Aug. 9, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Senior tri-captain/All-America forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) wasted little time in establishing herself as one of the leading candidates for the 2011 Hermann Trophy, scoring four goals in a little more than an hour’s worth of action to lead top-ranked Notre Dame past Nebraska, 5-0 in the exhibition opener for both schools on Tuesday afternoon at the Eck Practice Field on the Notre Dame campus.
Senior defender/midfielder Molly Campbell (Mission Hills, Kan./St. Teresa’s Academy) added a goal, while three other players — sophomore midfielder/defender Rebecca Twining (Houston, Texas/Second Baptist School), sophomore defender Kecia Morway (Lake Villa, Ill./Lakes Community) and senior defender/midfielder Brynn Gerstle (Louisville, Ky./Assumption) — picked up assists for the Fighting Irish, who improve to 9-3-2 in preseason matches against college opponents during the 13-year tenure of head coach Randy Waldrum.
Notre Dame held an 18-11 shot advantage in the match, including a 14-2 margin in shots on goal (none of the Huskers’ shots came from inside the penalty area). The Fighting Irish also had a 5-2 edge in corner kicks, while Nebraska was whistled for 11 of the 15 fouls during the day. In addition, Notre Dame was flagged offside seven times (six in the first half), compared to once for the Huskers.
Junior goalkeeper Maddie Fox (San Jose, Calif./Leigh) went the first 67:30 in the Fighting Irish nets and was not called upon to make a save. Freshman Jennifer Jasper (Fort Worth, Texas/Trinity Valley School) came on to relieve Fox and complete the shutout, turning aside two shots in the final 22-plus minutes.
“This was a good effort for our first time out this season, especially after having had only a few days of training under our belts,” Waldrum said. “I thought we got some solid minutes out of a lot of different players, particularly our freshmen, who showed some good poise and maturity for their first match at the college level. Of course, you can’t say enough about Melissa (Henderson) and the way she played … she was just fantastic, and were it not for a couple of timing issues in getting her the ball, she could have had five or six goals. Now, we’ll go back and look at the tape and see some areas that we need to work on to get better, but that’s to be expected at this early stage of the season. That’s what the preseason is all about.”
It didn’t take long for Waldrum’s charges to move in front — all of 80 seconds, to be precise. Morway sprang Henderson with a well-weighted ball down the left channel, with the veteran striker cutting back inside her mark near the top left corner of the penalty box and then beating Nebraska goalkeeper Emma Stevens with a deft chip into the far right side of the net (1:20).
Notre Dame kept up the pressure on the Huskers throughout the first half, outshooting the visitors, 10-3 in the opening 45 minutes, including six on frame. One of those would double the Fighting Irish lead at 39:57, as Twining scooped up a loose ball near top of the center circle and used a neat flick with the outside of her right boot to find Henderson streaking down the right side. Henderson got back into the area before pivoting around her defender and snapping a low left-footed shot underneath Stevens, who was caught guessing the wrong way.
A two-goal lead is considered the most dangerous margin in soccer, but it only turned out to be trouble for Nebraska. Less than three minutes into the second half, Henderson battled a Husker defender for the ball in the box, then flicked a pass over her shoulder to wriggle free, and all the defender could do was pull Henderson down for a penalty kick. She then calmly slotted home her try from the spot and Notre Dame led 3-0 at the 47:30 mark.
Nebraska found more offensive rhythm in the second half, but the Fighting Irish defense was equal to the task, holding the Huskers to just two shots on goal, both of which were from distance and easily collected by Jasper. Meanwhile, Henderson closed the book on her afternoon in the 67th minute, as sophomore midfielder Mandy Laddish (Lee’s Summit, Mo./Lee’s Summit) started the sequence by smartly chipping the on-rushing Nebraska back line. Henderson found herself in the clear on the right side of the box and cracked a low drive that Stevens did well to stop. Yet, the rebound came right back to Henderson and she made no mistake this time, volleying a drive into the empty net to complete her “Texas hat trick” (because they say everything’s bigger in Texas) at the 66:30 mark.
