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ND Women’s Soccer

Irish drop two over weekend

| Monday, September 1, 2014

Despite leading at halftime in both games, No. 11 Notre Dame lost 2-1 to both No. 16 Texas Tech and Southern California this weekend at Alumni Stadium during the 22nd annual Notre Dame Invitational.

The first game pitted the Irish (2-2, 0-0 ACC) against Texas Tech (3-0, 0-0 Big XII) in a matchup of ranked teams Friday. The Irish struck in the 15th minute when junior captain and defender Katie Naughton headed a corner kick from freshman defender Sabrina Flores into the back of the net from six yards out. It was Flores’ first career assist and Naughton’s second goal of the season.

Flores’ strong weekend caught the attention of Irish assistant coach Dawn Siergiej, who said the freshman’s contributions went beyond the box score.

“Sabrina was fantastic all weekend,” Siergiej said. “Especially Friday, she started off a little slow in the first 10 minutes or so, but after that, she gained her legs and was dominant. I thought she was one of our better players all weekend.”

The Irish held their 1-0 lead until halftime, outshooting the Red Raiders 5-3 prior to the break. Texas Tech attacked with renewed vigor after coming back on the field for the second half, however, scoring two quick goals to take back the lead.

The first Texas Tech goal came when junior forward Hannah Devine headed home an accurate cross from senior defender Jaelene Hinkle. Less than thirty seconds later, junior forward Janine Beckie scooped up a loose ball and drove it past the gloves of sophomore Irish goalkeeper Kaela Little, providing the game’s final goal.

The Irish attempted eight more shots in the game, but were unable to get another one past Texas Tech’s sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Watson, who had seven saves Friday.

Prior to Sunday’s game against USC (3-0-1, 0-0-0 Pac-12), Irish freshman goalkeeper Lexi Nicholas was named the starter after Little came down with an illness. Nicholas made three saves in her first-ever regular-season action, and although the Irish failed to pull out a victory, Siergiej praised Nicholas’ effort and ability to be ready at a moment’s notice.

“I think Lexi was huge for us today, in a lot of ways,” Siergiej said. “Kaela is a great goalkeeper, and unfortunately we lost her during the warm up. To have a goalkeeper as a backup find out she’s starting [that late], especially as a freshman — I was extremely proud of how [Nicholas] handled that.”

Other than the switch in goal, Sunday’s match had a similar narrative to the weekend’s first for the Irish. Notre Dame was aggressive early and dominated the ball, eventually capitalizing when senior forward Lauren Bohaboy scored her third goal of the season from 16 yards out in the 19th minute. Junior midfielder Cari Roccaro assisted on the play. The Irish outshot the Trojans 11-2 in the first half and again went to the locker room with a 1-0 lead.

When the whistle blew for the second half, however, it was the Trojans on the attack. USC had four times as many shot attempts after halftime than it had in the first half, scoring twice on eight shots.

In the 65th minute, USC tied the game when sophomore forward Savannah Levin drilled a shot into the top left corner of the net from close range on an assist from junior midfielder Jamie Fink. The 1- 1 score line lasted only until the 72nd minute, when Trojans junior midfielder Reilly Parker made a sliding goal off a cross from junior forward Tamara Mejia to give USC a 2-1 lead.

Notre Dame continued to challenge after falling behind, earning a penalty kick in the 74th minute. Trojans senior goalkeeper Caroline Stanley was able to make the save on Irish junior midfielder Glory Williams’ attempt, however, and Notre Dame’s shot off the rebound went far over the net to end the threat.

After Notre Dame failed to hold a halftime lead in back-to-back games, Siergiej said the Irish have a busy week of practice ahead to ensure they maintain focus for all 90 minutes of every game moving forward.

“We came out strong in both games and played well,” Siergiej said. “Going in [at the half] with a 1-0 lead, we have to come out with a sense of urgency, to not just defend that lead, but build upon it. That’s more the mentality of this program, and it’s something we pride ourselves on. Obviously, this weekend, we had two games where we’ve let that slide.”

Next week, the Irish travel to Santa Clara, Calif., to play Santa Clara on Friday.

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