ND Women’s Soccer
Irish grab two wins to end non-conference play
Greg Hadley | Sunday, September 14, 2014
After four straight games against top-25 opponents, No. 19 Notre Dame headed into the weekend hoping to avoid letdowns against unranked Baylor and Toledo. In two games, the Irish accomplished just that, recording a 1-0 win Friday over the Bears and a 2-1 decision to top the Rockets on Sunday.“I was pleased,” Irish coach Theresa Romagnolo said. “I thought we played well this weekend. I thought we lacked a little bit of urgency in the 18-yard box … but at the end of the day … we found a way to get the job done.”
The Irish (5-2-1) dominated possession in both games and outshot their opponents 34-12, on the weekend. The team was able to maintain pressure and keep possession by pushing its defense forward and keeping the ball past midfield, Romagnolo said.
Junior defender Katie Naughton scored her third goal of the season on a header against Baylor (5-3-0) off of one of Notre Dame’s 15 corner kicks in the two games, compared to just one each for the Bears and Rockets (3-3-1).
“It’s a funny game sometimes, especially when you have the ball for 90-percent of the game,” Romagnolo said. “Our defensive line was a result of us possessing the ball and getting so many players forward on the attack.”
Naughton scored just before halftime, in the 44th minute, with the assist coming from fellow defender, freshman Sabrina Flores. The Irish bunkered down in the second half, shooting the ball three times while weathering six from the Bears, as well as six Baylor fouls.
Sophomore midfielder Morgan Andrews dominated against the Rockets on Sunday, scoring both goals, including a penalty kick, which came off of a foul she drew in the box. Andrews, who leads the team in shots (25) and is tied for the lead in goals (3), led all shooters in both games and put six shots on goal against Toledo.
“Morgan Andrews put the team on her back,” Romagnolo said.
The Irish had several opportunities against Toledo in the first half, but were unable to put any away. They led in shots, 12-1, at the midpoint, but failed to convert on several good crosses, Romagnolo said.
“Anticipating and having that killer instinct to jump in front of a defender [is something we need to work on],” Romagnolo said. “Just making something happen inside the 18-yard box.”
Notre Dame finally broke through in the 53rd minute after posting five shots in the opening minutes of the half. Sophomore forward Kaleigh Olmsted made a run down the left side of the field before serving the ball in to Andrews.
After that, the Irish maintained possession and kept the ball in the midfield area before surrendering an equalizer in the 76th minute to Toledo sophomore forward Kiersten Johnson. A bad pass allowed the Rockets’ offense to chip one over the head of sophomore goalkeeper Kaela Little.“We had a lapse and allowed the goal [Sunday],” Romagnolo said. “You kind of get lulled into a false sense of security. It only takes one chance, and the other team capitalized on its one chance today. … We’ve got to make better decisions on the ball.”
Little only had to make eight saves in both games combined and extended her shutout streak to more than 400 minutes before the score in the 76th minute. Little’s shutout of Baylor was her fourth on the year. After the weekend, her goals against average stands at 0.55.
With extra time looming in the 88th minute, Andrews went down hard in the penalty area after being pushed by a Toledo defender to draw the free kick. She buried the attempt in the lower left corner to secure the win.
It was Notre Dame’s second penalty kick in as many games. Against Baylor, Irish junior forward Mary Schwappach’s shot ricocheted down off the crossbar and was covered up by Bears sophomore goalkeeper Sara Martinson.
“It’s a great sign [that we got two penalty kicks],” Romagnolo said. “It shows that we’re being aggressive and we’re trying to go one-v-one in the box.”
Irish junior midfielder Cari Roccaro sat out both games due to injury and was replaced in part by freshman defender Ginny McGowan, who logged 102 minutes of playing time and three shots, one on goal, over the weekend.
“She’s done very well,” Romagnolo said. “She’s playing out of position because she’s used to playing center back, so we’re trying to get her some minutes. She brings some good quality on the ball, and she’s a very good defender.”
The Irish begin conference play Saturday when they welcome ACC rival and 10th-ranked North Carolina to Alumni Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.