Sophomore goalkeeper Kaela Little won 13 games and posted eight total shutouts during her first season at Notre Dame in 2013

#23/19 Irish Fall In Heartbreaker At #11 Michigan, 1-0, In NCAA Third Round

Nov. 24, 2013

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Even being a player down, after a red card issued halfway through the second half, did not quell the spirit of the Notre Dame women’s soccer team. The Fighting Irish mounted a handful of late chances with only 10 on their side but were unable to produce the equalizer, and No. 11 Michigan escaped with a 1-0 victory over No. 23/19 Notre Dame Sunday afternoon in the third round of the NCAA Championship at the U-M Soccer Stadium.

Notre Dame closes its inaugural Atlantic Coast Conference season 13-8-1 after reaching the final 16 of the NCAA tournament for the 13th time since 1997.

The Wolverines (18-3-1) broke through in the 55th minute, as a cross sent in was inadvertently knocked down by a Notre Dame defender’s hand inside the box. Meghan Toohey connected on the ensuing penalty kick past freshman goalkeeper Kaela Little (Tulsa, Okla./Bishop Kelley) for the first goal of the match and gave the hosts a 1-0 lead.

The Fighting Irish entered the 2013 NCAA Championship with only two penalty kick goals allowed in 80 postseason matches in the previous 20 years. Both goals scored in three contests during this season’s tournament were taken from the penalty area.

Notre Dame was forced to play the last 23 minutes plus of the match down one player after junior defender Sammy Scofield (Geneva, Ill./Geneva) was shown a straight red card at 66:36 for impeding the progress of Michigan forward Nkem Ezurike after both players jostled shoulder-to-shoulder down the pitch.

Notre Dame battled gamely onward, earning a free kick from 30-yards out after Michigan’s Tori McCombs was shown a yellow card at 76:13. A cross attempt from freshman midfielder Morgan Andrews (Milford, N.H./Milford) sailed right to Michigan goalkeeper Taylor Bucklin to thwart the threat.

Michigan poured on the pressure within the final minutes of the contest, as Little turned a shot in close from Ezurike away, and the rebound attempt drifted out of play to the left to stop the Wolverine offensive.

Little logged a match-high seven saves, including four in the second half, to spearhead the Notre Dame defense.

The Fighting Irish had their first chance of the match in the ninth minute, when Andrews settled a pass just inside the 18, but her shot travelled over the top of the crossbar and landed on the roof of the net.

Senior midfielder/tri-captain Mandy Laddish (Lee’s Summit, Mo./Lee’s Summit) then rang a straightaway blast from the top of the box off the crossbar at the 14:47 mark. Freshman forward Kaleigh Olmsted (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands) was right in front to clean up the rebound, but the Fighting Irish attacker was whistled for being offside.

Michigan had its first real chance at the 30:37 mark of the first half, when forward Ezurike got loose down the left wing and ripped a shot that was tipped aside by Little. Toohey had a great look at the rebound in front, but a heads up defensive play by Scofield altered the shot and allowed Little to make a sprawling stop in front to prevent a Wolverine goal.

Notre Dame gained traction on the attack during the 50th minute. Sophomore defender Brittany Von Rueden (Mequon, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels) served up a high corner kick into the box. Sophomore Glory Williams (Dallas, Texas/Lake Highlands) was able to head the ball toward the frame, but the shot attempt sailed high and over the net.

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#11/11 Michigan 1, #23/19 Notre Dame 0
NCAA Championship – Third Round
Nov. 24, 2013
Ann Arbor, Mich. (U-M Soccer Stadium)

Notre Dame 0 0 — 0
Michigan 0 1 — 1

U-M 1. Meghan Toohey 5 (PK) 54:50.

Total Shots: ND 10 (7-3), U-M 22 (9-13)
Shots on Goal: ND 4 (2-2), U-M 8 (2-6)
Saves: ND 7 (Kaela Little 7 in 90:00), U-M 4 (Taylor Bucklin 4 in 90:00)
Corner Kicks: ND 3 (2-1), U-M 5 (1-4)
Fouls: ND 10 (5-5), U-M 7 (5-2)
Offsides: ND 1, U-M 3
Attendance: 444
Yellow Cards: Katie Naughton (ND) 56:09; Tori McCombs (U-M) 76:13
Red Card: Sammy Scofield (ND) 66:36
Records: Notre Dame 13-8-1, Michigan 18-3-1


— Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant