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Notre Dame women’s soccer drops first match of the season against Clemson

Notre Dame women’s soccer dropped their first contest of the season, falling on the road to Clemson 2-0 on Thursday.

Proving conference play is always a different beast, the Tigers threw down the gauntlet for Notre Dame early. Just twenty minutes into the match, Sami Meredith got into transition and slotted home the opening goal to draw first blood for Clemson. Meredith’s opener marked the first time all season Notre Dame conceded first in a match.

And though a tightened Irish defense would hold the Tigers without a shot on goal for the remainder of the first half, Clemson would strike again before game’s end. Emily Brough found the back of the net after a ball was played across the box to put Notre Dame away for good.

The Irish did generate a few big chances over the final 30 minutes in a spirited attempt at a comeback, but ultimately the finishing touch just wasn’t there on the road. Most notably, sophomore midfielder Korbin Albert cracked an impressive effort off the crossbar from a distance and graduate student forward Olivia Wingate nearly connected on the ricochet. Wingate would get another chance at goal in the minute 68, driving nearly the length of the pitch with the ball before coming up short on the final conversion. 

The loss drops the Irish to 7-1-0 on the season, but the chance for an immediate rebound looms this Thursday.

The Virginia Cavaliers travel to South Bend on Thursday night, giving Notre Dame a chance to knock off one of the ACC’s top dogs and make a statement heading down the stretch of conference play.

The Cavaliers dispatched No. 2 North Carolina 3-2 in a thriller Saturday night, meaning they’ll presumably arrive at Alumni Stadium on Thursday as a top-five team in national rankings, and definitively the top team in the ACC.

Junior Lia Godfrey has helped lead the way thus far for Virginia, notching four goals as well as three assists from midfield. It was goals from Godfrey, as well as Rebecca Jarrett and Alexa Spaanstra, that helped the Cavaliers charge back from a 2-0 halftime deficit to beat the Tar Heels on Saturday.

The match also stands as a chance for Irish head coach Nate Norman to make a major statement on his resume at Notre Dame. Since his appointment, Norman is 0-13-1 against the ACC’s consistent top tier of UNC, Virginia, Duke and Florida State and 0-19-1 against opponents ranked No. 10 or higher in the coaches’ poll. 

But there are plenty of signs that this could be the year Norman and the Irish break through. Last season, Notre Dame came painstakingly close several times to getting that first win against the ACC’s elite. They dropped three consecutive games against Virginia, Duke and North Carolina, two of which came in overtime and all of which were played on the road. 

A win on Thursday would boost Notre Dame to a top-five ranking and assert the Irish early as an ACC title contender. With a home crowd (Notre Dame is 15-1-1 at Alumni Stadium over the last two years) backing up an impressive squad that has enjoyed their best start to a season in years, Thursday is set to be a marquee matchup for the Irish and their head coach. 

The Irish return home on Thursday Sept. 22 to play Virginia at 7 p.m. EST. The game will be streamed on ACCNX.

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

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Baffour finds back of net with seconds remaining to secure Irish 2-1 victory

After nearly missing out on a tie opportunity in the final minute of a 1-0 loss against Syracuse last weekend, the Notre Dame men’s soccer team bounced back against the University of Virginia in a 2-1 victory Friday night. This win was mostly by virtue of a final second goal off the foot of first-year midfielder KK Baffour.

The Irish remained deadlocked in a scoring standstill with the 4-2 Cavalier team over the opening 45 minutes of play at Klöckner Stadium in Charlottesville, Virginia. Despite the mutual shutout throughout the first half, Virginia controlled 58 percent of possession and let fly seven shots on goal compared to just four from the Irish.

The Cavaliers maintained their stranglehold over possession just past the outset of the second half. In minute 68, the Irish produced the match’s first point on a corner kick which trickled into the goal after it was deflected off a Cavalier bystander.

It looked as if the Irish were going to escape with a one-nil victory before Cavalier striker Kome Ubogue poked home the equalizing goal off an in-swinging corner kick in the minute 89.

