Thursday night, Notre Dame soccer moved to 10-2 on the season with a 3-0 win over North Carolina State.
The Irish started off hot, generating a couple of nice early looks at goal before drawing a penalty in the 25th minute. Without senior midfielder and regular penalty taker Maddie Mercado on the field, the duties fell to senior forward Kiki Van Zanten, who made no mistakes sending Wolfpack keeper Maria Echezarreta the wrong way to give Notre Dame the lead.
After resting up at halftime, a refreshed Irish press took control of the game in the second half, limiting NC State to just two shots. It was sophomore midfielder Korbin Albert who provided the insurance, firing home a pair of goals to give Notre Dame a comfortable 3-0 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
The first was one of her best this season, curling the ball into the back of the net from just outside the box. The finish was made more impressive by the fact the sophomore was falling down, celebrating from the ground after the ball hit the back of the net.
The next came on the back of a setup by graduate student forward Olivia Wingate, who picked up the ball at the halfway line and drove forward, eventually splitting the defense with a pass to Albert.
Albert opted not to shoot the ball on sight, deftly dribbling her way around three Wolfpack defenders to find space and fire home.
After the game Albert noted her transition from midfield to forward helped change her role in the Irish formation, putting her in position to net her first brace of the year.
“Overall when I moved up to the nine, I just knew I had to get the ball, turn and take my space. So either I collapsed the backline so I could play it wide or take the shot by myself.”
Moving forward, the road doesn’t get easier for the Irish. On Sunday, Notre Dame will welcome No. 3 Florida State to South Bend, with the Seminoles representing another crucial hurdle on the path to an ACC title.
Albert, however, focused on the play of the Irish heading into the match, not Florida State.
“I think we’re just going to go out there and play our best,” said Albert. “I think our team, we look at the next game like any other game. We don’t care about what the name is, or who it is. We just want to go out there and play our best.”
Head coach Nate Norman remarked after the game that Notre Dame’s win just weeks ago against No. 2 Virginia could give the team a helpful sense of confidence and composure heading into Sunday’s battle with the Seminoles.
“Hopefully that win gives us a bit of confidence and belief to go into that game, because that’s really just something you need to have when you play against the defending national champions,” Norman said. “They’re just a really good team. But I think for us we showed just so much energy from a defensive standpoint, being able to get the ball moving. We put a lot of pressure on Virginia and that’s something we’ll really try to take into [Sunday].”
With Florida State coming off an impressive 1-0 result against Virginia themselves, they’ll enter Alumni Stadium in impressive form. The defending national champions are still yet to lose this year and now boast statement wins over Virginia as well as an impressive Clemson squad that beat Notre Dame 2-0 in their ACC opener.
The Irish will take on the Seminoles at 12 p.m. on Sunday at Alumni Stadium. The match will be broadcasted on the ACC Network.