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ND Women’s Soccer: Late goal dooms Irish

Jack Hefferon | Wednesday, August 22, 2012

They had more shots, more corners and the lion’s share of possession. But after a single defensive lapse in the 84th minute, No. 12 Notre Dame found itself behind in the only category that matters, losing 1-0 at Wisconsin on Friday in its season opener.

The Irish (0-1) dominated the run of play early in the match, and freshman forward Anna Maria Gilbertson almost opened the scoring in first minute when her strike was tipped just past the right post. The attack continued throughout the game’s first half-hour, as Notre Dame generated a number of chances that kept the Badgers (1-0) on their heels. However, the team was unable to bury any of its several scoring chances, and the game remained scoreless at halftime.

“Going back and looking at the video, I think we could have been up by two or three in the first 20 minutes,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “We created some really good chances and just didn’t convert.”

In the second half, chances for both teams were few and far between, as the Irish failed to continue applying pressure to the Wisconsin goal. With two standout midfielders – sophomore Mandy Laddish and freshman Cari Roccaro – out on national team duty at the Under-20 World Cup, the team was unable to generate quality chances in the middle and resorted to simply kicking balls deep.

“We weren’t really good in our possession,” Waldrum said. “We kind of got caught up in their long ball style of play, and that took us out of what we wanted to do.

“Mandy and Cari add so much to our midfield, and our midfield is really key to making things tick for us. I think they would have made a huge difference in the game, but we have enough quality here that we don’t want to use that as a crutch going forward.”

The lack of possession would cost Notre Dame in the last 10 minutes, as the Badgers won a late free kick and found senior midfielder Monica Lam-Feist on a quick through ball. Lam-Feist split the Irish defense, and Wisconsin’s only shot of the half beat freshman goalkeeper Elyse Hight off the post.

Waldrum said that he was pleased by the defense’s play for most of the game, but was frustrated by the team’s inability to close out the game and ensure at least a draw.

“I hope [giving up late goals] doesn’t become a thing for the season, for sure,” he said. “I think we’re going to play in a lot of close games, especially with the type of schedule we have early in the year. These teams we’re playing aren’t going to give up a lot of goals. These are going to be games that are in the balance, and they’re going to be won or lost late.”

After losing their season opener for the first time since Waldrum’s debut in 1999, the Irish will look to rebound on the road this Friday against Tulsa, their coach’s former team.

According to Waldrum though, if the Irish can bring a result back from Oklahoma, it’ll be worth much more later in the season than just a win for their coach.

“I think that program is going to be very eager to beat us, primarily because we’re Notre Dame, but also because I’m here, as well,” he said. “And even at seven at night, it’ll probably still be 95 degrees in Tulsa, so the kids are going to have to deal with the heat, plus there’s travel, so it won’t be easy. But we think that if we throw our team into these situations early in the season, they’ll be better prepared for anything later on.”

The Irish face Tulsa on Friday at 8:30 p.m. in Tulsa, Okla.

Contact Jack Hefferon at [email protected]