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Women’s Soccer: Squad takes care of pair of top-15 teams over the weekend

Deirdre Krasula | Monday, September 8, 2008

As No. 4/5 Notre Dame faced the daunting task of going toe-to-toe with a pair of top-15 teams this past weekend, the Irish defense didn’t back down. In fact, it took the challenge with determination, and wound up victorious against No. 2/3 North Carolina on Friday and No. 12 Duke on Sunday.

Notre Dame took the lead early in the second half against the Tar Heels, but it was the defense that held the margin together and paved the way for victory.

Just six minutes into the second half, senior Brittany Bock drilled a 30-yard goal that came with a little bit of luck as well as continued pressure from the Irish offense.

Senior Kerri Hanks broke free off a pass from sophomore Taylor Knaack, but Tar Heels senior goal keeper Anna Rodenbough denied her drive. Rodenbough tried to clear the ball, but it landed at Bock’s feet. Bock took advantage of the empty net and her 30-yard drive sailed over the keeper’s head and into the upper left corner of the net.

“Brittany made a really intelligent play after she saw the keeper off her line,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “From that angle we were at, we could tell it was going to be trouble right away and it just kept going right into the net.”

However, North Carolina came fighting back to test the Irish defense and junior goalkeeper Kelsey Lysander. The defense, led by senior Carrie Dew, turned in another strong performance, forcing Lysander to make only three saves in her second consecutive shutout of the season. North Carolina shots from junior Casey Nogueria and freshman Merritt Mathias that just missed the Irish net. With a strong defensive line, the Tar Heels had to resort to threatening from outside the box. With less than 20 minutes remaining in the match, junior forward Nikki Washington fired a shot that nearly missed the Irish goal from 20 yards out.

“We’re very pleased with this win and especially happy with the play of our defense,” Waldrum said. “We kept our shape well and didn’t get flustered when they made their run at us after our goal in the second half.”

The Tar Heels defense was nearly caught off guard in final quarter of the game. Hanks broke past the defense to send a 20-yard shot over Rodenbough’s fingertips only to hit the crossbar. Just missing a chance to widen their lead, the Irish would finish the game with the 1-0 victory.

The Irish took to the field again Sunday against Duke in their final game of the Carolina Classic.

Like Friday, the Irish struggled to get on the board until the second half. Hanks opened up scoring for the Irish scoring off a cross from Bock in the first minute of the second half. Duke tied it at 1-1 with a set play off a corner kick.

Sophomore Lauren Fowlkes gave the Irish the 2-1 lead with her first goal of the season. Senior Rebecca Mendoza followed just four minutes later to secure Notre Dame’s win at 3-1.

The Irish return to Alumni field when they take on Southern Methodist Friday.