Nov. 23, 2014
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – After allowing an early goal to top seed Texas A&M, it was not a surprise that the University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team had an uphill battle to fight. The Fighting Irish responded over the match’s final 83 minutes, dominating the Aggies at both ends of the field. A comeback win was not to be, as Kelley Monogue scored her second goal of the day on a counter attack in the 82nd minute to lead No. 5 Texas A&M to a stunning 2-1 win over Notre Dame on Sunday at Ellis Field in the third round of the NCAA Championship.
No. 12/11 Notre Dame (14-6-2) fell to 66-19-1 (.773) all-time in NCAA Championship matches dating back to the 1993 season. The Fighting Irish were defeated for the second consecutive year in the NCAA’s third round in what was their 22nd consecutive appearance in the national tournament.
Notre Dame easily held the advantage in the final shot count 19-12, including a dominant 19-7 cushion after Texas A&M (21-2-2) took the lead in the seventh minute. The Fighting Irish also had an 8-5 corner kick edge, while shots on goal were even at 6-6.
“I thought we played well today, and I am really proud of the effort we displayed on the field,” Notre Dame head coach Theresa Romagnolo said. “In the beginning of every game everyone is trying to settle into their style, and I think they scored so early on that you couldn’t really tell. The first five minutes was going back and forth. I definitely felt that after they scored we got better, and we were able to come away with more possessions.
“I thought our midfield was just incredible today,” Romagnolo added. “It was the best I’ve ever seen them play. They won everything, first balls, second balls, they were able to dribble out of tight areas and keep the ball for us.”
Texas A&M struck early after pouring the pressure on from the outset. Monogue curled a corner kick from the right flag dangerously into the box, where the ball caromed into the net to give the Aggies a 1-0 lead at 6:38.
“I think (Kaela) misjudged it, and I haven’t seen the replay so it’s hard for me to say what it looked like,” Romagnolo said. “We misjudged it and unfortunately it went in the back of the net. The sun was a factor on both goals, the wind was a cross-wind today, so it affected both teams equally in both halves. (But) I don’t feel like it was a huge factor in either half.”
Notre Dame nearly broke through in the 49th minute after a dangerous corner from freshman defender Sabrina Flores (Livingston, New Jersey/Livingston) at the left flag came close to deflecting into the Texas A&M net, reminiscent of the Aggies goal in the first half. The Texas A&M back line cleared the ball off the line and out of harm’s way to stall the Fighting Irish bid.
Freshman forward Karin Muya (London, England/Burntwood School) looked to set up sophomore striker Kaleigh Olmsted (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands) for the tying goal in the 60th minute, slipping free down the right wing before crossing a great ball toward the right post. Olmsted’s left-footed flick on the doorstep traveled just wide of the iron.
“I actually felt like after they scored, we were the better team for the whole match,” Romagnolo said. “I thought that we really dominated after getting scored on, and had a lot of opportunities that we just didn’t tuck away. Credit to them, they did a great job defending their box, but I felt we created a lot of opportunities for ourselves.
“After that I felt like we just came alive and we dominated the midfield, won a lot of 50-50 balls, came away with possession and created a lot of opportunities in the final third,” she added. “The effort, for me, was fantastic after we allowed that goal.”
Notre Dame tied the contest in the 72nd minute when a shot from junior forward Anna Maria Gilbertson (Davis, California/Davis) deflected out of bounds for a Fighting Irish corner. Muya re-directed a perfect corner from Flores at the left flag past Aggie goalkeeper Jordan Day and into the back of the Texas A&M net at 71:10, squaring the match at 1-1. Muya’s goal was her second in as many contests, and her fifth point of the weekend at Ellis Field.
“Karin Muya is a really exciting player,” Romagnolo said. “She’s a bit of an unknown because she can do everything, she can go 1V1, she can get shots off, she buzzes. Today she did a lot, she created a lot offensively, and had great shots. She’s always dangerous around the goal, and she played well today.”
Against the run of play, Texas A&M’s Monogue gathered a loose ball in the Notre Dame end and fired a rocket right-footed blast from the top of the 18-yard box past a sprawling Kaela Little at 81:21. Despite being controlled throughout the second half, the home team Aggies went back in front for the final time at 2-1.
Notre Dame concluded Romagnolo’s first season at the helm of the program with only one true road loss, Sunday’s decision against Texas A&M. The Fighting Irish were also not shut out in a loss for the first time since the 2008 season (only clean sheet against all year was a 0-0 draw at No. 4 Stanford on Sept. 7).
Flores made a great run down the left wing into Texas A&M territory in the 14th minute, earning a corner kick for her effort after the ball deflected out of play. Flores’ ensuing corner attempt from the left flag was pulled out of the air by Aggie goalkeeper Day.
Muya provided immediate energy off the Notre Dame bench when she entered in the 20th minute, logging the first Notre Dame shot of the contest off a cross from the left side that drifted wide to the left.
The Fighting Irish earned their best look of the opening half in the 27th minute after a shot by Olmsted was blocked out of play. On the following corner, the ball settled onto Olmsted’s right foot more than 25 yards out, and her try sailed over the crossbar and out of play.
Little ripped a long free kick from the Notre Dame half all the way to the Aggie 18-yard box in the 40th minute, just out of the reach of senior forward Karin Simonian (Westbury, New York/W.T. Clarke). Texas A&M keeper Day came off her line to snag the long pass before Simonian could convert.
Gilbertson looked to send a hard pass through the middle of the Texas A&M zone in the 45th minute, and her stiff strike deflected back out to the top of the 18. Gilbertson was able to re-gather possession and get a right foot on the ball but just missed a square hit, allowing Day to collect a rolling save. Day’s save sent the Aggies to the break with a 1-0 lead.
“The expectation is to get to the final four, so at the end of the day there is disappointment right now because this was a game we felt that we should win,” Romagnolo said. “Again, credit to Texas A&M for finding a way to score the two goals, but we’re disappointed because we felt that we could achieve more today.”
For more information on the Fighting Irish women’s soccer program, follow Notre Dame on Twitter (@NDsoccernews or @NDSoccer), like the Fighting Irish on Facebook (facebook.com/NDWomenSoccer) or sign up for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the “Fan Center” pulldown menu on the main page at UND.com.
#5/5 Texas A&M 2, #12/11 Notre Dame 1
Nov. 23, 2014
College Station, Texas (Ellis Field) Notre Dame 0 1 – 1
Total Shots: ND 19 (7-12), TAMU 12 (7-6)
Shots on Goal: ND 6 (1-5), TAMU 6 (3-3)
Saves: ND 4 (Kaela Little 4 in 90:00), TAMU 5 (Jordan Day 5 in 90:00)
Corner Kicks: ND 8 (3-5), TAMU 5 (1-4)
Fouls: ND 8 (5-3), TAMU 9 (5-4)
Yellow Card: Mikaela Harvey (TAMU, 78:08)
Offsides: ND 2, TAMU 2
Records: ND 14-6-2; TAMU 21-2-2
— Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant