ND Women’s Soccer
Irish knock off No. 5 Hokies
Marek Mazurek | Monday, November 2, 2015
Notre Dame’s top scorer, senior forward Anna Maria Gilbertson, tallied her 10th and 11th goals of the season Friday to lead the No. 14 Irish to a 3-0 victory over No. 5 Virginia Tech on Senior Night.
Going into the matchup, the Irish (13-4-1, 6-4-0 ACC) knew a win would still not put them into the conference tournament. Nevertheless, Notre Dame came out of the gate strong and generated a majority of the offensive pressure early in the contest. Junior forward Kaleigh Olmsted got off a point-blank shot 10 minutes into the game, but Hokies sophomore goalkeeper Kaylyn Smith made a quick save. With 17 minutes to go in the half, freshman forward Natalie Jacobs tallied a shot on goal, and two minutes later, senior defender Katie Naughton put a header just over the crossbar.
Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo said she was pleased with her team’s offensive effort in the first half.
“We were moving the ball exceptionally well,” Romagnolo said. “We were pinging it, people were moving off the ball well, creating support for each other. We were running into dangerous spaces behind the back four and I think we just had a great mentality to attack.”
The Irish kept the momentum going into the second half against Virginia Tech (14-3-2, 6-3-1), as Jacobs drew a corner kick and Smith had to make another tough save right off the bat.
Play halted with 31 minutes left as Virginia Tech freshman defender Megan Goudy was injured and taken off the field after she and Jacobs collided on another Irish scoring opportunity.
After the injury timeout, the pace of the game slowed, and Romagnolo substituted for sophomore defender/midfielder Sabrina Flores, bringing in sophomore defender Ginny McGowan.
The substitution proved to be key, as McGowan placed a shot past Smith in the 73rd minute off a cross from senior defender Brittany Von Rueden to put Notre Dame ahead 1-0.
Romagnolo said her decision to put McGowan in the game had to do with McGowan’s experience in key situations.
“Ginny’s played a lot for us this year,” Romagnolo said. “She has a lot of valuable experience and she’s a great defender, she can attack. She came in and obviously was ready to come in and have an impact. [I] love seeing people ready to step in and get it done.”
The goal turned out to be the turning point of the game for the Irish. Twenty-three seconds later, Gilbertson blasted a free kick into the upper-right corner of the net to give Notre Dame a 2-0 lead.
Even after going up two goals, the Irish continued to pepper Virginia Tech with shots. With 30 seconds left in the game, Gilbertson notched her second goal of the night on a cross from Flores to make the final score 3-0.
Gilbertson said scoring two goals in what might be the last home game of her career was a special experience.
“It means a lot to me,” Gilbertson said. “I’m so happy I could do that for my class and for this team. I think that this team is honestly national-championship caliber. … I was proud of everyone tonight, we played outstanding.”
The Irish will not make the ACC tournament. However, they are expected to make the field for the NCAA tournament.
Gilbertson said the team will use the break to begin preparing for the gauntlet ahead.
“We’ll take these days off to rest,” Gilbertson said. “Take care of our bodies, take some ice baths, whatever it takes to get your body ready again for Tuesday practice.
“ … It’s tournament time, there’s no holding back. We just have to go at believing in ourselves 100 percent.”
The Irish will learn their fate next Monday at 4:30 p.m., when the NCAA tournament field will be unveiled.