ND Women’s Soccer
Elite postseason teams to test ND
Renee Griffin | Monday, November 3, 2014
The No. 9 Irish seemed dominant as the regular season drew to a close, winning five in a row before ending the regular season with a tie against Boston College on Saturday. However, the teams on Notre Dame’s playoff schedule will be significantly tougher than the last few.
The offense and defense combined to outscore the final six opponents 12-1 in the string of results. That consistency will have to continue as Notre Dame (12-4-2, 7-2-1 ACC) goes up against even more elite teams in the postseason.
The Irish have come a long way since falling in back-to-back home upsets at the hands of Texas Tech and USC in the second weekend of the season. Notre Dame proved it was deserving of a top-10 rank when it tied No. 4 Stanford, took No. 5 North Carolina into double overtime, shut out No. 16 Virginia Tech and kept up with No. 3 Virginia until the final minute of the game.
Notre Dame faces No. 2 Florida State in the ACC semifinal match Friday. The Seminoles (16-1-1, 9-0-1) will remind the Irish what a top competitor looks like, as No. 21 Clemson was the only ranked opponent Notre Dame faced after the Oct. 5 loss to Virginia.
Notre Dame is equipped to keep up with any team in the country, with its wide range of players capable of scoring at any time, including senior forward Lauren Bohaboy, sophomore midfielder Morgan Andrews and freshman forward Karin Muya. The defense also continues to strengthen, allowing only two goals in the last nine games.
The main problem for the Irish: finishing games. In both early-season losses to Texas Tech and USC, the squad lost the lead by giving up two goals in the second half. Against Virginia, a Cavalier goal in the final minute gave Virginia the 2-1 victory.
Boston College evened the score in the 79th minute during the 1-1 tie Saturday. Though the Irish escaped Massachusetts with their undefeated road record intact, the late goal was eerily similar to the conclusions of some of those previous heartbreaking losses.
The team’s convincing performances toward the end of the season seemed to indicate that Notre Dame had been able to maintain focus for the full two halves. If that trend persists through the postseason, Notre Dame has a legitimate chance not only to challenge for the ACC Championship title, but also to play far into the NCAA tournament.
Friday’s faceoff against Florida State should be a hard-fought battle, competitive to the very end. Let’s hope the result doesn’t come down to the referees.
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.