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ND Women’s Soccer: Irish defeat DePaul in finale

Megan Golden | Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Irish finished the regular season in record-setting fashion against DePaul on Friday’s senior night and defeated the Blue Demons 5-1 at Alumni Stadium.

Notre Dame (9-6-3, 6-3-2 Big East) completed its three-game home stand with a 2-1 record, ending the regular season with two consecutive wins. The Irish fell to Georgetown (14-5, 8-3 Big East) 3-2 on Oct. 14 and defeated Villanova (8-9-2, 4-7 Big East) 3-1 on Oct. 16.

Irish senior forward Melissa Henderson set or tied seven school records Friday against the Blue Demons (3-14-1, 0-9-1 Big East), when she scored four of the team’s five goals. Henderson’s sixth career hat trick tied the school record, and her third hat trick of the season equaled another high in the record books.

Henderson put the Irish on the board at the 12:12 mark, but that would be Notre Dame’s lone first-half goal. The Irish were in control of a 1-0 lead over the Blue Demons at halftime.

Henderson could not be stopped in what might have been her final game at Alumni Stadium. She had all 1,309 fans on their feet when she netted two goals just 58 seconds apart from each other. Her final goal of the night — and 17th goal of the season — came with just over eight minutes remaining in the game.

Irish coach Randy Waldrum could not help but laugh when asked about Henderson’s performance.

“I didn’t realize [Henderson] had broken so many [records]. I [can’t] put into words how important she’s been for our program over the past four years,” Waldrum said. “I was very happy for her; her mom and brother were here and so many friends. We got all eight [seniors] on the field one last time at home. Henderson is clearly going to go down as one of the best players to ever wear an Irish jersey.”

Irish senior midfielder Brynn Gerstle recorded her second goal of the season midway through the second half. Four different Irish players were credited with assists in the game, including senior defenders Jessica Schuveiller and Molly Campbell.

DePaul freshman forward Rachel Pitman’s goal with 40 seconds remaining prevented the Irish from recording their sixth shutout of the season.

Irish junior goalkeeper Maddie Fox did not allow a goal, while collecting two saves on the day. Freshman goalkeeper Jennifer Jasper replaced Fox and made her collegiate debut late in the second half. Jasper allowed one goal and picked up two saves.

“It was obviously a lot of fun. We’ve historically been really good on senior night,” Waldrum said. “I was happy we could send them out the right way. We played a solid game all the way through. The second half explosion of goals allowed us to get some kids some rest and get all the seniors on, even a few who haven’t played as much.”

Waldrum said he was impressed by the number of fans that came to support the Irish.

“The way the underclassmen gave [the seniors] gifts before the game, and even though the students weren’t here, we still had close to 1,500 people,” he said. “I couldn’t have scripted it better.”

Notre Dame’s win against Villanova secured a first-round bye for the Irish in the Big East tournament. The Irish are set to face No. 17 Marquette in the quarterfinals. The Golden Eagles (17-2, 10-1 Big East) defeated the Irish in overtime by a score of 3-2 on Sept. 25.

Waldrum said the team has a chip on its shoulder from their match a month ago.

“It’s a game we think we gave away all three goals. I don’t want to take away anything from Marquette because they have a very good program, but we don’t feel they earned those three goals,” Waldrum said.

“Our kids are really looking forward to going to Marquette for a chance to redeem themselves. Marquette’s a tough place to play. It should be good quarterfinals for both [schools], and we’re really looking forward to it.”

The Irish return to action Sunday at Marquette at a time to be determined in the Big East Quarterfinals.

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