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ND Women’s Soccer: Irish electrify NC State

Mary Green | Friday, September 13, 2013

In their first road match of the season, the No. 8 Irish defeated North Carolina State, 3-1, to earn their first-ever conference win in the ACC on Thursday night.

After a nearly one-hour lighting delay at the Dail Soccer Field in Raleigh, N.C., the Wolfpack (5-2-0, 0-1-0 ACC) struck first. A free kick from junior defender Shelli Spamer in the sixth minute deflected off Notre Dame freshman goalkeeper Kaela Little to put North Carolina State up 1-0, only the fourth goal the Irish have given up in six matches so far.

Though his team fell behind early, Irish coach Randy Waldrum said he was not worried about how it would respond to the deficit.

“The first goal we gave up was really a soft goal,” he said. “It’s one of those mistakes that you’ll probably never see [Little] ever make again. It was five or six minutes into the game, so you’ve got a lot of time, so I wasn’t really much worried, and I thought we’d be able to come back.”

Notre Dame (5-1-0, 1-0 ACC) proved Waldrum right as sophomore forward Crystal Thomas evened the score on an assist from junior forward Lauren Bohaboy in the 16th minute.

Ten minutes later, Thomas fed the ball to junior forward Karin Simonian, who scored from six feet out to give the Irish the lead. The assist was Thomas’ seventh on the season, tying her for the most in the nation.

Junior defender Sammy Scofield added one more goal for good measure for Notre Dame in the 75th minute, assisted by senior midfielder Mandy Laddish. The score all but secured the win for the Irish, and the team improved its all-time record to 313-3-1 when scoring three goals in a game.

Waldrum said the victory lived up to his expectations for his squad’s first conference match as a member of the ACC, a victory that is the first ACC win for any Notre Dame team.

“The expectation going into tonight was that we would win,” he said. “Outside of the early goal, the kids played fantastic. … It’s great to be the first team on campus with an ACC win, so I’m pretty proud of that.”

With their first conference victory in the books, the Irish will have to quickly prepare for a battle against No. 1 North Carolina on Sunday.

The defending national champion Tar Heels (7-0-0, 1-0-0) enter the match coming off a 2-1 win over Virginia Tech on Thursday. 

On Sept. 6, North Carolina took a 1-0 victory over No. 5 UCLA, the only team to have beaten Notre Dame so far.

Though their roster boasts many highly recruited and talented players, two seniors especially stand out. Forward Kealia Ohai and midfielder Crystal Dunn earned spots on the All-American first-team last season, and the latter won the Hermann Trophy as college soccer’s best player.

Waldrum said he expects a strong performance from Dunn especially, who competed with the U.S. women’s national team this summer.

“She’s been playing with Abby Wambach and Alex Morgan and those kids that we hear about all the time, and that’s given her a wealth of experience,” he said. “But she’s dynamic, she’s athletic, she can play any position. She’s one of those players that’s got the full package, and I would think she’s got to be one of the best players in the country right now.”

To upset the unanimous top team in the country, Waldrum said his team has to contain Dunn and Ohai and play with the confidence that they can match up with the entire Tar Heel squad.

“We’ve got to come out and match their intensity – they’re a very high-pressure and high-tempo team,” he said. “In the years that we’ve done that, we’ve been very successful against them, and in the years that we haven’t, we’ve had a really difficult time coming out and playing.”

The Irish will look to tack on a second conference victory against North Carolina on Sunday at 1 p.m. from Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Contact Mary Green at mgreen8@nd.edu