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ND Women’s Soccer

Irish looking for second-straight win over ranked opponent

| Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Irish are hosting a conference matchup against North Carolina this Thursday after a win this past Sunday over North Carolina State.

Notre Dame (6-6-0, 2-2-0 ACC) gave a strong showing against No. 12 North Carolina State (8-3-2, 1-1-1 ACC) this past weekend. This was Notre Dame’s first win of the season against a ranked opponent, beating the Wolfpack 2-1.

Anna Mason | The Observer
Irish graduate-student forward Karin Muya dribbles the ball during Notre Dame’s 4-0 loss to Florida State on Sept. 27 at Alumni Stadium.

Irish head coach Nate Norman was pleased with the team’s performance.

“It was a game against a great opponent that we had to win,” he said “I felt we controlled most of the game.”

The first goal for the Irish was made off of a header from graduate-student forward Karin Muya early in the game. The second, by junior forward Jennifer Westendorf, was scored off of a rebound on the crossbar midway through the second quarter.

Westendorf has been one of Notre Dame’s key offensive players. Her team-leading 10 points have paced the Irish through most of the season, contributing a team-high four assists and tying Muya to lead the team in goals at three. She has been named a game leader for every game the Irish have played this season.

Norman was confident in his team’s ability to get the win against the Wolfpack.

“Even after we gave up the goal against the run of play, our response was tremendous,” he said. “It took us until the second half to find the winner, but I felt we always believed we would get the winner.”

Coming off the high of a big win, the Irish are faced with the challenge of taking on the Tar Heels (9-2-1, 4-0-0 ACC), the third-ranked team in the nation and first-ranked team in the ACC. UNC dominated its last game against Louisville with a 5-1 win, and the team is currently on a four-game win streak.

Despite the Cardinals’ strong start, scoring their lone goal in the first five minutes, the Tar Heels silenced the Cardinals, controlling the field early and scoring all five of their goals in the first 49 minutes of the game. North Carolina had three times the amount of shots on goal and double the number of corner kicks Louisville recorded during the game.

In preparation for the upcoming game, the Irish know that besting the Tar Heels will not be easy.

Norman explained the preparation the team is going through this week.

“We are going to concentrate on improving in the areas we need to get better in,” he said. “[We need to] find the best ways to attack them offensively and break up their rhythm defensively. They have some very talented players and we have to be able to make those players as uncomfortable as possible.”

Some of those talented Tar Heels Norman mentioned include redshirt-sophomore forward Taylor Otto and sophomore forward Alessia Russo, who each contributed two goals against the Cardinals. Russo was just named ACC Offensive Player of the Week.

The last time these two teams met at Alumni Stadium in 2016, Notre Dame picked up its first ever win at home against UNC.

The chance for the Irish to end the Tar Heels winning streak is set to kick off at 7 p.m. this Thursday, Oct. 4 at Alumni Stadium.

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