ND Women’s Soccer
Irish come up short against Duke bringing their season to a close
Observer Sports Staff | Friday, October 26, 2018
A true tale of two halves. With its postseason hopes on the line, Notre Dame hosted No. 10 Duke on Thursday for an emotional Senior Night. The Irish (8-10-0, 4-6-0 ACC) held off the Blue Devils (13-2-2, 7-1-) for the first half, but were unable to overcome Duke’s offensive attack following the halftime break and saw their season come to a close early with a 2-0 loss.
Needing a win to extend their season, the Irish came out with an aggressive mentality, recording two shots in the first 15 minutes, including a strong shot by graduate-student forward Karin Muya that hit the crossbar. Notre Dame continued to dominate the first 45 minutes of play, totaling eight shots compared to Duke’s four and forcing five fouls and an offsides call on the Blue Devils. Following Muya’s lead, the Irish showed a balanced attack to get multiple players involved, with junior forward Jennifer Westendorf, sophomore defender Jenna Winebrenner, senior midfielder Sabrina Flores, sophomore midfielder Sammi Fisher, freshman midfielder Brianna Martinez and sophomore forward Eva Hurm all taking a chance to put the Irish on the board. However, Notre Dame was unable to capitalize on this offensive dominance and finished the half in a scoreless tie.
All the momentum Notre Dame had from the first half quickly vanished at the feet of Duke senior midfielder Taylor Racioppi. Racioppi found the back of the net in the opening minutes of the second half when freshman forward Marykate McGuire crossed the ball to Racioppi. After the initial block by freshman goalkeeper Mattie Interian, Racioppi quickly recovered the rebound and shot past Interian to give the Blue Devils a one-goal lead. Sparked by Racioppi’s goal, the Duke offense proceeded to register a barrage of shots against Interian. Twenty minutes later, the McGuire-Racioppi duo struck again, this time off a free kick awarded due to a Notre Dame offsides call. McGuire received the free kick to set Racioppi up to fake the shot and poke the ball to the left of Interian toward the back goal post. This goal, the ninth of the season for Racioppi, allowed Duke’s defense to settle back and contain Notre Dame’s ensuing attack.
Although the Irish did manage to take three shots in the final quarter of the game, including one by Flores that was on goal, the game was generally marked by aggressive play following the two Blue Devil goals. There were eight fouls called in the final 25 minutes, five of which were against the Irish. With minutes left on the clock and their hopes to make a postseason run vanishing, Martinez was also yellow carded, adding to the Irish infractions.
This faceoff against the Blue Devils marked Senior Night for six Irish players: Muya, Flores, defender Natalie Ward, midfielder Shannon Hendricks, midfielder Ann Marie Niro and defender Rachel Heard. In their four years at Alumni Stadium, they earned a 47-26-12 record with their best finish coming last season when they advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16. This loss to the Blue Devils on Thursday left the Irish with a tie for ninth place in the ACC, eliminating them from the conference tournament.