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ND Women’s Soccer: Notre Dame falls to Noles

Greg Hadley | Friday, November 1, 2013

With less than four minutes left in regulation, things were looking good for No. 10 Notre Dame. Up 1-0 at No. 3 Florida State, it appeared as though the Irish (11-6-1, 7-5-1 ACC) would end the regular season on a high note and head into the ACC tournament with a three-game win-streak.
Then, in the 88th minute, FSU junior forward Marta Bakowska-Mathews launched a shot into the upper-right corner of the net, past Irish freshman goalkeeper Kaela Little, forcing overtime.
With momentum heading into the extra period, the Seminoles (15-1-3, 10-1-2) put heavy pressure on the Irish defense. Finally, the Florida State offense broke through in the 105th minute when junior defender Megan Campbell sent a long cross into the box that a diving Bakowska-Mathews headed past Little, giving the Seminoles the 2-1 victory.
Though the loss did not have an impact on Notre Dame’s final seeding in the ACC tournament, Irish coach Randy Waldrum said he was still disappointed with the result.
“We wanted to win, Waldrum said. “We needed to win. It would have helped us out a lot. We’re still vying for a good seed in the NCAA tournament, so it’s disappointing, especially when the team played so well.”
The Seminoles challenged Little and the Irish backline early, taking four shots in the opening 25 minutes to Notre Dame’s one. But immediately after coming off the bench, Notre Dame sophomore forward Anna Maria Gilbertson turned the tide for the Irish with a hard bending shot into the upper corner of the net to give Notre Dame a 1-0 lead in the 28th minute.
“Anna Maria probably had one of her better games of the year,” Waldrum said. “The goal she scored was world-class. She defended well and attacked well, too.”
For the rest of the game, the Irish attack kept heavy pressure on the Seminole defense, unleashing 15 shots from there on out, including a near miss by freshman midfielder Morgan Andrews that ricocheted off the crossbar.
On defense, the Irish kept the Florida State attack at bay for most of the second half. Despite eight corners and multiple throw-ins that made it into the box, Little was able to break up any potential shots on goal.
“[Little] was very good tonight,” Waldrum said. “It seemed like every time they had a throw-in, it was in the box, and I think she coped with that, and the corners, really well.”
In the end, though, the Seminoles finally evened the score on Bakowska-Mathews’s blast from 20 yards out and ended the game on her header in the second period of overtime.
“I don’t think there was much [Little] could have done on either goal,” Waldrum said “One was through a crowd and she couldn’t even see it and the other was from only two or three yards off the line.”
Still, Waldrum said his team needs to focus and close games better as it heads into the postseason.
“We’ve lost six games, and five of them have come in overtime or with [less than five] minutes to go,” Waldrum said. “That completely changes the outlook of your team if you at least get a tie in those games. We have got to close games better, and we have to score more than one goal a game. The team has to focus for the full 90 minutes. We let one get away today.”
With the win, the Seminoles clinch the No. 2 seed in the ACC tournament. Meanwhile, Notre Dame will travel to Blacksburg, Va., to take on Virginia Tech in the quarterfinals of the ACC tournament. The Irish played the Hokies earlier this year, losing 1-0 on a goal in the final four minutes. On Sunday, they will look to avenge that loss.
“It’s tournament time, and if you don’t win, you’re out,” Waldrum said. “There are no more second chances. The main thing is putting this loss behind us so we can go to Virginia Tech and get back a game we lost early in the year to a team that I think we’re better than. We have to go there and produce. It’s all on us at this point.”
The Irish begin the ACC tournament Sunday at 1 p.m. in Blacksburg, Va., against Virginia Tech.
Contact Greg Hadley at ghadley@nd.edu