Oct. 6, 2016
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — In a match featuring an opponent with a polar opposite playing style, the No. 20 University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team knew discipline would be the difference Thursday against No. 12 Clemson.
It was that disciplined style of team defense and ball possession that shone through for the Irish as they shut down the nation’s No. 2 scoring offense in a 1-0 victory at Alumni Stadium.
The Irish (9-1-3, 4-0-1 ACC) led the Tigers (8-3-2, 2-1-2) in shots, 14-10, and would have held the advantage in time of possession if such a statistic existed. In taking care of the ball, the Irish waited for their opportunity, pouncing on it in the 70th minute as senior forward Kaleigh Olmsted headed in the game winner off a well-executed corner kick.
The win extends the Irish current unbeaten streak to 10 games, its longest since a 13-game streak in 2010.
Player of the Game
Olmsted netted her second goal of the season, which proved to be the difference in the ACC chess match. Olmsted also led the Irish with two shots on goal.
Senior goalkeeper Kaela Little came up big again for the Irish, snaring six saves as the Irish handed Clemson its first shutout of the season. Apart from turning away shots on goal, Little was instrumental in breaking up Clemson set pieces into the box and directing the defense from the net.
Play of the Game
With the Irish and Tigers playing even through nearly 70 minutes, the Irish capitalized on their third corner kick opportunity. Monica Flores served it in for the Irish where it found the head of junior midfielder Taylor Klawunder. The ensuing ball hit the ground and bounced back for Olmsted, who poked it past Clemson goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan for her second goal of the season and the ultimate game-winner.
The team’s goal proved to be a launch point for the Irish. Once the Irish scored, they continued to apply pressure, firing six of their 14 shots in the final 20 minutes after taking the lead, three of which were on goal. By contrast, the Tigers managed just three more shots, none of which truly threatened to tie the game.
Coach Theresa Romagnolo Says
On starting the game with possession of the ball, but few chances…
“I thought we took care of the ball really well and were defending pretty well. Something we talked about at halftime was just being more aggressive. I thought that our outside backs could take the space more and attack that wide area to create some numerical advantages. I felt we were more aggressive and were looking to go forward more in the second half and thought we looked a lot more dangerous.”
On recording shutouts in every home game this season…
“I’m going to credit the team defense on the whole. They’re all playing well starting from our front line getting good pressure. I think our midfield is so athletic and they anticipate well, so they make it really difficult for teams to play in the middle and I think our back four is reading the game really well. They each bring something different, but they’re all playing together really well as a group.”
On the difference in the game…
“I think you’ve got to chalk it up to just finding a way to get it done. These games are chess matches and you’re playing a good opponent and I felt that we weren’t going to break. We stayed very disciplined in what we were doing and we added that little bit of quality to attack the goal.
“Kaleigh did an excellent job to get on the end of that set piece and [Taylor Klawunder] had that great header and Kaleigh was ready in the box. A lot of times set pieces can be the difference-maker. We were ready and I think we were waiting for our opportunity.”
Note of the Game
The Irish are 7-0-0 at home this season and have allowed zero goals at Alumni Stadium. It was also the first time this season that Clemson — which entered the game leading the nation in total goals, total assists, total points, assists per game and points per game — was held to zero goals in a match.
— ND —
Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, and earned her master’s degree in sports industry management from Georgetown University in 2013.