Aug. 19, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Senior All-America forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) collected a goal and an assist, and sophomore forward Adriana Leon (Maple, Ontario/The Country Day School), the hero of the 2010 NCAA Women’s College Cup, netted her first score of the year as No. 1 Notre Dame defeated Wisconsin, 2-0, on Friday night in the season opener for both teams before a spirited crowd of 1,713 fans at Alumni Stadium.
Henderson, who registered seven shots including six on goal, set up Leon’s tally with 2:43 left in the first half. The veteran striker then offered a key brace for the Fighting Irish in the 61st minute, converting a sublime bending cross from senior midfielder Molly Campbell (Mission Hills, Kan./St. Teresa’s Academy) with a point-blank header into the right side-netting.
Notre Dame (1-0) more than doubled up Wisconsin in the shot department by a 17-8 margin, with the Fighting Irish putting 12 shots on goal (and another two hitting the woodwork), while the Badgers had just three shots on goal (plus another that rang the crossbar). Notre Dame also held a dominating 9-1 edge in corner kicks, while the fouls were nearly even (8-6 against the Fighting Irish).
Junior goalkeeper Maddie Fox (San Jose, Calif./Leigh) earned her first collegiate start on Friday night and made the most of it, registering the first solo shutout of her career with three saves. Wisconsin netminder Michelle Dalton was on her game and did well to keep her team competitive, going the distance and coming up with 10 saves.
“This was about the kind of match you’d expect for a season opener,” Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. “I was pleased with the way we possessed the ball and created some real threatening chances in the box, but we have to do a better job of capitalizing on those opportunities. They also got a couple of looks in the second half that I could have done without, but all in all, it was a good start and and a solid win against a Top 25-caliber team that’s going to be a contender in the Big Ten.”
The Fighting Irish spent the majority of the first half in Wisconsin’s end of the pitch, outshooting the Badgers, 8-2 in the opening 45 minutes. Henderson had the first good scoring chance of the night in the eighth minute, running on to a perfectly-weighted chip by senior midfielder Courtney Barg (Plano, Texas/Plano West), but her left-footed shot from 12 yards out didn’t quite sneak under a diving Dalton, who was able to get just enough of the ball to push it off the right post and then cover the rebound before Notre Dame support could arrive.
Five minutes later, sophomore midfielder Elizabeth Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) was knocking on the door, weaving through traffic at the top of the box and then finding space near the penalty spot. However, Dalton was again equal to the task, with another dive to deflect Tucker’s left-footed try off the outside of the right post.
Wisconsin’s best scoring threat of the first half came against the run of the play in the 31st minute. Badger midfielder Leigh Williams picked up a loose ball 30 yards out and from straight away, she let fly with a looping shot that caromed off the bar as Fox was leaping to grab the ball. The Fighting Irish netminder seemed to learn her lesson 10 minutes later, as a similar-looking shot from UW’s Laurie Nosbusch was tracked well by a backpedaling Fox, who was able to tip the ball off the top of the bar with a well-timed jump.
Meanwhile, Notre Dame had another golden opportunity in the 35th minute, as freshman defender Taylor Schneider (Southlake, Texas/Carroll Senior) sent a service from the right side into the penalty area that Henderson settled but couldn’t muscle past Dalton, who alertly charged off her line to smother the loose ball.
The Fighting Irish finally cracked the sturdy Wisconsin defense with a brilliant multi-layered sequence in the 43rd minute. Henderson picked up the ball just inside the offensive circle and slid a pass out to sophomore defender Kecia Morway (Lake Villa, Ill./Lakes Community) steaming down the left flank. In turn, Morway pushed into the channel and squared off a pass to Leon near the top of the box, but in the blink of an eye, Leon backheeled a pass to Henderson on a run into the area. Henderson was greeted by a pair of Badgers, but managed to jam the ball free and Leon pounced on the loose ball with a wicked 15-yard one-timer that beat Dalton low inside the left post.
