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Irish fight back to earn late draw with Razorbacks

| Monday, August 28, 2023

Sofia CrimiVaroli | The Observer
Irish freshman forward Meg Mrowicki heads the ball in matchup against Butler. Notre Dame prevailed 4-1 in this home matchup on Thursday, Aug. 24.

Notre Dame women’s soccer battled to their second draw of the season Sunday afternoon, drawing Arkansas 2-2.

A back and forth affair saw each team score once in each half. It was senior defender Eva Gaetino who opened up the scoring, tapping home her third goal of the season amid a scramble of bodies in the box.

The Razorbacks were quick to hit back, however. A mere five minutes after Gaetino’s tally Arkansas leveled the score, thanks to Sophia Aragon. Both sides had their chances before the halftime whistle, but ultimately, the teams entered the break tied.

In the second half however, calamity struck for the Irish. A simple pass between senior goalkeeper Ashley Naylor and freshman defender Clare Logan turned into a dangerous turnover in the jaws of Arkansas’ press and Morgan White poked home a finish at the near post. 

Now trailing for the first time, the Irish spent much of the remaining 40 minutes in search of a response. Notre Dame kept knocking at the Razorback goalmouth, but largely to no avail. Eventually though, they managed to break down a stout Arkansas backline. 

Graduate student midfielder Kiki Van Zanten beat multiple defenders in the air for a header, pushing it across the box into the path of Ellie Ospeck. The senior forward made no mistake from point blank range, finding the back of the net for the first time in the new season.

Both team pushed for a winner in the final five minutes of the contest, but some late forays in transition proved fruitless for both teams. 

Notre Dame will now enjoy a rare midweek off, an especially large luxury given the physical nature of the Arkansas match. The two teams combined for a total of 26 fouls over 90 minutes, with plenty of hard challenges filling in the gaps between foul stoppages.

They’ll emerge from the midweek break with a major test against Big Ten foe Michigan State. Hitting the road for the first time in the new season, they’ll face a Spartan squad that enjoyed a breakout 2022 campaign — winning the Big Ten regular season title.  

Michigan State has opened the season with a 3-1 record and a win over the Spartans could go a long way in boosting Notre Dame’s RPI, a crucial factor in eventual NCAA tournament seeding. A win would also set the Irish up nicely for another Big Ten test, at home against Michigan, four days later.

Notre Dame women’s soccer will be back in action on the road for the first time in 2023 this Sunday. They’ll kick off from East Lansing, Michigan at 1 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

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About J.J. Post

J.J. Post is a senior in Fisher Hall. Hailing from Mountainside, New Jersey, he's currently working his way towards being the nation's foremost expert on college soccer. Whether via the button below or his overly active Twitter (@JayJayPost), feel free to reach out and talk about Notre Dame soccer, football, basketball, volleyball, baseball or softball. Or any other Notre Dame sport you can think of. Odds are he watches it as well.

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