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ND Women’s Soccer

Two Gilbertson goals earn Irish upset over top-ranked Cavaliers

| Friday, September 25, 2015

In a matchup with national championship implications, No. 16 Notre Dame upset No. 1 Virginia, 2-1, in a double-overtime thriller.  

For the Irish (8-1-1, 1-1-0 ACC), the star of the night was senior forward Anna Maria Gilbertson, who netted her sixth and seventh goals on the season — including the game-winner in the 104th minute.

Senior forward Anna Maria Gilbertson fights for position in a 2-1 victory against Santa Clara on Aug. 28 at Alumni Stadium.Michael Yu | The Observer

Senior forward Anna Maria Gilbertson fights for position in a 2-1 victory against Santa Clara on Aug. 28 at Alumni Stadium.

Second-year Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo said she was pleased with the overall effort of her team.

“It was a well deserved win,” Romagnolo said. “We defended well, and it validated who we are as a team. We snapped their 37-[regular season] game winning streak. We beat the No. 1 team in the country, and it does a ton for our confidence.”

After beginning ACC play with an overtime loss at Clemson last Saturday, Notre Dame looked to right the ship on the road against the top team in the country.

Romagnolo had a clear message for her team going into Thursday’s showdown.

“We wanted to attack and get it done,” she said. “We wanted to defend well and take advantage of any opportunities. We knew there were going to be times where we weren’t playing in rhythm, and we had to take our opportunities any way they came.” 

The scoring began early for the Irish when sophomore defender Sabrina Flores connected with Gilbertson on a cross in the box in the 13th minute. 

The Irish’s stingy defense kept Virginia off the scoreboard for the entire first half, including a spectacular save by junior goalkeeper Kaela Little in the 28th minute.

Notre Dame held on to that one-goal advantage for the majority of the second half, until the Cavaliers finally broke through in the 85th minute. Cavaliers junior forward Morgan Reuther took a pass from senior forward Brittany Ratcliffe and poked a shot past the outstretched Little.

Romagnolo said she gave her team a clear directive following Virginia’s equalizer.

“We have to respond,” Romagnolo said. “We have to defend and not have any let downs. We need to find a way to win and bring it to the table.”

The stage was set for a thrilling overtime finish — and Romagnolo did not want to settle for a draw.

“We wanted to defend well,” she said. “We didn’t want to allow any chances. I’m proud of us, we dominated. We were not happy with a tie.”

The Irish controlled the tempo during the first extra period, outshooting Virginia 3-0. Sophomore defender Ginny McGowan nearly had the game winner in the 100th minute, but her shot was just wide of the target.

Notre Dame again created more chances than the top-ranked Cavaliers in the second period of overtime. In the 104th minute, freshman forward Natalie Jacobs found Gilbertson in front of the goal, and the senior buried the game winner from 18 yards out.

“[Gilbertson] was unbelievable,” Romagnolo said. “The quality of her finishes were amazing. Where she placed the ball in the net was impressive.”

After such an emotional victory, Romagnolo will have to refocus her team for Sunday’s home match with defending national champions Florida State.

Romagnolo said she was enthusiastic about her team’s second straight match against a top-five opponent.

“We’re excited,” she said. “If you look across the scores, everyone is beating everyone. It’s wide open. We had a big win tonight, and we can’t wait to face our next test.”

The Seminoles and the Irish will play this Sunday at Alumni Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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