Wisconsin (0-1) looked none the worse for wear coming out of the locker room, as Nosbusch tested Fox with a shot from the top of the area, but the Fighting Irish netminder hardly had to move to snare the drive 90 seconds into the period.
In the 54th minute, Henderson and Dalton once again stepped to center stage, with the Notre Dame forward latching on to a flick header from her linemate, freshman Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita), inside the box. However, Dalton met Henderson’s well-struck one-timer from close range with an equally-strong reflex save, parrying the shot over the crossbar.
Just past the hour mark, Notre Dame got the insurance policy it was seeking, courtesy of some superb teamwork and a clinical finish from its Hermann Trophy candidate. Sophomore midfielder Mandy Laddish (Lee’s Summit, Mo./Lee’s Summit) collected a loose ball 40 yards out in the attacking third and quickly sent a pass out on the right flank to Campbell. The versatile veteran took a couple of touches down the channel and then curled a cross into the goalmouth, with Henderson taking a perfectly-angled run and slashing in front of her mark to snap a header past a helpless Dalton.
Although the margin was settled, the two sides did take turns playing pinball with the woodwork in the final 15 minutes. With 12 minutes left, senior defender Jessica Schuveiller (Plano, Texas/Plano West) made a foray into the offensive zone and cracked a 35-yard thunderbolt that beat Dalton, but couldn’t defeat the bar. Two minutes later, Wisconsin got one final scoring chance, as Williams’ right-side cross connected with Julia Roddar, but her looping header was no match for Fox who stepped back to pop the ball gently off the bar and back into her waiting arms.
Notre Dame returns to action at 7 p.m. (ET) Friday when it visits third-ranked North Carolina on the opening night of the Carolina Classic at Fetzer Field in Chapel Hill, N.C. The Fighting also will face No. rv/12 Duke at 1 p.m. (ET) on Aug. 28 at Fetzer Field on day two of the UNC tournament.
For more information on the Notre Dame women’s soccer program, join the Fighting Irish women’s soccer news Twitter page (@NDsoccernews) or sign up for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the sidebar on the women’s soccer page at UND.com.
— ND —
POST MATCH NOTES: Notre Dame improves to 21-2-1 (.896) all-time in season openers, including a 14-1-1 (.906) record at home … the Fighting Irish also are 11-1-1 (.885) on opening night in the 13-year Randy Waldrum era, outscoring those 13 opponents by a combined 62-8 margin … Notre Dame is unbeaten in its last 12 season openers, and has posted shutouts on its last six, extending its active scoreless streak on opening night to 632:54, dating back to Aug. 26, 2005 (when New Hampshire’s Ashlee Ceislak scored 17:06 into an 11-1 Fighting Irish win at the Vermont Banknorth Classic in Burlington, Vt.) … Notre Dame moves to 13-1-1 (.900) in the all-time series with Wisconsin, including a 9-0-1 (.950) mark at home … the Fighting Irish also post their 11th consecutive win against a Big Ten Conference opponent, rising to 68-9-3 (.869) all-time against the current Big Ten alignment with a 44-6-2 (.865) record at home and a 6-0-1 (.929) ledger in season openers (4-0-1 in the past five years) … Henderson has scored goals in all four season openers in her career, previously netting tallies against Michigan (2008), Wisconsin (2009) and Minnesota (2010) … Notre Dame is 36-0-2 (.974) all-time when Henderson scores a goal, and 45-0-2 (.979) all-time when she registers a point … Henderson now has 125 career points (53G-19A), putting her one shy of Alison Lester (1990-93) for 13th place on the Fighting Irish career points list … Notre Dame is 328-0-1 all-time when claiming a 2-0 lead, winning each of the last 305 such matches … prior to the match, the Fighting Irish officially unveiled their 2010 NCAA national championship banner, a white, blue and gold flag that now hangs beside the program’s 1995 and 2004 pennants beneath the scoreboard at the north end of Alumni Stadium.