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ND Women’s Soccer: Irish run unbeaten streak to eight with win, tie

Jack Hefferon | Sunday, October 7, 2012

No. 24 Notre Dame closed out Alumni Stadium in fine style over the weekend, notching a 5-1 win over Seton Hall and a 2-2 tie against Rutgers in its last home stand of the regular season.

On Friday, the Irish (10-3-2, 6-0-1 Big East) took time before the game to honor their two graduating seniors, defender Jazmin Hall and midfielder Nicole Borner, then went out and dominated the Pirates (6-10, 1-7).

Junior midfielder Elizabeth Tucker opened the scoring with a headed goal in the 18th minute, and freshman defender Katie Naughton added her second career goal six minutes later, with both goals coming off crosses from freshman defender Brittany Von Rueden. The Irish added three more goals after the half to cap their impressive offensive night – although the defense might have shined even brighter.

Notre Dame’s back line of Hall, Von Rueden, Naughton and sophomore Sammy Scofield held Seton Hall to just three shots, and the one goal they surrendered was only their third allowed in the past seven games.

Irish coach Randy Waldrum was pleased with the contributions from the defense, and credited their continued growth as much of the reason for Notre Dame’s current eight-game unbeaten streak.

“They’re growing, and they’re getting used to each other,” Waldrum said. “All these young freshmen are starting to grow up, and that’s what we hoped for and expected them to do. So we’re excited that they’re making progress back there and helping us win games.”

The Irish defensive unit looked a little bit shakier on Sunday though when the Irish took on the Scarlet Knights (9-6-1, 2-5-1). Notre Dame had a hard time clearing the ball in the 10th minute, and Rutgers redshirt senior defender Shannon Woeller took advantage, burying a rebound past sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Voigt.

The Irish were bailed out a little bit later though, thanks to the finishing of freshman forward Crystal Thomas on a pair of Von Rueden free kicks. Von Rueden’s first entry bounced around a bit but was eventually corralled by Thomas, who tucked it inside the post to tie the game in the 29th minute. Six minutes later, another service was flicked on through the box perfectly, finding Thomas all alone on the back post for her second goal of the day and team-leading eighth of the season.

Waldrum was quick to credit the two stellar freshmen with leading the quick turnaround.

“We’ve been rotating Brittany with [sophomore defender] Taylor Schneider, but Brittany’s crossing and service ability is so good that that’s why we left her in, and she did a great job today,” he said. “Crystal was on fire today, too, but she’s been doing that all season. She’s been a real sparkplug for us.”

However, the Irish celebration lasted just 66 seconds, as once again an error in the back would allow Rutgers an opportunity. Voigt tried to save a low shot on the rain-soaked surface, but it skipped past her, where the Scarlet Knights easily poked it in to equalize. The teams played another 75 minutes of regulation and extra time soccer, but it wasn’t enough to break the draw.

“Outside of the two goals we gave up – and that was kind of the game right there – I thought we were actually pretty good,” Waldrum said. “I think we headed in the right direction and created enough chances to win. It’s just unfortunate that we had a couple mistakes in the back, but the overall performance was good.”

Following its solid weekend against teams from New Jersey, Notre Dame now heads into its most important matchup of the season at No. 11 Georgetown on Friday. The Hoyas (12-1-2, 6-0-1) also dropped their first conference points of the season in a tie Sunday, keeping them and the Irish in a tie atop the Big East’s National Division.

Bragging rights, important conference points and the upper hand in the division title race will be on the line when Notre Dame travels to Georgetown on Friday. That match will kick off at 3 p.m. in Washington, D.C.

 

Contact Jack Hefferon at wheffero@nd.edu