Junior midfielder/tri-captain Elizabeth Tucker and the Fighting Irish will open their 25th anniversary season Friday with a 1 p.m. (ET) exhibition against No. 7 Virginia at the Notre Dame Practice Field (admission is free).

#20/24 Irish Settle For Frustrating 1-1 Draw At South Florida

Sept. 22, 2011

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TAMPA – Freshman forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita) scored her second goal in as many matches, but No. 20/24 Notre Dame gave up the tying goal with 3:39 remaining and had to settle for a 1-1 BIG EAST Conference draw at South Florida before a crowd of 1,124 on a stormy Thursday night at Corbett Soccer Stadium in Tampa, Fla.

Bohaboy’s goal in the 28th minute, off an assist from sophomore midfielder Rebecca Twining (Houston, Texas/Second Baptist School), looked like it would hold up as the match-winner until Valorie O’Brien drew the hosts level by heading home a cross from Molly Stack in the dying minutes.

The score spoiled another statistically-overwhelming night by Notre Dame (4-4-2, 1-1-1 BIG EAST), which doubled up the Bulls in total shots by a 26-13 margin, including a 9-7 edge in shots on goal. Notre Dame also held the upper hand in corner kicks (8-7), while USF was called for five of the nine fouls in the physical match. Two cautions also were issued during the contest, with the Bulls’ Chelsea Klotz getting her yellow card in the 72nd minute, and Fighting Irish senior forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) going into the book in the 85th minute.

Junior goalkeeper Maddie Fox (San Jose, Calif./Leigh) turned in a strong performance between the pipes for Notre Dame, recording a career-high six saves, including a pair of sparkling stops in the second half. USF netminder Nicole McClure kept her team in the match with eight saves, five of which came in the opening 45 minutes, when the Fighting Irish outshot the Bulls, 12-3 (6-0 on goal).

“It’s a really disappointing finish to a match that started well for us,” Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. “We continue to have trouble putting together a complete 90-minute effort, and until we do, this is the result we’re going to be left with. Sure, getting a point on the road in conference is valuable, but we can’t keep giving away opportunities like this and expect to be where we want to be at the end of the season.”

The match was delayed for one hour prior to kickoff when strong thunderstorms rolled through the Tampa area and produced significant lightning. Once the storms passed, the Fighting Irish came out well, maintaining much of the possession, while USF (4-3-3, 0-1-2) seemed to content to settle into a defensive posture. However, the Bulls countered with remarkable speed and nearly caught Notre Dame napping midway through the first half, as Klotz raced down the right channel and fired a sharp-angled shot that caromed off the left post (24:25).

Less than three minutes later, the Fighting Irish got on the board, as Twining collected the ball at the top of the attacking third in the middle of the pitch and drove toward goal before deftly cutting an angled pass to Bohaboy on a run in the left channel towards the penalty area. Bohaboy cut away from her defender and ripped a rising left-footed shot that buried high into the upper right corner of the net past a diving McClure (27:11).

That proved to be the best remaining chance for either side in the first half, with Notre Dame getting balanced results for its 12 shots, as nine of the 10 starters in the field (minus Fox) were able to record a shot.

USF changed its formation in the second half, going to a more aggressive attacking look in a bid to find the equalizer. The move paid off to a certain extent even before the tying goal, as the Bulls earned six of their seven corner kicks in the period.

Yet, the Fighting Irish remained on the front foot early in the half, with Henderson taking a pass from sophomore midfielder Mandy Laddish (Lee’s Summit, Mo./Lee’s Summit) at the top of the box and driving a low shot on the wet turf that McClure did well to stop with a dive to her right in the 53rd minute.

From that save (which was pushed out for a corner kick), Notre Dame would eventually get two tries from the flag, the second finding Henderson on the right flank and her well-weight cross into the goalmouth found senior midfielder Brynn Gerstle (Louisville, Ky./Assumption) near the back post, but her six-yard header landed on the roof of the goal (53:45).

As the physicality in the match picked up, so did USF’s confidence. The momentum for the hosts rose even higher just past the hour mark, when Klotz had a go from 25 yards out in the left channel and the shot was ticketed for the underside of the crossbar, only to be denied by a leaping Fox, who parried the ball over the top (61:10).

The Fighting Irish then countered brilliantly after clearing out the ensuing corner kick, as freshman forward Karin Simonian (Westbury, N.Y./W.T. Clarke) played a ball ahead to Henderson on a run-out, and the All-America striker raced 40 yards down the left channel into the penalty area before cranking up a low left-footed drive that beat McClure, but just skittered wide of the right post.

With less than 20 minutes to go, Notre Dame continued to be in command, outshooting the Bulls, 20-6, including a 7-2 advantage in shots on goal. However, that’s when USF mustered all of its efforts (not to mention additional attackers) and put the Fighting Irish under pressure the rest of the way.

In the 82nd minute, Demi Stokes worked a give-and-go with Klotz at the top of the area, but Fox read the play very well, sprinting off her line and smothering the ball before the Bulls could get a shot off.

Ultimately, USF’s attacking mentality paid off, starting with a corner kick from the far flag at 85:45. The Fighting Irish cleared it out to the far sideline, but Stack caught up to the ball on a dead sprint, keeping it in play and quickly whipping a cross back into the heart of the box, where O’Brien caught the Notre Dame defense flat-footed and nodded in a point-blank header at 86:21.

Both teams would have solid chances in the two overtime periods with a handful of set pieces, but nothing would come to fruition. Simonian had the best look for either side in extra time, finding room on the left side of the area and striking a 12-yard shot that McClure stopped with a dive to her left in the first minute of the second overtime.

Notre Dame will be back on the pitch at 1 p.m. CT (2 p.m. ET) Sunday when it takes on No. 14/15 Marquette at Valley Fields in Milwaukee. Live stats and a live interactive chat for that match will be available on the official Fighting Irish athletics web site, www.UND.com and the new Irish UNDerground blog (www.UND.com/blog).

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 played its third overtime match of the season, going 0-1-2 in extra time this year (and 20-5-13 in overtime during the 13-year Randy Waldrum era) … for the fourth consecutive match, and the seventh time in 10 matches this year, the Fighting Irish outshot their opponent by 2-to-1 margin (or better) … in its last seven outings, Notre Dame has registered 191 shots (27.3 per match), including 74 shots on goal (10.6 per match), yet the Fighting Irish have 18 goals in that span (one goal every 10.6 shots, or 4.1 shots on goal) … in its first three series matches with USF, Notre Dame outscored the Bulls, 12-0 with statistical margins of 83-10 (shots), 39-3 (shots on goal) and 18-5 (corner kicks) … the Fighting Irish remain unbeaten all-time against BIG EAST schools from Florida (9-0-1; 6-0 vs. Miami, 3-0-1 vs. USF) … Notre Dame is 15-2-2 (.842) all-time against Florida schools including a 5-1-2 (.750) mark when playing in the Sunshine State … Thursday’s match marked the second time this year the Fighting Irish have had to sit through a lightning delay — their Sept. 9 contest at No. 2 Stanford was halted for 49 minutes late in the first half (not to mention the entire Aug. 26 match at No. 3 North Carolina was played under the impending threat of Hurricane Irene).