel Harris, allowing Weissenhofer to control the ball and take the shot.
“It was kind of like, ‘Are you serious, right now?'” Weissenhofer said of the back-to-back goals.
Bock was also taken aback by the second goal.
“I was so tired just from celebrating,” Bock said. “I think half the people at the stadium didn’t even know what happened.”
One minute into the second half, North Carolina midfielder Yael Averbuch’s shot deflected off Irish midfielder Courtney Rosen’s hand. Since the infraction occurred in the penalty box, the Tar Heels received a penalty kick and midfielder Allie Long placed her shot to the left of Karas to make the score 2-1.
Weissenhofer struck again in the 61st minute when she chased a pass from Rosen down the left side of the field. Ashlyn Harris came out to challenge her, but Weissenhofer took a shot across the goal into the right side netting to make the score 3-1.
“That probably to me was a turning point, once they got the goal, to see us respond to that and get the next goal and go back up by two,” Waldrum said. “I think that was even bigger than going up by two initially.”
The Tar Heels kept the pressure on when they made the score 3-2 in the 71st minute. Defender Jessica Maxwell sent a free kick into the box, and midfielder Nikki Washington headed the ball over Karas’ head.
Karas’ play kept the Tar Heel offense in check. She saved two shots from Washington in the second half and had to dive to her right and knock one of them away from the post. In the final minute of play, forward Casey Nogueira drove the ball down the middle of the field, but Karas charged and blocked the shot with her hands.
“Every time they came down, it seemed like I had to do something,” Karas said. “It was kind of nice to finish a game where I actually did some things.”
The Irish face Duke at home Friday in the round of eight. Weissenhofer was confident that Notre Dame could advance.
“I think if we play how we played on Saturday, I don’t think any team will be able to beat us,” Weissenhofer said.
u Defender Elise Weber left the game shortly before the end of the first half when she rolled her ankle. Waldrum said she had a high-ankle sprain and that X-rays were negative. He said he will hold her out of practice for a few days.