With less than 40 seconds remaining in the game, Virginia won yet another corner. But sophomore forward Matthew Roou was able to clear the loose ball to Kaffour, who bounded downfield and punched in the game winner with less than 10 seconds remaining on the clock.

Head coach Chad Riley was thrilled at his players’ performance coming off a tough loss to an undefeated Syracuse team.

“It’s an unbelievable message to the team,” Riley said. “You have to keep pushing to the very end and to their credit, [this team] does that.”

“Competing from the first to the last whistle [is] a quality we have,” Riley said. “That’s what we always talk about.”

Coach Riley was very complementarity of the toughness of the UVA soccer program and their fans.

“Virginia is one of the greats in the history of college soccer,” he said. “It was a great environment to test our group, and I felt they stood up to it really well.”

The Cavaliers were hot coming off two victories in which they had put up nine total goals to their opponent’s two.

“Virginia is a very good team. We knew that coming in and playing at home. They are one of the best attacking set piece teams that we’ve played against, and they’ve got really good delivery and a lot of guys that are quite big,” Riley said.

“I was really proud of the way that the group handled [UVA] for the most part. Obviously they got one on us, but the group did a great job making sure that that was the only one,” he said.

The Irish went into the match “just thinking about playing against a good team away from home and seeing if you can get a win,” Riley said. It’s a bonus that UVA will a have a “very high RPI at the end of the year.”

Such hard-fought victories will pay out when it comes time for ACC tournament and College Cup seeding.

The Irish will no doubt be riding high as they come upon a slew of home games against Chicago State, UNC and Boston College.

“It’s all about kind of just growing from game to game,” Riley said.

The Irish’s matchup against Chicago State is a 7 p.m. EST kickoff at Alumni Stadium on Wednesday, Sept. 22.

Contact Peter Breen at pbreen2@nd.edu.

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Olivia Wingate prepared to lead undefeated Irish into conference play

Graduate student forward Olivia Wingate has been a huge part of the undefeated women’s soccer team this season, as she is leading the team with six goals.

Wingate reflected on her first season at Notre Dame when she had to adjust to playing soccer at the college level.

“When I came in, I was injured at first. I wasn’t really playing as well as I wanted to,” Wingate said. “I had to deal with coming from club teams and high school teams where I played really well, and I was a star player. Coming into a new environment and having to work your way up in the ranks and prove yourself everyday was something new.”

Wingate learned a lot of valuable lessons from her early seasons with the Irish.

“I grew in my attitude and mentality at tackling that everyday pressure and challenge to prove myself,” Wingate said.

Wingate feels that she has grown off the field as well during her time at Notre Dame.

“Off the field, I have grown a lot in pushing myself outside of my comfort zone. With academics, it is a really hard and rigorous curriculum and adding being a student-athlete is really hard,” Wingate said. “I really grew in time management and my leadership abilities and being able to handle my academics as well as athletic pressures.”

Wingate shared that one of her favorite players growing up was Mia Hamm because of her prominence in the women’s game, and the position that she played.

“When I was little, I really loved Mia Hamm,” Wingate said. “I am a number nine so I took all that in when I was younger.”

Wingate has idolized Christen Press in the present day.

“I really enjoy Christen Press and her style of play. Obviously she’s still playing, and it’s fun to see her continue to do super well, so I love watching her as well,” Wingate said.

There have been plenty of influential players during her time at Notre Dame, but Wingate shared that 2019 graduate Sabrina Flores was especially influential to her.

“[Sabrina] is the sweetest person you will ever meet and truly dedicated to working harder than anyone else in the room wherever she is. She is super competitive, but she is also super level-headed. You never saw her get angry or mad at people; she was able to hold herself to a very high standard,” Wingate said.

Wingate also praised head coach Nate Norman for his role in helping her develop as a soccer player and person.

“Nate has also been a huge role model for me as well, and he is obviously a great mentor and friend,” Wingate said. “Over our years here, our relationship has gotten a lot stronger, and I am able to go to him with any questions I have. I know that he is going to give me honest feedback and pointers and any help that I can get.”

Wingate praised the rest of the coaching staff as well.

“They are super inspirational and motivational, and I couldn’t ask for a better set of coaches to lead the team,” Wingate said.

