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ND Women’s Soccer: Irish set new NCAA record

Alex Barker | Monday, October 5, 2009

The Irish traveled to Morgantown, W.Va., Friday with an opportunity to cement their name atop the list of elite programs in NCAA history. And that’s exactly what they did.

Junior forward Taylor Knaack’s first goal of the season, which came 41 seconds into overtime, gave No. 8 Notre Dame a 3-2 victory over Big East foe West Virginia and extended the team’s conference unbeaten streak to an NCAA-record 56 games. The Irish followed up that performance with a 0-0 tie against Pittsburgh Sunday, despite outshooting the Panthers 25-7.

Notre Dame (8-3-1, 4-0-1 Big East) broke out to an early lead against West Virginia off sophomore Melissa Henderson’s goal 17 minutes into the match. Henderson ran a give-and-go off junior Rose Augustin before taking a short-ranged shot that squeezed through the hands of the Mountaineer goalkeeper.

After that, West Virginia (4-4-4, 1-2-1) mounted a comeback that had the Irish back on their heels. After a shot from 35-yards out that hit the crossbar, West Virginia capitalized on the rebound by touching the ball just past Irish senior goalkeeper Kelsey Lysander to tie the game just before halftime.

Early in the second half, West Virginia struck again. This time, the slippery weather conditions, rather than the Mountaineers, proved too much to handle on the play. Lysander, seeming to have a beat on the long distance Mountaineer shot, slipped as she was moving laterally to make the save, allowing the ball to sneak just inside the far post.

But the Irish would not be denied a victory. Just minutes after the go-ahead goal, senior defender Haley Ford hit back. After a cross from Augustin that was mishandled by the Mountaineer keeper, Ford raced in and sent a header into the back of the net to regain momentum and hope for the Irish.

As regulation came to a close, Notre Dame really turned up the pressure offensively. Augustin once again found herself in the middle of the action after receiving a ball over the top from junior Julie Scheidler, but sent a diving volley just over the crossbar.

With under a minute to play, Henderson swung in a cross that found freshman Tereza Stastny in the center of the box, but her header deflected off the post before being cleared out.

The Mountaineers couldn’t hold off the Irish for much longer. From the opening kickoff in overtime, Notre Dame took the ball straight down the field where sophomore Molly Campbell’s cross found Knaack on the back post for the game-winner.

Against Pittsburgh (6-2-4, 1-0-4), an equally effective Irish offense was unable to break through for a goal in the muddy conditions. Junior Nikki Weiss got the start in net for the Irish, recording a career-high four saves in her first career complete-game shutout.

The tie breaks the Irish’s four-game Big East winning streak on the season. However, Notre Dame remains atop the conference standings with 13 points.

The Irish will continue its string of road contests with two more conference showdowns against No. 13 Rutgers Friday and at Seton Hall Sunday.