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ND Women’s Soccer

Irish prevail against Wildcats

| Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Notre Dame continued its winning streak with a dominant win over Northwestern on Sunday, besting the Wildcats 4-0. This home victory came on the heels of a 1-0 win over Saint Louis on Thursday to open the regular season.

Head coach Nate Norman said these two games are reflective of the team’s mission to improve each and every day they take the pitch.

“We’ve been fortunate enough to win our first two games, but we have to stay focused and do that,” he said. “I’ve been happy with how we’re playing … we’ve been very solid defensively, haven’t given up a goal yet so all that has been very good so far.”

Against the Billikins (1-1), the Irish (2-0) were paced by junior midfielder Sammi Fisher, who attempted three goals, landing one to secure the Notre Dame win. However, when Sunday rolled around, it was all Eva Hurm and Luisa Delgado. The junior forward and sophomore midfielder helped lift the Irish from a slow first half to each score two goals in the span of just over 12 minutes.

While the game was relatively even throughout the first 45 minutes of play, Notre Dame brought the heat coming out of the halftime break, outshooting the Wildcats 5-3. However, the greatest difference came in fouls, where Northwestern committed 10 in the second half in comparison to Notre Dame’s three.

Northwestern had a quality look midway through the first half with the Wildcat’s getting several attempts on the goal line off a corner kick. However, 5-foot-10 sophomore goalkeeper Mattie Interian stood tall and made the save.

After struggling to find their shot in the first half, the dynamic duo of Hurm and Delgado got to work. Hurm started things off with an arching corner that avoided the reach of the Wildcat’s goalkeeper, sophomore Mackenzie Wood. Just over three minutes later, Delgado got in on the action, earning her first career goal with a low pass to the back of the net courtesy of an assist by sophomore defender Brianna Martinez. Hurm delivered the dagger with a low corner shot after Wood came off her line to put the Irish up 3-0. Delgado added one final goal in the 60th minute to seal the 4-0 victory.

With Hurm and Delgado leading the matchup, Norman emphasized the importance of reinforcing their confidence heading into their conference schedule.

“I think these first couple games we’ve seen a few different people really step up,” he said. “Eva Hurm has been very good, Sammi Fisher had a fantastic game against Saint Louis. We also had some great performances from some of our back line. … It’s really good to see those players have a good amount of success this early in the season, and I’m sure that’ll give them the confidence to really build on.”

While Norman said he was pleased with the offensive performance in the second half, he acknowledged his team can still learn a lot from Sunday’s matchup.

“There were some things that we could’ve done a little bit better in the first half that we addressed a little bit in the second half,” he said. “I think a lot of [it] was we came out with a lot more energy in the second half and really got the ball down and played. … We kept the ball more during possession and moved quickly. I think our challenge is can we do that a little better or earlier in the game? Can we not let it go until the second half? But there was a lot of good things that happened at the Northwestern game, and they’re a very good opponent. So to be able to have a good performance like that against a good opponent was exciting to see.”

He also acknowledged the offensive show his team put on in the second half is not a sustainable model to build their season on.

“I don’t think you can expect to score four goals in 13 minutes on a consistent basis, I mean I think that was really good,” he said. “I think we have a lot of really good, fun, dynamic attacking players that can really make plays, and I think when they’re feeling good about themselves, when they’re confident, when they’re playing in a way where they’re not worried about making mistakes and they’re playing in ways where they’re willing to take risks, you see things like that happen. I think for us it’s just continuing to try to encourage them and build their confidence because the players have such talent in their ability, and we have to get them to believe that they can play like that on a consistent basis.”

The Irish will take on Western Michigan on Thursday in Kalamazoo, Michigan, before hosting St. John’s on Sunday. The team will then travel to Michigan to take on the Wolverines and Oakland as it rounds out its first week of competition in September. Following those four matchups, the Irish will face what is expected to be their toughest opponent yet — No. 15 South Carolina — on the road. While the Gamecocks are anticipated to be a major challenge to Notre Dame, Norman said the schedule is considerably different from last year’s where they faced off against perennial powerhouses such as Stanford and Santa Clara.

“When we’re making schedules, I think a lot of what we’re trying to do is balance a few things,” Norman said. “I didn’t love that California trip, more because just the time it takes to go there. You know you’re leaving on a Wednesday, they’re missing school on Wednesday, Thursday … going all the way across the country and then we’re always going to have travel trips because we’re a little bit of an outlier [based] on geography in our conference so we’re going to have to make the trip to Miami or Boston College or North Carolina or Virginia, which can be quite the traveling.”

Norman also said one of the objectives when designing their non-conference schedule was to focus their search on programs closer to the region while still maintaining a high level of competition.

“They’re still really good competition, but I think part of the goal was just reflecting on last season, that California trip took a good amount out of us in terms of just the travel,” Norman said.

While their non-conference schedule might have been adjusted to ease travel complications, the Irish can still expect a tough road ahead of them with four top-10 opponents awaiting them in the ACC alone.

Kickoff for Thursday’s game is schedule for 5 p.m. in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

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