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ND Women’s Soccer

Irish rebound with home victory over Western Michigan

| Tuesday, August 30, 2016

After a tough loss on the road to rival Michigan in their last game, the Irish faced off against Western Michigan on Monday night in a game that was postponed a day due to lightning. The final whistle saw Notre Dame use a large rotation and high pressure to cruise to a 3-0 win.

The first half started slowly, as both teams were tight defensively and waited for an opening. The Irish (3-1, 0-0 ACC) looked dangerous on the counter, especially junior forward Karin Muya, whose pace posed problems for the Western Michigan defense. She came close to scoring in the first five minutes from just outside the six-meter box, after senior captain Kaleigh Olmsted played a through ball to her. But it was a tight angle and the shot went into the side netting.

Notre Dame’s pressure and high-defensive line kept the ball in the Broncos’ half, and as the game drew on, the Irish started to take control. In the 19th minute, the deadlock was broken when an Olmsted cross bounced off a Western Michigan defender and into the net, giving Notre Dame the 1-0 lead and putting the Irish in the driver’s seat.

Irish senior forward Kaleigh Olmsted closes out the ball carrier during Notre Dame's 1-0 victory over Wisconsin on Aug. 21 at Alumni Stadium.Caitlyn Jordan | The Observer

Irish senior forward Kaleigh Olmsted closes out the ball carrier during Notre Dame’s 1-0 victory over Wisconsin on Aug. 21 at Alumni Stadium.

As the half went on, the Irish started to dominate, pushing the Broncos (2-1, 0-0 MAC) further and further into their own half. Notre Dame struck again in the 38th minute when senior midfielder Cindy Pineda played a ball through to Muya, who controlled and slotted a composed finish past the Bronco keeper for the second Irish goal.

“I thought she was buzzing and very active,” Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo said about Muya. “She created a lot for herself and made some good passes, so I thought she played well.”

Western Michigan struggled to create chances, and its closest effort came from a 25-yard free kick from junior midfielder Kendall Juhnke that went wide. Senior Irish goalkeeper Kaela Little was largely untroubled in a solid first-half defensive display for the Irish.

In the second half, Notre Dame picked up right where it had left off, putting the pressure on the Broncos early with a corner kick. Irish junior forward Meghan Doyle had a lively start to the half, with a good chance early that was saved by the goalkeeper and a few minutes later had a goal disallowed on an offsides call.

But only seconds later Doyle got her goal, when Muya played her in and the junior finished to put the Irish up by three. Western Michigan pushed forward looking for a response, and although they did force Little to make two saves, the Broncos looked particularly vulnerable at the back, and Irish freshman forward Jennifer Westendorf came close on the counter with a shot just wide. The Irish looked particularly dangerous on corner kicks, with a number of chances that were cleared off the line, and the final whistle blew with no further goals.

“I think there are still things in the game that we obviously want to keep getting better at,” Romagnolo said. “Our decision making out of the back was better; I thought we didn’t force it as much as we have been, and just continuing to read different situations. These two teams this weekend I think will give us maybe some different systems to look at, and we’ll have to read those.”

The Irish next take to the pitch when they host Illinois State at Alumni Stadium on Friday at 7 p.m. before welcoming Missouri on Sunday at 5 p.m.

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About Tobias Hoonhout

Toby is a junior PLS/Economics double major from Smithtown, New York.

Contact Tobias