ND Women’s Soccer
Irish advance in postseason play with second 1-0 win over Saint Louis
Observer Sports Staff | Tuesday, November 19, 2019
For the Notre Dame women’s soccer team, the 2019 postseason began just as the regular season began with a 1-0 win over Saint Louis. With the win, the Irish (11-7-2, 4-4-2 ACC) advance to take on No. 2 seed South Carolina Gamecocks on Friday in Columbia, South Carolina.
In the season opener against the Billikens (17-4-2, 9-0-1 Atlantic 10), it was a defensive struggle for the majority of the game, until freshman forward Kiki Van Zanten managed to beat the last Saint Louis defender and had a one-on-one with the keeper. As Van Zanten dribbled around, however, the goalie grabbed her legs in an effort to prevent the free score despite being assessed a red card and a subsequent disqualification.
Thanks to Van Zanten’s effort, junior midfielder Sammi Fisher was able to bury the resulting penalty kick in the 76th minute to give the Irish a 1-0 win to begin their season. Sunday evening, Fisher got the chance to pay Van Zanten back in a way.
As the NCAA first round match began, the Billikens came out the aggressors, recording several chances on the net early. However, sophomore goalkeeper Mattie Interian, who missed the last two months of action due to an injury, stepped up big in her first start back and made some clutch saves, including one on a point-blank opportunity for Saint Louis off a corner kick.
As the first half wore on, Notre Dame would break through in the 41st minute when Fisher returned the favor to Van Zanten for the season-opening game-winner. Fisher sent a corner in that grazed the cross bar and fell into a mosh pit, but Van Zanten found the ball and put it in the back of the net to give Fisher the assist and put the Irish on top 1-0.
For the remainder of the game the Irish would control possession and limit the Billikens to fewer chances than in the first stanza. While Saint Louis would record five shots in both halves, none were on target in the second compared to three that required saves in the first. In addition, the Irish cleaned up their play in the second half and recorded only two fouls after racking up eight in the first period. Sensing the pressure, the Billikens committed six fouls in the first half and eight more in the second.
Despite a couple of opportunities to make the lead insurmountable, the Irish couldn’t capitalize on any more chances. Their defense was enough, though, as they ran out the clock and got the 1-0 win to advance to the second round. The lone goal marked Van Zanten’s fourth of the year and her second game-winner, having recorded the only score in a 1-0 win over Michigan. The win also improved the Irish to 49-3-1 all-time in home NCAA championship games.
Notre Dame will take on South Carolina (17-1-3, 7-0-3 SEC) at 6 p.m. Friday in Columbia.