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ND Women’s Soccer

Irish knocked out of NCAAs

| Sunday, November 23, 2014

Entering the final 10 minutes of regulation in the third round of the NCAA tournament, the fourth-seeded Irish were dominating almost every facet of play and seemed prepared to enter overtime tied, 1-1, against top-seeded Texas A&M on Sunday.

However, one poor clear by the Irish was all it took for the Aggies to pounce, break the tie and abruptly end Notre Dame’s season, 2-1, in College Station, Texas.

“I was very proud of the effort,” Irish coach Theresa Romagnolo said. “I thought it was the best game we played all year. It was unfortunate that we weren’t able to score goals and the other team was the one to put two in, but overall I thought we were the better team, which in some ways makes it sting more.”

Texas A&M senior midfielder Kelley Monogue accounted for both Aggie goals, bookending the game in the seventh and 82nd minutes on unassisted attempts.

In the 70 minutes between those goals, Notre Dame held the advantage in shots, shots on goal and corner kicks, while dominating possession in the midfield to push the Aggies defense to the limit.

“The midfield was the best I’d seen it all year,” Romagnolo said. “They dominated. They won everything in the air. They won every 50-50 ball. They came away with the possession. They absolutely shut down one of the better teams I’ve seen all year. The defense was also fantastic and the forwards created a lot of opportunities …”

The Irish finally broke through to tie the game in the 72nd minute when freshman defender Sabrina Flores sent a corner kick into the penalty area, where the ball found freshman forward Karin Muya, who poked it by senior goalkeeper Jordan Day.

Muya’s goal marked her fourth of the season and second in the past two games. She also added an assist in Notre Dame’s 2-1 second round win over Texas on Friday.

“[Karin’s] always dangerous on the ball,” Romagnolo said. “She can score. She can get an assist. She’s a very exciting player.”

Texas A&M entered the match with the nation’s 11th best scoring offense (2.57) and average over 20 shots per game, but the Irish limited the Aggies to below their season average with just 12 shots, six of which were on goal. Still, letting up multiple scores in a contest was something the Irish could not afford to do, Romagnolo said.

“You just can’t allow two goals at this stage of the tournament,” Romagnolo said. “Defensively, you have to be better. … You can’t allow two goals and expect to win a Sweet 16 matchup, and certainly beyond that as well.”

Texas A&M came out aggressively from the opening whistle, recording three shots in just over five minutes while Notre Dame stayed back on defense. Then, in the seventh minute, Monogue took a corner kick that curled towards the net, deflected off a Notre Dame defender and got by sophomore goalkeeper Kaela Little to stake the Aggies to an early lead.

“The first goal was definitely savable,” Romagnolo said. “But if people are going to make mistakes, then the rest of the team needs to respond to that.”

Texas A&M took the lead for good in the 82nd minute when a poor clear from the Notre Dame defense squirted loose at the top of the 18-yard box. Monogue grabbed the turnover and beat Little with a right-footed blast.

“The second goal was a bad clearing decision,” Romagnolo said. “We didn’t take care of the ball so two poor goals allowed.”

The loss, Notre Dame’s first true road loss of the season, knocks the Irish out of the NCAA championship and ends their season.

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About Greg Hadley

Greg Hadley is a senior from Rockville, Maryland, majoring in political science with a minor in Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. He served as The Observer's Editor-in-Chief for the 2015-2016 term and currently covers Notre Dame baseball and women's basketball.

Contact Greg