ND Women’s Soccer
Irish get two more shutouts on the road, move to 6-0
Liam Coolican | Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Notre Dame (6-0) secured a pair of 1-0 wins on the road this weekend, continuing their undefeated streak. This is the team’s first six-game winning streak since 2015, when the Irish also won six-consecutive games to start the season.
Although the Irish have struggled slightly away from home this season, head coach Norman wants his team to prepare the same way.
“They may not have all the comfort and familiarity of being at home, but we’re still going to go out there, play our game, control the tempo, try to put pressure on teams,” Norman said.
On Friday, the Irish defeated Michigan (4-2) in Ann Arbor. Defense dominated the game early, as both goalkeepers denied a number of scoring opportunities. Michigan controlled possession frequently in the first half, and had a good chance to pull ahead in the 28th minute when junior midfielder Sarah Stratigakis nearly scored from seven yards out. Sophomore midfielder Raleigh Loughman fired the rebound toward the net, but Irish sophomore goalkeeper Mattie Interian was able to knock the ball out of play. Notre Dame had an opportunity just a few minutes later when sophomore midfielder Brooke VanDyck raced down the field, appearing to have just the goalie to beat. However, Wolverines defender Janiece Joyner sprinted back to stop her and regain possession for the Wolverines.
The game ended up being evenly matched, as each team controlled possession for exactly 50% of the match. The Irish held possession more often in the second half, but the Wolverines defense stood firm. Finally, with less than five minutes to play, junior defender Jenna Winebrenner sent a cross into the box that was headed past Michigan junior goalkeeper Hillary Beall by freshman forward Kiki Van Zanten for her first career goal.
The Irish continued to showcase their versatility on offense, as Van Zanten is the seventh Notre Dame player to score this season. Norman credits this to the depth of the team and its playing style.
“We have a really deep team with a lot of players on offense that have a great ability,” Norman said. “We’ve also gotten goals from players on our back line. We push a lot of people forward at different points in the game. It makes it difficult for other teams to cue in on a specific player to deal with.”
On Sunday, Notre Dame prevailed against the Oakland Golden Grizzlies (2-2-1) in Rochester, Michigan. The Irish handled Oakland from the opening touch and had plenty of opportunities early, but Jaimie Leas, the Grizzlies goalkeeper, made some tough saves to deny them. Then, in the 31st minute, junior forward Eva Hurm scored her team-high third goal of the season on a volley off a deflected cross to give the Irish the 1-0 lead.
Hurm’s goal was all the Irish would need, as Notre Dame smothered Oakland on defense for entirety of the game, not allowing the Grizzlies to take a single shot. Defense continues to be a common theme on this opening stretch of the season, as the Irish have allowed just one goal through their first six games. The win against Oakland was their third-consecutive shutout and their fifth of the season. Norman explained that players knowing their roles when the Irish don’t have the ball is key to shutting down opposing offenses.
“We are trying to be organized once a team gets into our defensive third, and clarifying everybody’s role.” he said. “We’ll try to press teams in their defensive half, and if they break that press, we have to figure out how to get back, and put them under pressure, and keep them in front of us, and be ready to get our opportunities.”
The Irish are preparing for a tough road game against seventh-ranked South Carolina. The game is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. Thursday.