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#13 Irish Prevail In Defensive Battle With Wisconsin

Aug. 21, 2016

Box Score | Photo Gallery

By JP Bruno

NOTRE DAME, Ind. — On a day in which its offense struggled to find a rhythm, the 13th-ranked University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team used a strong defensive stand and an opponent miscue to walk out of Alumni Stadium with a 1-0 win over reigning Big Ten co-Champion Wisconsin on Sunday.

The Irish tallied the lone score of the game in the 24th minute on a cross attempt in front of the net by junior forward Karin Muya. A Badger defender slid into the box in an effort to aid her goalkeeper, but the ball deflected into the net for a Wisconsin own goal.

The Badgers emerged from halftime on the attack, but the Irish defense kept them off the board with a combination of timely clears and seven total saves from senior goalkeeper Kaela Little.

Player of the Game

Senior goalkeeper Kaela Little held strong between the posts as the Irish weathered a strong second-half attack by the Badgers. Little made seven saves in Sunday’s victory, five of which came during the second-half flurry. She posted her second solo shutout of the season to bring her career total to 27.

Play of the Game

The Badgers got one of their best offensive looks of the day late in the second half, as Wisconsin midfielder Grace Bahr got a shot off just inside the penalty box. Little managed to kick away the attempt. The rebound careened out to Badger defender Holly Heckendorf, whose shot was blocked and cleared away by Irish midfielder Shannon Hendricks to preserve the Irish lead.

Turning Point

The Badgers came to life in the second half, yet the Notre Dame defense held strong. Intercepted passes, successful clears, and acrobatic blocks by the back line preserved the first-half lead. With seven shots in the second half and five of them on goal, senior goalkeeper Kaela Little stood strong in net as the Irish turned strong defense into offensive opportunity.

Coach Theresa Romagnolo Says

On the defensive nature of the game…
“We started well; we were in a good rhythm and taking care of the ball. Wisconsin did a good job of keeping up the pressure, and we had to play much stronger defensively. We did a fantastic job of getting numbers behind the ball, doubling back on players, and not giving them a lot of great opportunities in front of the goal.”

On Wisconsin’s own goal…
Karin Muya did a great job of taking on her player and getting to the end line, playing a great ball in behind the back four. Ultimately they were facing the ball and knocked it in for an own goal. We played a dangerous ball into a good area of the field.”

On playing a quality opponent during the non-conference schedule…
“We’re going to have games like this where you have to grind it out, where you’re tied and both teams are just battling. To have this type of opponent this early in the season and to grind out a win over a great team, I think it was huge for us. In each game we play, we grow and learn lessons, and I’m looking forward to Michigan (on Thursday).”

Note of the Game

Wisconsin put five of its seven second-half shots on frame, while Irish goalkeeper Kaela Little registered saves on all of them.

#13 Notre Dame 1, Wisconsin 0
August 21, 2016
Notre Dame, Ind. (Alumni Stadium)

Wisconsin 0 0 — 0
Notre Dame 1 0 — 1

ND1. Wisconsin Own Goal (–) 23:29

Total Shots: ND 7 (3-4), UW 12 (5-7)
Shots on Goal: ND 3, UW 7
Saves: ND 7 (Kaela Little
7 in 90:00), UW 3 (Caitlyn Clem 3 in 90:00)
Corner Kicks: ND 3 (2-1), UW 4 (0-4)
Offsides: ND 1, UW 0
Attendance: 1805

Records: ND 2-0-0; UW 1-1-0
Next for ND: vs. Michigan, 7:30 p.m. ET Thursday at U-M Soccer Stadium (Ann Arbor, Mich.)