Wingate is in the midst of a breakout season, having scored a team-leading six goals for the Irish in just seven games. Wingate attributes her success to her ability to move off the ball.

“This year I have been able to work on my movement off of the ball a little bit more. I think it is better than it was last year,” Wingate said. “I am working a lot on being patient and staying within the middle of the goal inside the 18-yard box most of the time, so I am not trying to drift too wide. That gives me a better chance of getting looks that are more directly in line with the goal.”

The twelfth-ranked Irish are off to a red-hot start with conference play starting this week against Clemson, and Wingate hopes the Irish can build off of their early season success.

“It’s always great when a team is winning. It’s always a great confidence booster,” Wingate said. “Going into ACC play, we have to recognize that we are one of the best teams.”

The Irish have been very successful on both sides of the ball this season, and Wingate knows the Irish need to keep playing well going forward.

“We just have to keep doing what we are doing,” Wingate said. “We are scoring a lot of goals. We are great defensively; we have only let up three goals in seven games. We move the ball super fast, our tempo is great, and I think a lot of teams haven’t been able to keep up with us.”

Wingate and the rest of the Irish travel to South Carolina on Sept. 15 to play the Clemson Tigers. The game will be available on the ACC network at 8 p.m. EST.

Contact Nate at nmoller2@nd.edu.

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Men’s soccer looks to bounce back

After a bumpy start to their season opener at home, the Notre Dame men’s soccer team is on the road to East Lansing to take on the 1-0 Michigan State Spartans. 

Last week, Michigan State beat Army 2-1 in a game that statistically was very similar to the Irish’s loss against Seattle. Like Notre Dame, Army led Michigan State in shots on goal and corners. Despite these advantages, Army was unable to come up with the win. However, Army’s experiences should set Notre Dame expectations for what the Irish will face in East Lansing. 

Both of Michigan State’s goals last week were the result of aggressive box play — a deflection and a well-placed corner kick. The Irish must focus on winning the midfield 50/50 battles and clearing the ball out of box (even if a Spartan outside the box eventually takes possession), because their past performance shows that they capitalize on sloppy and hectic box play. 

On the offensive side, Notre Dame needs to pressure Michigan State’s back line. Army’s lone goal came from a one-on-one with their goalie. 

The Irish must also watch out for redshirt senior Will Perkins and freshman Jake Spadafora, who both scored for Michigan State, as well as graduate student Jack Beck and junior Greyson Mercer. Perkins, Beck and Mercer were all on this year’s Big Ten Players to Watch list. Michigan State is expected to finish fifth in the Big Ten this year behind Indiana (who Notre Dame will face Sept. 3 in Bloomington), Penn State, Michigan and Maryland. 

Notre Dame is facing its own conference race as this upcoming game will be important to stay close to other ACC teams in the rankings. Clemson, Pitt and Duke all won in their first games. 

Despite Thursday’s loss, Notre Dame has a lot to feel good about going into this game. The underclassmen stepped up at key moments and will likely continue to be featured in the lineups. Freshman Wyatt Borso started for the Irish with other freshmen Mitch Ferguson, KK Baffour and Sebastian Green all seeing the field, as well. 


Head coach Chad Riley was very impressed with the performance of his young players against Seattle and spoke positively about their upcoming games. 

“All the first-year guys did a great job coming out,” Riley said. “I think it’s going to be a class that features a lot over their four years. Some of the [personnel decisions] were positional and some of the guys just came in and adapted a little bit quicker, but overall, they’ve had a great start.” 

The leadership roles of these underclassmen will be important as Notre Dame looks to prove their exceptional season last year was no accident. In recent years, Notre Dame has struggled against Michigan State. Last year, Notre Dame led at halftime at home 3-0, before Michigan State scored four goals and shut out the Irish in the second half. Despite the last meeting’s unfortunate turn of events, Notre Dame still leads all time 18-9-6. 

But at the end of the day — as Riley said after last week’s loss — Notre Dame has to play good teams to get better. This week, we will see how much they learned playing against Seattle and what they will do differently to try and secure the win on Monday night.

Annika Herko


Contact Annika at aherko@nd.edu