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ND Women’s Soccer

Notre Dame look to ride momentum from NC State into Wake Forest game

| Friday, September 29, 2017

The No. 22 Irish will wrap up a three-game home stand Friday night against No. 20 Wake Forest.

Notre Dame (6-3-2, 2-1-0 ACC) is buzzing after a 4-0 win over then-No. 24 North Carolina State on Sunday, and will look to ride this newfound momentum into Friday’s ACC matchup.

Irish sophomore forward Natalie Jacobs chases down an opponent during Notre Dame’s 3-0 loss to Duke on Sept. 21 at Alumni Stadium. Jacobs is currently Notre Dame’s leading scorer with 19 points on the year.Zach Yim | The Observer

Irish sophomore forward Natalie Jacobs chases down an opponent during Notre Dame’s 3-0 loss to Duke on Sept. 21 at Alumni Stadium. Jacobs is currently Notre Dame’s leading scorer with 19 points on the year.

Blowouts of ranked teams are hard to earn according to Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo. Romagnolo said she was impressed with her team’s performance against the Wolfpack (8-2-1, 1-1-1).

“Defensively, against NC State, we were very tenacious and broke up a lot of plays. We were able to break things up and come away with the ball,” Romagnolo said. “We kept possession and kept moving the ball. We did a great job of moving without the ball too. We connected a lot of passes and opened up some pockets for us to attack.”

Irish senior goalkeeper Lexi Nicholas made her first start of the season against NC State and made one critical save at the end of the first half to earn a shutout. Romagnolo said her presence in net adds even more experience to an upperclassman-heavy Irish back line.

“It was Lexi’s first start and her first shutout,” Romagnolo said. “We wanted to give her a look and I thought she did really well. She made a great play at the end of the first half on a free kick. We have two great goalkeepers [in Nicholas and sophomore Brooke Littman] and moving forward, we feel great about where both of them are.”

The Irish picked up two goals from graduate student midfielder Sandra Yu and sophomore forward Natalie Jacobs against the Wolfpack, adding to their team-leading totals of six and eight goals, respectively. Jacobs has already scored two more goals this season than any Irish player did last season, and the Irish are not even two-thirds of the way though this year.

“Sandra and Natalie have been doing this all year. They’ve done a great job of finding pockets in the back four and running at defenders one-on-one,” Romagnolo said. “Both have good instinct for where to be in the box. They’re fearless when it comes to attacking balls in the air and fielding crosses. They bring a lot of quality to our team.”

When Wake Forest (8-2-1, 2-1-0) arrives Friday, it will bring a stingy defense with it. The Demon Deacons have only conceded three goals in their 11 games this season. Only two of the Demon Deacons’ regular-season opponents have been able to score against Wake Forest this season. Wake Forest has lost two out of the three games it has conceded goals in. Romagnolo believes the Demon Deacons present a good challenge for the Irish.

“Wake Forest is a great possession team,” Romagnolo said. “They do a good job of spreading teams out defensively and they have players that can attack the goal and break you down. It’s early in the year, any number of players from their team can step up and score, we need to be ready to defend as a group.”

Wake Forest junior midfielder Bayley Feist and freshman forward Hannah Betfort lead Wake Forest in goals with four each. The combination is threatening, and Betfort’s 5-foot-11 frame makes her a threat to win headers in the box, but Notre Dame has some size to match in 5-foot-7 senior defender Ginny McGowan and 5-foot-8 junior defender Rachel Heard.

The Irish will take on the Demon Deacons at Alumni Stadium at 5 p.m. Friday.

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