Aug. 28, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Sophomore forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) collected a goal and an assist, and sophomore defender Molly Campbell (Mission Hills, Kan./St. Teresa’s Academy) added an important insurance goal early in the second half as No. 2 Notre Dame picked up its second victory in as many tries this season with a 2-0 win over Loyola-Chicago Friday night at a waterlogged Alumni Field. It was a fitting farewell for the “grand old palace” of Fighting Irish soccer, as Notre Dame will open the new state-of-the-art Alumni Stadium next weekend following nearly two decades on the east campus pitch (and which saw the Fighting Irish post a 222-16-4 all-time record from 1990-2009, including 27 consecutive victories to close the facility).
Extended rain showers throughout the day, followed by a steady downpour about an hour prior to kickoff left the field soaked, with numerous patches of standing water. That challenge, coupled with a spirited effort from the defending Horizon League regular-season champion Ramblers (who ran out 25 players and often times had the fourth official playing the role of a traffic cop with frequent substitutions), resulted in a slow and uneven pace of play for much of the evening and kept the Fighting Irish from finding even more success in their offensive third.
“Much like last week, I’ve got some mixed feelings about tonight’s game,” Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum. “We certainly had a hard time getting into a rhythm out there, and our possession game was not as sharp as it could have been. On the other hand, we got some excellent play from Molly (Campbell), especially in the second half, and I thought (sophomores) Courtney (Barg) and Jess (Schuveiller) also looked solid out there. It’s nice that we could send Alumni Field out with a win, and we’ll look forward to moving into our new home next week.”
The Fighting Irish (2-0-0) outshot the Ramblers, 21-6 in the contest, including a 13-3 margin in shots on goal and a 7-3 edge in corner kicks. Senior goalkeeper Kelsey Lysander (San Diego, Calif./Rancho Bernardo) went the distance for Notre Dame, earning her first solo shutout of the season (along with a shared clean sheet last Friday vs. Wisconsin). The veteran netminder made three saves in recording her 11th career solo shutout and 29th career combined whitewash. Lysander’s opposite number, Loyola’s Katie Groesch, was stellar between the pipes, finishing with 11 saves.
After going scoreless in the first half of last week’s season-opening victory over Wisconsin, Notre Dame looked poised to rectify that in the opening two minutes of Friday’s match with Loyola, as freshman forward Tereza Stastny (Calgary, Alberta/Bishop Carroll) slipped a pretty thru-ball to Barg in the right channel, with the second-year playmaker getting a 1-v-1 opportunity on Groesch, but the Rambler goalkeeper charged out and smothered Barg’s shot at the edge of the six-yard box. Less than seven minutes later Stastny and Barg teamed up again, but this time, the Loyola defense came to the rescue and blocked Barg’s shot before it could get on frame.
After the early probing runs up the middle, the Fighting Irish turned to the flanks for their opening score. Stastny settled a ball at the edge of the offensive third and quickly sprang junior defender Julie Scheidler (Indianapolis, Ind./Bishop Chatard) on an overlapping run down the right side. Scheidler angled towards the area, then cut a sharp low service back to Henderson, who was parked 10 yards out in the goal mouth. The Hermann Trophy candidate swiftly turned on her right shoulder and hammered a rising left-footed shot that beat a diving Groesch to the upper middle netting at the 13:24 mark. It was Henderson’s second goal of the season, and it also stand as her second gamewinning tally in 2009.
Although Notre Dame had several other opportunities to pad its lead in the first half, the Fighting Irish had to settle for the one-goal margin. The hosts outshot Loyola, 9-4 in the opening 45 minutes, while the teams split four corner kick chances.
Halftime adjustments have long been a staple of Notre Dame’s success, and on this night, it would be no different. Less than three minutes into the second half, Barg sent Henderson on a run down the left flank, before the Texan pivoted at the end line and snapped a left-footed service across the face of goal. Somehow, the ball found its way through traffic and ended up on Campbell’s foot at the top right corner of the area, and the sophomore back cranked up a laser that sizzled past Groesch into the left side netting at 47:56.
