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ND Women’s Soccer: Toppling the Tar Heels

Chris Masoud | Monday, November 22, 2010

They did it again. Facing top-seeded North Carolina in the third round of the NCAA Championship, the Irish dismantled the Tarheels 4-1 to advance to the quarterfinals.

 “It was huge,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “The girls were unbelievably good and focused and ready to play. I don’t know that I’ve had a team that has been so prepared to play North Carolina. They carried out every game plan that we had going in, executed everything as well as we could have asked.”

Saturday’s victory marked the third time Notre Dame has eliminated the Tarheels from the tournament at Chapel Hill, N.C., the most recent coming in a 3-2 win in the round-of-16 in 2007. Waldrum credits his team’s confidence and desire to beat a rival on its own field.

“Teams go in there and struggle because they play well for periods of time, but they can’t sustain it,” he said. “Our teams over the last few years have been very good about sustaining that intensity and focus over 90 minutes. A lot of teams lose before they ever step on that field against them [Tarheels].”

Senior midfielder Rose Augustin started the scoring for the No. 7/10 Irish (18-2-2), burying an empty-net shot in the 13th minute following a free kick from junior defender Jessica Schuveiller. Schuveiller’s strike just inside the midfield mark was bobbled by Tarheels keeper Hannah Daly, eventually finding a well-positioned Augustin for the easy score.

No. 3/4 North Carolina (19-3-2) knotted up the score at 1-1 less than six minutes later, when freshman Crystal Dunn found the back of the net from 20 yards out on what Waldrum called a “world-class” goal. Yet senior goalkeeper Nikki Weiss and the Irish defense settled down, yielding few opportunities and taking the Tarheels out of their element for the remaining 71 minutes.

“When it got down to it, we were very good and very organized, while most everything they [Tarheels] created came either from shots that were really not dangerous, or we handled that danger really well,” Waldrum said. “Our matchups worked very well for us, and of course having Nikki play as well as she played is always a plus.”

Schuveiller scored the game-winner in the 33rd minute, sending home an Augustin corner to give the Irish a 2-1 advantage. Junior forward Melissa Henderson headed in a strong service from an Augustin free kick to extend the lead to 3-1 in the opening minutes of the second half, and junior midfielder Ellen Jantsch put the game out of reach in the 77th minute with her second goal of the season.

“You count on those kids to rise to the occasion,” Waldrum said. “I thought Melissa was fantastic. She was dangerous almost every time she touched the ball, and I thought it was one of her best performances against Carolina that she’s had in her three years here. Rose continues to be that solid, steady performer, and she seeks to score goals in big games.”

In just the second meeting between the two programs, Notre Dame will face No. 6 Oklahoma State (20-3-2) Friday at 7 p.m. in Stillwater, Okla., with a trip to the College Cup on the line. Waldrum said the 5-day break gives his squad time to adjust its game plan to a Cowgirls squad coming off a 2-0 win over Duke last Friday night.

“I like this part of the tournament where you play one game a week,” Waldrum said. “I think it’s more conducive for all the teams involved. They get the proper rest they need and a real chance to recover. We know Oklahoma State’s had a great year. I think they’ll be very excited to play, and we’ll be ready to play.”