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ND Women’s Soccer: Lysander shines in semifinal win

Deirdre Krasula | Friday, December 5, 2008

Cary, N.C. – Kelsey Lysander hasn’t seen much action this season, but she hasn’t been on the bench either. She’s just had the good fortune of never having to make more than six saves a game. That changed as Lysander came up big for Notre Dame with a season-high of seven saves in its 1-0 defeat over Stanford in the semifinals of the College Cup.

The Cardinal out-shot the Irish 20-12, just the third time all season Notre Dame fell behind on the shot tally.

But Stanford was held off by a strong Irish defense with Lysander as the backbone.

“We just unfortunately didn’t break the ice, their goalkeeper came up with some big plays,” Cardinal coach Paul Ratcliffe said.

And even though she had rarely found herself in that position, Lysander never faltered.

“Of course tonight Kelsey was fantastic in goal for us, a couple of really big saves to keep us in the lead and I think good teams have to have that,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “You want to score goals and you need to score goals but I think at the end in most sports you always talk about defense wining championships and I was really proud of that tonight.”

Notre Dame had a save margin against opponents of 53-207 leading up to the semi-final match, but even with such a large spread on the season, Lysander has never lost sight of her role.

“As a goalkeeper you have one job to do and that’s to keep the ball out of the back of the net no matter if it’s 20 shots, 100 shots, one shot, you know,” Lysander said. “It only takes one shot for them to score a goal so you’re gonna be nervous, it’s the Final Four, you know Stanford’s an amazing team. You have to respect that but you just have to stay focused and kind of use your excitedness to work for you instead of against you.”

In the 26th minute of the first half, Stanford’s Kelley O’Hara tested the Irish nerves. When O’Hara broke free behind the Irish back line and forced Lysander to test her reaction time, the goalaie answered.

“I had to make a decision whether or not to come out and smother it … or if I hold my ground, and I decided just to hold my ground and make more of a reaction save because, just to get the backs a chance possibly to come back in,” Lysander said. “… But she ended up getting off the shot … It was total reaction which is something that we work on all the time in practice and in the games it’s just second-nature, you just have to react.”

Stanford kept the pressure on, keeping the ball in its offensive end and less than five minutes later Lysander was forced to react again.

O’Hara drove the ball down the flank before sending a cross straight into the box. Lysander again decided to hold her line, leaving her in the right spot to receive Cardinal forward Christen Press’ forceful header.

Deciding whether or not to hold the line can make or break a goalkeeper, and that knowledge comes with experience. Lysander’s confidence has only grown the further Notre Dame has advanced in the tournament.

“You have to always have confidence in that aspect of your game, just because those are the key saves that you need to make for your team, just be that wall in the back,” she said.