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Irish rally twice to tie Duke, finish third in ACC

Notre Dame women’s soccer tied Duke 2-2 Thursday night in an exciting showdown at Alumni Stadium.

It was the Blue Devils who struck first, with 2021 freshman All-American forward Michelle Cooper firing a stunning strike off the inside of the post. But the Irish would counter less than five minutes after halftime. Duke brought down Irish senior midfielder Maddie Mercado, giving the Irish a PK. Sophomore midfielder Korbin Albert stepped up to the penalty spot and converted for the second straight game to knot the score at 1-1.

Duke would once again work their way into the lead with twenty minutes remaining. Kat Rader found space in the box with some clever dribbling and slotting the ball home. But Notre Dame would once more respond quickly, again off the foot of Albert.

The sophomore attacking midfielder found space just outside the box. She ripped an excellent strike past Duke goalkeeper Ruthie Jones to even the tally. After the game Albert, who played the full 90 minutes in a variety of different roles for the Irish, said her moving around the field doesn’t change her game.

“It doesn’t affect my game at all,” Albert said. “I just make sure I know what my role is. I ask my coach before the game, and I’m just ready to go wherever I’m needed. Any position I play on the field I’m doing the same thing [tactically]. It’s really not that different whether I’m playing forward or defense.”

The draw ensures the Irish will now match up with the Pitt Panthers on Sunday. Notre Dame has not lost a match since Pitt beat them 3-1 on Sept. 25. However, head coach Nate Norman remarked that positives could still be taken away from the performance, even though a win would have clinched a share of the ACC title.

“I think we needed to have that adversity going into the postseason, where we had to come back in a game,” Norman said. “Typically you’re going to have one of those games in the postseason. So I loved the way we did that, and I loved the way we kept responding.”

Notre Dame ends the season with a 2-0-1 mark against their three hardest conference opponents. That is a stark contrast from prior years in which Notre Dame went 0-19-1 against top 10 teams. Norman mentioned after the game that the team has developed this both physically and mentally in their approach against top-tier opposition

“I think [before this season] we hadn’t been able to get over the hump against these top ten teams,” said Norman. “I think we feel a lot more comfortable, we can control large parts of the game and have great opportunities to win those games.”

The Irish will be back in action Sunday night when they take on Pittsburgh at Alumni Stadium in the first round of the ACC tournament. The game will be available on the ACC Network and starts at 6 p.m.

Contact J.J. Post at jpost2@nd.edu.

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