ND Women’s Soccer
Notre Dame thrashes Oakland in NCAA tournament
Renee Griffin | Monday, November 16, 2015
No. 10 Notre Dame lived up to the expectations that come along with a three seed Friday night, routing Oakland, 5-0, at Alumni Stadium in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
The Irish (14-4-1, 6-4-0 ACC) wasted little time in their attack, barraging the Golden Grizzlies (8-6-7) and freshman goalkeeper Emily Zweng with four shots in the first five minutes before Irish senior forward Anna Maria Gilbertson was able to put the first score on the board at the 6:21 mark.
Notre Dame continued its offensive onslaught through the rest of the first half. Junior forward Kaleigh Olmsted, set up by the left post, sent a sharp header into the back of the net off a pass from senior defender Brittany Von Rueden for the second score of the game in the 12th minute.
Von Rueden picked up another assist when senior captain and defender Katie Naughton scored her second goal of the season near the 27-minute mark, and Gilbertson found the goal for the second time that night to give the team a 4-0 lead seven minutes before halftime.
All told, the Irish took 34 shots over the course of the game — 17 in each half — while Oakland managed only four. Eight of those shots came from Gilbertson, and seven came from junior midfielder Sandra Yu.
“Anna had some incredible goals and Kaleigh had that great header. I loved that mentality to attack the goal,” Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo said. “I loved the way we came out and just went after them.”
Notre Dame’s starting 11 entered the second half similarly energized, with sophomore midfielder Sabrina Flores scoring the final goal of the night soon after the period began. The Irish defense consistently stymied the Golden Grizzles to keep the margin wide.
“Obviously we finished really well and created a lot of offensive opportunities, and defensively we did well — put pressure on them, came up with the ball a lot,” Romagnolo said.
As the second half progressed with a secure Notre Dame lead, Romagnolo subbed in many of her bench players who had not seen the field much, if at all, in 2015.
“It’s awesome not just to rest [the starters] but to see some players that you don’t get to see as much, to give them the opportunity to perform in this type of environment,” Romagnolo said. “I thought they did great. I’m excited to evaluate those players as well.”
Overall, Romagnolo said she was pleased with her squad’s performance against Oakland.
“I think we’ve continued to get better over the course of the year. … We just looked really polished,” she said. “We had that extra week to focus on getting more polished. They’re confident and they’re excited. There are a lot of great things going on right now.”
The win was the third in a row for Notre Dame, who took down then-No. 5 Virginia Tech 3-0 in the last game of the regular season. Prior to Friday, the Irish had not scored more than three goals in a game since the 2015 season opener when they beat Valparaiso, 6-0.
With the victory, the Irish advance to face Connecticut in the second round next weekend in New Brunswick, New Jersey.
“It’s the first game. Check. Our goal is to play five more,” Romagnolo said. “Now it’s about preparing for that next game.”