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ND Women’s Soccer: Irish triumph over Mexico U-20 squad

Brian Hartnett | Monday, April 8, 2013

Under Irish coach Randy Waldrum, Notre Dame has always played a challenging national schedule of top college teams. But the Irish went a step further Friday night, defeating the Mexico under-20 national team 4-3 at Alumni Stadium.
Notre Dame freshman defender Cari Roccaro scored the game-winning goal for the Irish three minutes into stoppage time at the end of the second half, breaking free on the right side and driving home a shot past the outstretched arms of Mexico goalkeeper Alejandra Gutierrez.
Roccaro’s game-winner came just minutes after she assisted on a game-tying goal. In the 85th minute, she attempted a hard shot from just outside the box that deflected off Gutierrez, and freshman forward Crystal Thomas knocked in the rebound for the equalizing goal.
“To get two goals to come back in the last 10 minutes against a national team of Mexico’s caliber is great,” Waldrum said. “It should be a big confidence boost for us because we struggled offensively late last fall.”
The Irish provided the first offensive spark Friday night, as sophomore forward Karin Simonian drilled in a shot from 25 yards out in the 18th minute, tying her goal total from last season. Waldrum said Simonian, who led the team with four shots Friday, should factor more prominently in Notre Dame’s offense in the fall.
“If [Simonian] can continue to play like she’s played the last two games, then clearly she’ll fit into the equation,” Waldrum said. “We’ve tried to find what her best position is in the last year or so, but, in these last two games, she’s done a good job playing the floater position up front.”
Mexico tied the game up in the 30th minute when forward Tanya Samarzich blasted a shot past Irish freshman goalkeeper Naomi Willett.
Notre Dame regained the lead in the 54th minute when freshman defender Katie Naughton headed in a shot off Thomas’ corner kick.
Mexico took back the lead after Samarzich scored twice to complete the hat trick. Samarzich, who has committed to USC, broke away for the tying goal in the 57th minute and then struck a shot into the lower right corner of the goal in the 77th to give Mexico the lead.
“[Mexico] finds a way to punish you for every little mistake you make,” Waldrum said. “[Samarzich] scored three great goals on us, she could find those little gaps to get into and you don’t find many college teams that are that smart tactically in the way they play.”
With freshman goalkeeper Elyse Hight out with a shoulder injury and sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Voigt nursing a groin injury, Willett, who only saw action in two games last season, got the start in goal, her second of the spring season. She played the full game in goal, making two saves.
“[Willett] needed the spring because she needed to get games,” Waldrum said. “She’s done okay, certainly there’s some things she’s gotten exposed on a bit, but you really want the spring to give her a learning curve and help her be more prepared for the fall.”
Notre Dame will close out its spring schedule with a friendly against the Haitian national team at Alumni Stadium on April 26.
Contact Brian Hartnett at bhartnet@nd.edu