The match would be stopped in the 71st minute, as lightning was spotted in a passing thunderstorm to the north of the Notre Dame campus. Following a delay of approximately 35 minutes, the teams returned to the pitch, with Nebraska coming out full of renewed energy, taking five shots in the first seven minutes after the unplanned break. However, just one of them was on frame, as Jordan Jackson’s 20-yard shot was easily swallowed up by Jasper.
Campbell finished off the Notre Dame scoring barrage just past the 80-minute mark, courtesy of a solid combination play by Morway and Gerstle in the center of the pitch. Morway eventually found Campbell on the right flank and the versatile veteran raced more than 40 yards down the channel to the byline. Just before she ran out of real estate, Campbell fired a low blast to the near post that eluded Stevens and snuck into the net (80:06).
The Fighting Irish will return to action at 1 p.m. (ET) Friday, when they travel to Maple City, Mich., to take on No. 10 Virginia in another exhibition match, which will be played at Myles Kimmerly Park. Admission is free.
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: Had it been a regular-season match, Henderson’s four goals would have tied the school record held by six players, including Henderson herself (vs. Central Michigan on Nov. 15, 2009, at Alumni Stadium) … the four goals were the most scored by any Notre Dame player in a preseason match during the Waldrum era (1999-present) … the last time a Fighting Irish player scored a hat trick in an exhibition was Aug. 26, 1998, when Anne Makinen (who went on to win the Hermann Trophy in 2000) and Jenny Streiffer both netted three goals in a 9-0 victory over Ohio State at the program’s former home facility, Alumni Field … Henderson has 15 points (6G-3A) in preseason matches during her career … Notre Dame’s 5-0 margin was the largest for the Fighting Irish in exhibition play since a similar 5-0 victory over Xavier on Aug. 17, 2006, at old Alumni Field … Tuesday’s match initially was scheduled to be played at Alumni Stadium, but due to overnight rain, the contest was moved to Notre Dame’s practice facility, located south of old Alumni Field … it was the first home exhibition match for the Fighting Irish since Aug. 12, 2008, when Notre Dame downed Memphis, 3-1 at Alumni Field … during Tuesday’s contest, the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) released its preseason poll, with the Fighting Irish earning the No. 1 preseason ranking for the second time in school history, having also opened in the top spot in 2005 (the year after they won their second NCAA national championship) … in addition, the BIG EAST Conference unveiled its preseason coaches’ poll and all-conference team, with Notre Dame being a unanimous choice to win the league’s National Division title … individually, Henderson was unanimously selected as the BIG EAST Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, the first time any conference player was a unanimous preseason pick for that honor since another Notre Dame forward (and two-time Hermann Trophy recipient), Kerri Hanks, did so in 2007 … what’s more, senior tri-captain/defender Jessica Schuveiller (Plano, Texas/Plano West) was tapped as the BIG EAST Preseason Co-Defensive Player of the Year, sharing that honor with Marquette’s Kerry McBride.
MATCH BOX SCORE (unofficial)
Aug. 9, 2011 — Noon ET
Eck Practice Field (Notre Dame, Ind.)
Weather: Low 80s, mostly cloudy, peeks of sun (35-min lightning delay at 71:00 mark of second half)
Nebraska 0 – 0 — 0
Notre Dame 2 – 3 — 5
ND 1. Melissa Henderson 1 (unassisted) 1:20. ND 2. Henderson 2 (Rebecca Twining) 39:57. ND 3. Henderson 3 (penalty kick) 47:30. ND 4. Henderson 4 (unassisted) 66:30. ND 5. Molly Campbell 1 (Kecia Morway, Brynn Gerstle) 80:06.
Total Shots: Nebraska 11 (3-8), Notre Dame 18 (10-8)
Shots On Goal: Nebraska 2 (0-2), Notre Dame 14 (7-7)
Saves: Nebraska 9 (Emma Stevens 9 in 90:00), Notre Dame 2 (Maddie Fox 0 in 67:30, Jennifer Jasper 2 in 22:30)
Corner Kicks: Nebraska 2 (1-1), Notre Dame 5 (2-3)
Fouls: Nebraska 11 (6-5), Notre Dame 4 (4-0)
Offsides: Nebraska 1 (1-0), Notre Dame 7 (6-1)
Match Officials: Khalaf Al-Latayfeh (R), Pawel Wydra (AR1), Alex Mayrothalasitis (AR2), Ken Mather (4th)