Sept. 4, 2016
by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. ÃƒÆ’Â¢ÃƒÂ¢’Â¬” Another strong defensive outing provided the University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team with a plethora of offensive opportunities in a nonconference showdown with Missouri on Sunday afternoon. Forward Jennifer Westendorf was rewarded for her persistent play on the attack throughout the game by connecting on the game-winning goal in the 61st minute, sending the Irish to a 1-0 win over the Tigers at Alumni Stadium.
No. 23 Notre Dame (5-1-0) completed its third consecutive shutout victory, limiting Missouri (4-2-0) to seven total shots (24-7 shots advantage) on Sunday. The Irish also held a 6-4 edge in corner kicks, setting up a number of scoring chances by way of set pieces during the game to control the run of play.
Westendorf’s goal was made possible by stellar give-and-go passing from Kaitlin Klawunder and Monica Flores. A leave from Klawunder set the sequence in motion and Flores’ pass found Westendorf in space, where a clinical left-footed finish from outside the 18-yard box into the right corner of the goal provided Notre Dame with its winning tally at 60:31.
Kaela Little made four saves in the Notre Dame goal to claim her fourth solo shutout of 2016. Little has earned 30 total clean sheets over the course of her Irish career.
Notre Dame heads out West for a pair of games in the state of California next weekend, beginning with a 10:30 p.m. (ET) match at Santa Clara on Sept. 9.
Play of the Game
Kaitlin Klawunder sparked the game-winning goal by saving possession for Notre Dame on the left sideline in the 61st minute. A Klawunder drop pass to Monica Flores allowed Flores to find Jennifer Westendorf out in front of the Missouri goal. Westendorf ripped a rocket left-footed shot from 20 yards out that bent inside the right post for her third goal of the season at 60:31.
Notre Dame controlled the run of play throughout against Missouri, especially in the first half with a 12-3 advantage in total shots. The Irish continued the momentum in the second frame, outshooting the Tigers 12-4 to finish the contest with a 24-7 shots edge for the game.
Player of the Game
Westendorf attempted a game-high 10 shots in her 78 minutes of play, connecting on the game-winning goal in the 61st minute. Westendorf leads all Notre Dame players with three goals thus far in 2016.
Coach Theresa Romagnolo Says
Overall assessment of team’s performance in three straight shutout victoriesÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦
“We’re a young team, so we’re learning what we’re going to do. I feel like now we have a standard to bring to each game, which is nice. Our defense has grown a lot, and I thought today in particular Ginny McGowan and Rachel Heard were fantastic at the center back position. Kaela Little is just so steady in goal, and as a group we are making better decisions on the ball and creating chances. We created a lot of really great chances today, more than we have against most teams that we’ve played this year. Everything is improving in a great direction heading out to California.”
Keys to success during recent winning streakÃƒÂ¢Ã¢’Â¬Â¦
“Better decision-making. We’re taking care of the ball. I think early on we were starting the other team’s attack a lot of times with some bad passes. There’s certain areas of the field where you just have to take care of the ball, and I think we were a little careless at times to give opponents the opportunity to counter in our half by overpassing into pressure. Now, we’re doing a much better job of bypassing the pressure and finding our players.”
Note of the Game
The Irish defense has not allowed a goal against the run of play in over 290 minutes, dating back to a nonconference game at Michigan on Aug. 25.
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2012 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame softball and men’s soccer programs. A native of Jamestown, New York, Jones is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and prior to arriving at Notre Dame held positions at the University of Louisiana Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.