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ND Women’s Soccer: Irish beat Orange on late goal

By Greg Hadley | Friday, September 20, 2013

After 89 minutes of scoreless soccer on Thursday, No. 4 Notre Dame seemed fated for overtime and a possible crushing defeat against Syracuse. Then, with just three seconds left in the game, junior defense Sammy Scofield’s header in the box sneaked past the Orange (4-5, 0-3 ACC) defense and gave the Irish (7-1, 3-0 ACC) a thrilling 1-0 victory.

With a minute to go, the Irish made one last desperate push forward to try and avoid extra time. Then, with thirty seconds left, sophomore forward Cari Rocarro drew a foul outside the box and sent the free kick on goal. The shot was punched out on the goal line by Orange goalkeeper Brittany Anghel but sophomore defense Brittany Von Rueden won the resulting jump ball and headed it to Scofield for the assist. 

“I was just nervous we weren’t going to get the kick off,” Scofield said. “Morgan fed a great ball and Britt flicked it to me so it was really all Britt on that one.”

With the win, the Irish remain undefeated in conference play and avoided a letdown after an impressive road trip that included their first victory in the ACC and an upset of then No. 1 North Carolina.

For most of the game, though, it looked as if the Orange would force a tie at the least. Throughout the first half, the Irish generated only a few opportunities, as the Syracuse defense bent but did not break.

“They would drop down deep to defend, and it just gave us so much time and space,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “That gave us control of the game and most of the possession and they were willing to let us have it in our back third as long as we didn’t get behind them. So in the first half we didn’t put them under enough stress.”

The Irish’s best chance of the half came 13 minutes in, when junior forward Lauren Bohaboy’s header off a cornerkick got by the goalkeeper but was cleared off the line by an Orange defender. After that, though the Irish led in shots, 7-2, Syracuse clamped down and the game remained scoreless. 

However, the Irish made adjustments at halftime and entered the second period more aggressive, taking more shots and generating better chances. Before Scofield’s goal, Notre Dame forced the Orange to make four saves in the second half alone. 

“We were a little better as the game went on,” Waldrum said. “I was pleased at how we moved forward on offense, and it was great to that goal and avoid overtime, because anything can happen then.”

The Irish defense, meanwhile, kept the game even with a physical style that quickly shut down any Syracuse counterattack. With the shutout, freshman goalkeeper Kaela Little posted her fourth clean sheet of the year already.

“I think our backline was pretty solid today,” Scofield said. “We kept it tight back there and didn’t give the ball away easily.”

For Waldrum, the defense’s performance was simply more of the usual during an outstanding early season. 

“We’ve been good all season defensively,” Waldrum. “Defensively, I don’t worry about us too much. But I’m proud of how we’re playing. That’s two shutouts in three ACC games. Clean sheets are really important to us. Our defense is the kind that you can build around.”

More importantly, the Irish are gaining more and more confidence as a team, as they begin a tough four game homestand of exclusively conference opponents.

“The ACC is a tough conference, so we need to make sure we get wins at home,” Scofield said. “Not every one is going to be pretty, but good teams need to put up results and that’s what we did tonight.”

The Irish next play Thursday at 7 P.M. against No. 21 Maryland at Alumni Stadium.

Contact Greg Hadley at [email protected]