While that would be the final tally of the evening, Notre Dame maintained control of the flow with a methodical effort and frequent offensive pressure, including four shots on goal by Campbell in the first 12 minutes of the second half (she finished with a match-high six shots, all on goal). The renewed aggression had Loyola (0-3-0) scrambling for any offensive chance it could find, and the Ramblers’ best try came at the 53-minute mark, when Jessie Hubly fired a 20-yard shot to Lysander’s right, but the Notre Dame goalkeeper was equal to the task and came up with a diving stop at the right post.
Friday’s victory sets up a potential battle between the nation’s top two teams next Friday, Sept. 4, when top-ranked North Carolina comes to town for a 7:30 p.m. (ET) match against Notre Dame in the first round of the Inn at Saint Mary’s Classic at the brand-new Alumni Stadium. Tickets for all Fighting Irish home contests this season are available through the Notre Dame Athletics Ticket Office (574-631-7356), on-line at the official Fighting Irish athletics web site (www.UND.com/tickets), and at the Alumni Stadium ticket windows on game night.
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: The Fighting Irish have won a school-record 30 consecutive regular-season matches since a 2-1 loss to #14 Penn State on Sept. 23, 2007; the 30-game unbeaten streak also is the third-longest in school history, topped only by a 31-game run (29-0-2) from Oct. 24, 1999-Sept. 30, 2001, and a 32-game streak (30-0-2) from Oct. 17, 1993-Oct. 1, 1995 … Notre Dame improves to 6-0-0 all-time in the series against Loyola-Chicago (5-0-0 at home) and has not allowed a goal in any of those six matches (combined 42-0 scoring margin) … the Fighting Irish and Ramblers had not played since the first round of the 2007 NCAA Championship, when Notre Dame earned a 3-0 victory at Alumni Field behind two Brittany Bock goals, three Kerri Hanks assists and a combined shutout for Lauren Karas and Lysander (who made one save in the final 16 minutes) … Notre Dame extends its scoring streak to 54 consecutive games dating back to the 2007 season opener vs. Michigan (a 0-0 tie), making it the second-longest scoring run in school history (55 from Aug. 29, 1997-Sept. 17, 1999) … the Fighting Irish also picked up their 27th consecutive home victory and are 69-2-2 (.959) on their home pitch since the start of the 2004 season (both losses came by 2-1 scores to top-16 opponents Oklahoma State and Penn State a week apart Sept. 16 & 23, 2007) … since that loss to Penn State, Notre Dame has compiled a 44-2-1 (.947) overall record, with its only two defeats coming in the NCAA College Cup (3-2 to #14 Florida State in 2007 semifinals; 2-1 to #4 North Carolina in 2008 final) along with a 1-1 tie at #12 West Virginia in the 2007 BIG EAST Championship final (WVU won on penalties, 5-3) … the Fighting Irish now have shut out 20 of their last 29 opponents since the start of the 2008 season, with Lysander having a hand in all 20 clean sheets (11 solo, 9 shared) … in the past 29 games (covering 2,627:50), Notre Dame also has trailed for a grand total of 4:05, never by more than a goal and never for longer than 2:06 at any time … the Fighting Irish now are 376-9-15 (.959) in their 21-plus year history when allowing 0-1 goals in a game, along with a 281-game winning streak when taking a 2-0 lead (304-0-1 all-time) … Henderson notched her fifth career multi-point game on Friday, and first since last year’s regular-season finale vs. Seton Hall on Oct. 26, when she scored twice in a 6-0 victory at Alumni Field … Henderson has 19 goals and 41 points in 29 career games, with seven of those goals being gamewinners … Campbell scored her second career goal, the other tally coming on Sept. 12, 2008, in a 5-0 win over SMU at Alumni Field … Scheidler earned her seventh career assist, and sixth in the past 22 games, with Friday’s first-half helper … Stastny is the first Fighting Irish freshman to crack the starting lineup this season.