ND Women’s Soccer: Notre Dame takes road matches against Rutgers, Seton Hall
Douglas Farmer | Monday, October 12, 2009
Notre Dame made a strong claim for Big East supremacy this weekend with two shutout victories on the road against conference foes.
The No. 8 Irish (10-3-1, 6-0-1 Big East) handed No. 10 Rutgers (9-2-3, 3-1-2) its first conference loss Friday, leaving Notre Dame as the lone undefeated Big East team with only a few weeks left on the conference slate.
“We have two or three big weekends coming up,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “We aren’t through this tough stretch completely yet, but we are sitting five points clear of Rutgers now, which gives us some breathing room.”
Neither the Irish nor the Scarlet Knights found the back of the net for most of the game, but with barely six minutes remaining in regulation, junior midfielder Lauren Fowlkes delivered a shot past the Rutgers goalie. Freshman defender Jazmin Hall assisted on the goal.
“It was a world-class goal,” Waldrum said of Fowlkes’ game-winner. “Jazmin got down the left side late in the game and served a cross that Lauren hit first time from 12 or 15 yards out. It was a great way to finish off that game.”
After the goal, the Irish knew the Scarlet Knights would attack with everything but the kitchen sink, but Notre Dame did not change its gameplan.
“We had to decide if we wanted to drop back defensively for the rest of the game or stay the way we were,” Waldrum said. “We opted to stay how we were. We didn’t want to spend six minutes in a defensive shell to just absorb pressure.”
The victory extended Notre Dame’s NCAA-record unbeaten streak against conference opponents to 58 games and its conference road unbeaten streak to 25 games – both streaks would be lengthened by one more game after the victory over Seton Hall.
“Winning on the road there is big,” Waldrum said. “It is a very tough to place to play. In the first half they outplayed us. We did not do a good job of matching their intensity. In that second half we were much better at taking over the game.”
Waldrum also said he was very pleased to top an elite team like the Scarlet Knights after Notre Dame’s struggles earlier this season against top 10 teams North Carolina, Santa Clara and Stanford.
“Of all the teams we have played this year,” he said. “I felt they are one of the best two or three teams we played.”
Notre Dame used an extraordinary defensive performance to top Seton Hall 2-0 Sunday. Notre Dame did not allow a single shot on goal in the game, only yielding two shots overall. The Irish managed 10 shots on the Pirates goal, and 19 in the game.
The defensive performance allowed junior Nikki Weiss a reprieve in her third consecutive shutout.
“After the West Virginia game a week ago – we won in overtime 3-2 – I felt there were a couple situations we could have handled a little better in goal so that Sunday we went with Nikki to give her a chance,” Waldrum said. “She got a shutout, so we just went with her again this week. It is nice to see her in a big game and not just in mop up duty. She has absolutely showed she is ready to play.”
Sophomore forward Melissa Henderson netted Notre Dame’s first goal, and junior forward Taylor Knaack scored the sealing goal.
After the successful four-game road trip (3-0-1), the Irish will hope to build on their momentum in a homestand next week beginning against Connecticut Friday.