ND Women’s Soccer
ND sweeps Big Ten foes at home
Marek Mazurek | Monday, September 14, 2015
The Big Ten came and left disappointed as the No. 13 Irish bested Indiana and Michigan over the weekend at Alumni Stadium.
The wins lifted the Irish to a 7-0-1 record in nonconference action this season before they head into ACC conference play from here on out.
On Friday, the Irish handled the Hoosiers (3-3-2), 2-0, with goals from freshman forward Natalie Jacobs and junior forward Kaleigh Olmsted.
Defensively it was a lockdown game for the Irish as they allowed only two shots on goal, and both came in the last 30 seconds of regulation. Also showing up defensively for the Irish was junior goalkeeper Kaela Little who made her first start of the season and made two diving saves to preserve the team’s fifth clean sheet of the season.
Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo said the key to victory for her team was its ability to keep the ball.
“I didn’t feel like we played very well the first half of that game,” Romagnolo said. “We were very individual. I think the second half we came out and moved the ball better. That’s who we are, We want to move the ball and move the opponent around to create opportunities.”
On Sunday against Michigan (5-3) the final result was the exact same: a 2-0 Irish win. The first half was chippy, however, with play being stopped every few minutes due to fouls. Irish senior defender Brittany Von Rueden earning a yellow card.
The Irish broke through the stalemate in the 25th minute as Jacobs capitalized off of a loose ball and slammed it into the back of the net for her fourth goal of the season.
Not to be left out of the scoring, senior forward Anna Maria Gilbertson took a long pass from junior midfielder Emily Geyer, slipped past a defender and sent a scorching shot past diving Wolverines sophomore goalkeeper Megan Hinz to give the Irish a 2-0 lead just ten minutes later. With Sunday’s goal, Gilbertson reclaimed her title as the team’s leading scorer with five goals on the season.
Gilbertson said the goal was due to trusting her coaches.
“My coaches told me to go out wide,” Gilbertson said. “I’d been dribbling inside most of the game and so I decided to take [the defender] on to the outside. [My coaches] were right, they gave me an opening. I thought, ‘Might as well just shoot it, get it in on net. Try and test out the keeper.’ And it went in.”
Though they went into the locker room with the lead, the Irish offense sputtered in the second half with the only real chance coming on a disallowed goal by Jacobs. Romagnolo said the lackluster second half performance was due to a lack of focus from her team in their offensive mindset.
“I think [the second half performance] was our lack of composure,” Romagnolo said. “We would pick the ball off and we would try to transition every single time. … For us it was a second half of playing defend together and transition game. It’s 2-0, we didn’t need to go to goal every time.”
The win for the Irish marks the end of their nonconference schedule. Starting next Friday, the Irish begin to face off against ACC opponents. And with six shutouts in the last eight games, Notre Dame seems to be in the right spot heading into conference play. Romagnolo said she is happy with how her team has been playing.
“As a coach, you always want more,” Romagnolo said. “I’m happy with where we’re at. Of course I see things that I want us to continue to get better at. But we’re at a really great point at this stage. I think the area we can improve on is to have the composure to keep the ball when we win it.”
The Irish will begin ACC play Friday when they travel to Clemson, South Carolina, to take on the Tigers at 7 p.m. at Riggs Field.