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ND Women’s Soccer: Squad bests Northwestern, sweeps weekend

Conor Kelly | Sunday, August 25, 2013

The Irish sprinted out of the gate against Northwestern on Sunday, with junior forward Lauren Bohaboy scoring two goals in the game’s first seven minutes to stake Notre Dame to a 2-0 lead. The team never looked back, cruising to a 4-1 victory at Alumni Stadium in the second game of the season. 

“It makes the opposition know that there is a long way back,” said Irish coach Randy Waldrum of his team’s fast start. “To put pressure on them that early really hits them hard. It was really important to get those two goals early.”

Bohaboy got the Irish (2-0, 0-0 ACC) on the board just a minute and 12 seconds into the match, corralling a cross from freshman forward Kaleigh Olmsted, turning past a Wildcat defender and firing a shot into the upper netting past Northwestern sophomore goalkeeper Rachel Bergman. 

Five minutes later, Bohaboy found the net again off a pass played across the six-yard box by sophomore defender Brittany Von Rueden, who provided an offensive spark for the Irish all day from the back. Bergman had little chance on either of Bohaboy’s shots, as the Irish found the net on each of their first two attempts.

“I’m feeling really good about our team this year,” Bohaboy said. “I just need to keep working hard and everything’s going to go well.”

Given a two-goal lead, the Irish defense and midfield proved relentless, holding an overwhelming advantage in possession and hardly giving up the ball throughout the first half. The midfield tandem of sophomore Cari Roccaro and freshman Morgan Andrews was instrumental in holding and distributing the ball in the middle third, as the Irish completed over 500 passes on the day, according to Waldrum.

“It’s the style that we want to play and something we assign as a priority,” Waldrum said. “I always tell our team that if we can get around 330 passes a game, we’ll win most of our games. Today we had over 500 to only about 100 for them. I thought our possession was very good today and has been all season.”

Freshman midfielder Cindy Pineda, who came on midway through the first half, extended the Irish lead and notched her first collegiate goal just soon after taking the field. The first-year player skimmed a header past Bergman on a cross from Von Rueden to take the Irish to the half with a 3-0 lead.

Northwestern got on the board just after the halftime break as senior midfielder Julie Sierks lofted a shot from 25 yards out into the upper left corner of the net. But the Irish were quick to answer on a corner kick, with sophomore defender and tri-captain Katie Naughton heading in a cross from sophomore forward Crystal Thomas. Naughton’s goal finished the scoring despite the best efforts at a hat trick by Bohaboy, who hit the crossbar on a chip with 20 minutes remaining.

This year’s Irish squad is more seasoned than a year ago, returning 10 starters to a team that reached the 2012 NCAA quarterfinals. With another strong recruiting class, headlined by the No. 1 freshman in the nation in Andrews, the Irish have the depth to provide Waldrum with plenty of options for his starting 11. 

“I think we’re getting close,” Waldrum said. “I think we have a great rotation up front with Bohaboy, [junior forward] Karin Simonian, Crystal Thomas, and the freshman Olmsted and [sophomore forward] Anna Maria Gilbertson. Those five have been unsettled, but we know they are all going to play. In midfield, we’re in great shape.”

The win against Northwestern followed a similar 4-1 victory over Illinois on Friday at Alumni Stadium in the season-opener. Bohaboy, Gilbertson, Olmsted and senior defender and tri-captain Elizabeth Tucker provided the offense and freshman goalkeeper Kaela Little impressed in her first collegiate start in net. 

The Irish are back in action this weekend when they host the Notre Dame adidas Invitational at Alumni Stadium, squaring off with Oakland on Friday and UCLA on Sunday.

Contact Conor Kelly at ckelly17@nd.edu