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ND Women’s Soccer

Notre Dame’s season blighted by ACC losses

| Friday, May 13, 2016

The ACC was the best conference in the NCAA this season, head and shoulders above the rest, placing five teams in the top-10 of the season’s final NSCAA Coaches Poll, prior to the start of the NCAA tournament. 

And Notre Dame was one of them.

The Irish (14-5-1, 6-4-0) worked their way to a winning record in nation’s best conference this past season, securing victories on the road over the likes of top-ranked Virginia and eventual national runner-up Duke. But they also did their share of faltering against the ACC’s best, going just 3-3 against the conference’s ranked teams.

“We got those games against top-10 opponents, and those games are so close,” Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo said. “They’re often separated by one individual doing something special, so some games, that was us and other games, that was somebody else.

“I like to believe that we can win every game that we step on the field to do because of our talent and our preparation, but, in some of those games, they did something special to beat us or we made a mistake and we learned from it going into that next game. The season is about growth, and, over the course of the year, we continued to grow, learn from our mistakes and continued to get batter at a lot of things.”

Outside the conference, the Irish cruised to a record of 8-1-1, securing wins over the likes of a ranked Santa Clara team and rivals Indiana and Michigan. Their one loss? To Connecticut, in the second round of the NCAA tournament, bringing an early and disappointing end to what was otherwise a strong season.

“I think it was a good season,” Romagnolo said. “At a place like Notre Dame, you always set your sights pretty high, so, at the end, we were disappointed because we hoped we could have gone further in the NCAA tournament. And that wasn’t our best game that we ended on, so that can be tough to finish with a game that doesn’t represent how good you are.”

At many times this season, the team was only as good as senior forward Anna Maria Gilbertson was. She led the team with 13 goals, 29 points and 110 shots. She ranked first and fifth in shots and goals, respectively, in the conference, which meant her performance often spelled success for the Irish.

“Anna was an unbelievable player to play with out there,” junior midfielder Sandra Yu said. “She was pretty special when she was on the ball. She did some pretty incredible things this season for us, but having someone like that on your team, and knowing that at any given moment they can fire a shot and score and having that weapon was incredible.”

Irish senior forward Anna Maria Gilbertson dribbles away from a defender during Notre Dame's 2-1 victory over Santa Clara on August 28 at Alumni Stadium.Michael Yu | The Observer

Irish senior forward Anna Maria Gilbertson dribbles away from a defender during Notre Dame’s 2-1 victory over Santa Clara on August 28 at Alumni Stadium.

And although Gilbertson will be one of six seniors — including five starters — who graduates this spring, Romagnolo said Notre Dame grew collectively this year, which is why the team was successful this season and why it will be successful next season as well.

“Over the course of the season, I was really happy with how we played and the performances that we — for the most part — put forth on the field,” Romagnolo said. “We grew as a team, and we had some really incredible performances along the way. Some great individuals grew and had great seasons, so on the whole I thought it was a very good season.

“… To be honest, we’re all really excited for next season. We saw [this season] that we have a lot of potential.”

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About Benjamin Padanilam

As The Observer's Editor-in-Chief, Ben is a senior in the Program of Liberal Studies (PLS) who is pursuing minors in Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) and Business Economics as well. He hails from Toledo, Ohio, and has enjoyed the few highs and many lows of being a Cleveland sports fan.

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