ND Women’s Soccer
Irish prepare for Senior Day, Virginia Tech
Observer Sports Staff | Thursday, October 12, 2017
On Saturday the Irish will host the Hokies of Virginia Tech in an important ACC matchup. The Irish are buzzing off a 2-0 win against the Orange last Sunday, their third ACC win of the season thus far.
Being the last home game of the regular season, Saturday’s game will also serve as Senior Day. The 2017 seniors — 12 members on the current roster — have combined for 502 games played and 127 points tallied in total over their careers.
The Irish are riding a wave of strong offensive performances into this matchup. In their last nine games, the Irish have been kept off the score sheet just once, and have scored multiple goals in five of those nine games.
Much of this momentum is being driven by sophomore duo Jen Westendorf and Natalie Jacobs. Westendorf’s six goals last season led the team, but Jacobs has surpassed this and then some, already burying nine goals with four games left to be played.
In addition to its strong offense, the Irish have been playing strong defense. Their experienced backline supports senior starting goalkeeper Lexi Nicholas, who took over the starting role midway though the year. Nicholas will look for her second consecutive clean sheet against the Hokies.
When Virginia Tech arrives on Saturday they will bring a middling offense with them. The Hokies have scored just one goal in their last six games, losing three and tying the other three.
Virginia Tech senior forward Alani Johnson has a scorer’s touch and will look to put it on display Sunday. Her four goals pace the Hokies this season, and her 5’9” frame give her a great chance to win head balls. The Irish have some size on their backline in 5’7” senior defender Ginny McGowan and 5’8” junior defender Rachel Heard. The battle for crosses in the Irish box will be a battle to watch with all that height on display.
The Irish hold an ACC record of 3-2-1 at this point of the season with four games left. A win against the Hokies would go a long way towards the Irish securing home field advantage in the ACC quarterfinals. The Irish are in a three-way tie for fifth in the conference, just two points behind third-place Florida State. The four top finishers in the ACC get to host first round matchups, so the Irish will look to do all they can bring the first game to South Bend.
After this game, the Irish will have a trio of road matchups against Florida State, UNC and Miami. If the Irish can win two of those games (especially against Florida State, who they currently trail in the standings), they’ll be in a strong position to secure one of the byes.
The Irish will take on the Hokies at Alumni Stadium in an ACC matchup at 7 p.m. on Saturday. The senior team members will be honored before the game.