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ND Women’s Soccer: Role Reversal

Megan Golden | Monday, September 12, 2011

A statistically sound performance over the weekend turned ugly in a hurry for No. 8 Notre Dame, ultimately leaving the Irish with more questions surrounding their defense.

The Irish (3-3-1) opened the weekend with an outstanding rematch of last year’s national championship, but struggled late in the game, which resulted in a 2-1 loss to No. 2 Stanford (5-0-1). Two days later, a few changes to the Irish defense proved irrelevant, as Notre Dame tied No. 17 Santa Clara (3-0-4) in double overtime 1-1.

Senior forward and tri-captain Melissa Henderson came up with the first goal against Stanford, sending a header past the Stanford defense and giving Notre Dame a 1-0 lead. The goal came 66 minutes into the game, which was interrupted by a 49-minute weather delay. Sophomore midfielder Mandy Laddish and senior midfielder Courtney Barg were each credited with an assist on the play.

Though Notre Dame held a decisive 11-4 advantage in shots on goal for the game, Stanford stepped up in the clutch, netting two goals in the last 10 minutes of play. Cardinal senior forward Lindsay Taylor recorded a goal and an assist, leading her team to a 2-1 victory over the Irish.

“It was a great game, and it was exactly everything we expected. They’re a great team and we played extremely, extremely well. It’s disappointing to lose in the last 10 minutes,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “We had a couple of freshmen who made a few mistakes in there late. That’s why we get them in there, so they experience that and are better when we see teams like that at the end of the year.”

The loss to the Cardinal marks the first-ever defeat in Henderson’s career in games she has recorded either a goal or assist (47-1-3).

Waldrum said he wants Henderson to contribute even more to the team.

“Obviously she has a great impact, but we need her to have a greater impact right now. She can do so much more for us than what she’s doing. Things get in her head, and she has to be mature and strong enough psychologically when things aren’t going her way,” he said. “She’s a key player, and our record indicates that. We know that, but right now we need her to lead a little more offensively.”

Irish freshman goalkeeper Sarah Voigt started in goal for the Irish on Friday, recording two saves and allowing two goals in crunch time at Stanford. Waldrum turned to junior goalkeeper Maddie Fox for the Sunday matinee.

“Neither one has yet to prove that they’re the goalkeeper we need, and that concerns me seven games into the season,” Waldrum said.

Notre Dame’s defense continued to struggle over the weekend and was left helpless when junior defender Jazmin Hall left the Stanford game due to injury.

“I think we’re still a little questionable in the back. Friday against Stanford, we were clearly the better team. Jazmin Hall played great, and when she left the game injured we scrambled to find replacements,” Waldrum said. “The [defenders] we groomed to give us minutes struggled, and we didn’t have what it takes to compete. We’re starting to get things a little more settled, but we need more depth at those positions.”

The Irish got off to a slow start at Santa Clara Sunday, and the Broncos took a 1-0 lead just under 30 minutes into the game. Despite Notre Dame’s dominance in possession, the Irish struggled to heat up offensively. It was Henderson who came through again for the Irish, scoring an unassisted goal with just under 30 minutes remaining to tie the game 1-1.

The Irish outmatched the Broncos according to the stat sheet, winning the shots-on-goal battle 9-6 and gathering five more corners than Santa Clara.

Waldrum said he was disappointed Notre Dame’s offensive performance did not carry over from its tough loss at Stanford.

“I’m disappointed in our finishing and creativity. We played well in time of possession, and we were dominant in every area and stat you can think of,” he said. “Good teams are hungry to score, and we’re struggling with that right now.”

Notre Dame will return home to take on Louisville Friday at 5 p.m