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ND Women’s Soccer

ND hearts broken by Tar Heels

| Sunday, September 21, 2014

No. 18 Notre Dame suffered an agonizing 3-2 defeat to No. 9 North Carolina on Saturday, giving up the winning goal in double overtime after the Tar Heels were able to overcome a 2-0 deficit at the half.

The Irish (5-3-1, 0-1-0 ACC) struck first, with sophomore midfielder Morgan Andrews scoring the first goal of the game on a penalty kick in the 30th minute.

Andrews also had an assist on freshman midfielder Taylor Klawunder’s goal in the 40th minute that gave Notre Dame a 2-0 lead, the first time since 2006 the Tar Heels (4-2-1, 1-0-0) were down by two goals in the first half.

Irish sophomore midfielder Morgan Andrews tries to keep the ball away from a Baylor defender in a 1-0 home win on Sept. 12.Wei Lin | The Observer

Irish sophomore midfielder Morgan Andrews tries to keep the ball away from a Baylor defender in a 1-0 home win on Sept. 12.

Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo praised the team’s first-half performance and said Andrews in particular stood out from the start.

“We put pressure and got the double teams, and we were able to move the ball [in the first half],” Romagnolo said. “We also had two great goals. That first PK that Morgan got was huge, and the second goal had a great buildup and great finish.

“Morgan Andrews was exceptional. Her ability to control the ball for us and step up and take the PK, and then get the assist on Taylor Klawunder’s goal was crucial.”

North Carolina came out of halftime with a vengeance, though, when Tar Heel sophomore midfielder Cameron Castleberry got a shot in to the right side of the net in the 61st minute after finding a hole in the Notre Dame defense.

Irish freshman midfielder Taylor Klawunder dribbles the ball forward during Notre Dame’s 1-0 win against Baylor on Sept. 12 at Alumni Field. Klawunder scored a goal in Saturday’s loss to UNC.Rosie Biehl | The Observer

Irish freshman midfielder Taylor Klawunder dribbles the ball forward during Notre Dame’s 1-0 win against Baylor on Sept. 12 at Alumni Field. Klawunder scored a goal in Saturday’s loss to UNC.

With a little more than 14 minutes remaining in the game, a direct free kick by North Carolina sophomore midfielder Joanna Boyles, placed in the far upper right corner of the goal, evened the score at 2.

“In the second half, we went away from what was working for us,” Romagnolo said. “We didn’t possess the ball as well as we did in the first, and we didn’t get the same pressure on the ball. North Carolina brought a lot of energy into the second half, and we didn’t match that. We didn’t bring the intensity that we really needed.”

The last minutes of regulation and the first 10-minute overtime period left both teams scoreless. Then, 27 seconds into the second overtime, North Carolina senior midfielder Kat Nigro scored the winning goal on a 10-yard shot aimed just inside the left post.

The Irish players were emotional after the close loss, Romagnolo said.

“[The team was] pretty devastated,” Romagnolo said. “Anytime you’re up at the half and feeling pretty good about yourself, it’s frustrating to lose that. North Carolina is not a team you can count out, though. You can’t sit back and rely on your lead.”

Despite a disappointing end, Romagnolo said the team played well overall against a very good team in the Tar Heels and will work to improve on what caused Notre Dame to lose its lead.

“We played some great soccer and some great defense,” Romagnolo said. “We need to work on being better one-v-one and getting more pressure on the ball higher on the field so we’re not dropping back into the soft part of our 18. Keeping the ball is also something we can improve on.”

Among the highlights was the performance of sophomore goalkeeper Kaela Little, Romagnolo said. Little had five saves on the night, including one at the beginning of the game that prevented North Carolina from scoring first.

“It’d be terrible of me not to mention our goalkeeper, Kaela Little,” Romagnolo said. “She made some huge plays. They had an opportunity early on, and she made a huge save and then a couple more later in the game. She’s continuing to show that she can make huge plays, and we just have to work to limit the opportunities she gets by being better on defense.”

North Carolina was the first of 10 ACC teams the Irish will face in upcoming weeks. Romagnolo is confident that the team will continue to play competitively against them, she said.

“I expect us to be ready for [No. 2] Virginia Tech,” Romagnolo said. “We’ll get back to work on Monday. For the most part, all the ACC teams are going be tough games. It’s the little details that decide games like that.”

The Irish will face the high-powered Hokies on Thursday at 7 p.m. in Blacksburg, Virginia.

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About Renee Griffin

Notre Dame senior, formerly of Farley Hall. Originally from Lake Zurich, IL, majoring in American Studies with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. Enjoys talkin' about practice.

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