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ND Women’s Soccer: ACC proving ground

Mary Green | Friday, October 4, 2013

After an hour-and-a-half weather delay and two overtime periods, neither No. 4 Notre Dame nor No. 13 Wake Forest could separate itself, as the ACC opponents ended Thursday’s match at Alumni Stadium in a 1-1 draw.

Before the lightning and thunder rolled in at halftime and caused the delay, the Irish (9-1-1, 5-0-1 ACC) controlled the game, but the 0-0 score did not reflect it.
Notre Dame was able to get the ball near the goal several times and closed the first half with nine shots. The Irish ended regulation with 19 shots and added four more in overtime, though the team only put one goal on the board.

“We were just a little off with some of the opportunities,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “Our corners, we were delivering in good areas, and we were getting runs into the right area, and we just seemed to be a half-step behind the ball or a half-step too early. I’m pleased at creating the kind of chances we did, especially against a team as good as Wake, but you’ve got to convert those opportunities when you get them.”

Notre Dame’s best opportunity to take the lead in the first half came in the 41st minute when freshman midfielder Morgan Andrews curled the ball backwards in the box to freshman forward Kaleigh Olmsted, who headed the ball into the arms of Demon Deacon senior goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe. Bledsoe capped the night with five saves, drawing praise from Waldrum.

“I think Bledsoe is very, very good,” Waldrum said. “From what I saw of her tonight, she’s been the best goalkeeper we’ve come up against so far.”

The Irish finally got past Bledsoe in the 76th minute, off a feed from Olmstead to junior forward Karin Simonian in front of the box, to give the home team a 1-0 lead.
However, the Demon Deacons (8-2-2, 3-2-2) responded less than a minute later with a goal by freshman midfielder Kendall Fischlein off a pass from senior forward Katie Stengel.

With the exception of the assist, the Irish limited Stengel’s play, holding Wake Forest’s leading scorer to two shots on goal.

“I thought we did a good job on her, although every time she got it, it was like, more gray hairs coming out because she’s so good with it and she’s so dangerous,” Waldrum said. “But for the most part, I thought [Irish sophomore defender] Katie Naughton and [junior defender] Sammy Scofield did a good job keeping her contained.”

With Stengel and the Demon Deacons behind them, the Irish will head south to face Miami and junior forward Ashley Flinn on Sunday.

Flinn leads the Hurricanes (6-4-0, 1-4-0) with six goals and has a .667 shots-on-goal percentage. However, Waldrum said he is not certain what to expect from her and her team, which comes off a nine-day break for the match.

“They have a new coach, and I know it’s a very difficult place to play,” he said. “I would expect them to kind of bunker in and try to keep the score low and keep it close as long as they can.”

Waldrum also said the long trip to Florida and the Sunshine State’s weather may take a toll on his team coming off a late, double-overtime finish in which seven players went all 110 minutes.

“It won’t be easy, just traveling there, and [it's] probably still going to be 95 degrees in Miami, and we had a lot of players play a lot of minutes [Thursday], so we’ve got to be careful and maybe mix up our lineup a little bit on Sunday,” Waldrum said.

With two days to recover from the extra-minutes draw, the Irish will face the Hurricanes on Sunday at 1 p.m. at Cobb Stadium in Coral Gables, Fla.

Contact Mary Green at mgreen8@nd.edu