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ND Women’s Soccer

Notre Dame drops final game of homestand to Virginia

| Monday, October 8, 2018

The Notre Dame Women’s Soccer Team dropped the final matchup of its four-game homestand 3-0 on Sunday as they struggled to build momentum against No. 8 Virginia. The Irish are now 0-2 in the month of October.

Notre Dame (6-8, 2-4 ACC) came out of the locker room strong with several solid defensive performances from senior defenders Sabrina Flores and Rachel Heard. The Irish looked aggressive on both the offensive and defensive ends of the field, competing with a solid Cavalier (11-2, 4-2 ACC) attack. Neither team was able to find their groove, however, and play was disjointed from both sides with sloppy touches and fluctuating possessions.

Annie Smiercia
Irish freshman midfielder Brooke VanDyck controls the ball during Notre Dame’s 4-0 loss to FLorida State.

Enter Sydney Zandi. The Virginia sophomore took matters into her own hands, firing a shot to give the Cavaliers a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute. The shot came after senior midfielder Montana Sutton slotted a free kick into the box. Zandi struck with force, and the ball hit the upper 90 of the net beyond the reach of Irish junior goalkeeper Brooke Littman.

The goal, Zandi’s second of the season, gave the Cavaliers some much needed momentum. On the other side of the ball, it deflated a Notre Dame team who came out looking solid.

The Irish tried to answer back a minute and a half later with a shot from junior forward Jennifer Westendorf, but the ball flew north of the crossbar and was the last shot Notre Dame recorded for the rest of the match.

For the remainder of the first half, Notre Dame played on its heels, held back by a relentless Virginia offense. Although the Irish were able to keep the Cavaliers scoreless until the end of the first period, they were unable to get any offensive rhythm of their own. Nearly every time the ball seemed to be in Notre Dame’s favor, play was stopped by a whistle; The Irish recorded a season-high 15 fouls against their opponent. The half closed with a powerful performance by the Virginia offense, who went to the locker room with 7 shots and 6 corners.

At the start of the second half, the Notre Dame offense looked to get things started. However, a misplayed ball resulted in a turnover, which Virginia was able to convert into an unlikely goal. Just 55 seconds into the second half, Sutton earned points again, firing a shot from the top of the box. The Notre Dame defense didn’t look concerned about the strike, but it flew lower than anticipated, bounced off the inside of the crossbar and rebounded in. The early goal left the Irish team dejected with their hopes of gaining second-half momentum dashed. Firing three shots in the first five minutes, Virginia solidified their position as the dominant team on the pitch.

For the remainder of the game, Virginia pounded down the field, with their third goal came in the 64th minute, off of a corner crossed into the middle. Alexa Spaanstra, who was waiting inside the six-yard box, drilled a ball low and right of Littman, putting an exclamation point on the Cavalier win.

At the conclusion of the game, Virginia had a total of 12 corner kicks and 16 shots to Notre Dame’s two corners and two shots. The Irish now look ahead to another conference matchup on Saturday at Syracuse, where they will try to get one game closer to a winning record.

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