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ND Women’s Soccer: Notre Dame opens season with win over Wisconsin

Megan Golden | Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Junior goalkeeper Maddie Fox gathered three saves in her first collegiate start for the Irish, giving the defending national champions a defensive advantage in their 2-0 shutout over Wisconsin Friday at Notre Dame’s Alumni Stadium.

Irish coach Randy Waldrum said Fox’s performance ultimately determined the outcome of the game on a day when few Wisconsin shots found their way through the Irish defense during their first regular season home game.

“Defensively, I thought we gave a couple of looks from a distance that we shouldn’t have given. Maddie made a couple of good saves there, where [Wisconsin] could have been in the game even though we dominated it,” Waldrum said. “I think our players are aware that you have to finish those chances because this game could have been a different story if they score one of those goals.”

No. 1 Notre Dame (1-0, 0-0 Big East) had several opportunities to blow open its lead, but a few Irish miscues and an outstanding performance from Wisconsin senior goalie Michelle Dalton kept the game close all night. Dalton recorded 10 saves for the Badgers (0-1), who finished 7-1-2 in the Big Ten last season.

Sophomore forward Adriana Leon, fresh off a foot injury, got the Irish off to a 1-0 start with 2:43 remaining in the first half. Notre Dame senior forward Melissa Henderson earned the assist as she wove her way around a collapsing Badger defense and sent a deflected pass toward Leon.

Notre Dame came out and controlled the ball for the majority of the second half, barely surpassing a team goal of 400 passes per game with 401, and limiting the Badgers to just 103 passes.

“It’s hard when you’re against a team that drops off continuously, but you have to just continually run at them,” Henderson said. “I think we did a great job at trying to keep it, switching the field and changing it up. I think we have a lot of work to do, but at the same time we are really progressing and getting better at it.”

Just over 15 minutes into the second half, Irish senior midfielder Molly Campbell crossed the ball to an isolated Henderson, who headed the ball into the net. The goal sent the crowd of over 1,700 into a frenzy as the Irish were able to capitalize on a rare mistake by Wisconsin’s defense.

Waldrum was not thoroughly pleased with his team’s overall shot selection.

“I think the one thing we’ve got to continue to work on is we probably missed a few scoring opportunities that we could have won a little easier than we did,” Waldrum said. “We’ve got to get better at finishing those chances because you’re only going to get a few against good teams.

Not to take anything away from Wisconsin, but we had enough good chances to win by more than 2-0 today.”

The Irish have never lost when Henderson records a goal or an assist. Quick to shy away from the spotlight, Henderson said despite being double and triple-teamed, she is equally as talented as her teammates on the field.

“I’m honestly just as good as anyone else out there, so I feel like it’s just unfortunate that I have multiple defenders out there,” she said.

Waldrum said Henderson understands that being double and triple-teamed comes with being a high-caliber athlete.

“Mel’s got to get used to that because everybody knows her in the country. She is that player of the year in all that preseason balloting, but I think she’s been watched closely over the last couple years here,” Waldrum said. “I don’t think it’s anything new to her, but I do think you need somebody stepping in and scoring goals.”

The Irish return to action against North Carolina Friday at 7 p.m. in the first game of the Carolina Classic in Chapel Hill, N.C.