Sept. 25, 2016
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — On a sun-splashed day at Alumni Stadium, the University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team turned in a bright offensive performance to defeat Pittsburgh 4-0 Sunday in its Atlantic Coast Conference home opener.
The Irish scored all four goals in the first half against the Panthers, displaying the kind of crisp execution they have been looking to see consistently all season. Seven different Irish players tallied points on the day, and all four goals came on crosses.
Senior forward Kaleigh Olmsted led the Irish with three points (one goal, one assist), including her first goal of the season. Freshman forward Jennifer Westendorf added her team-leading fifth goal of the season to go along with four shots and a game-high two shots on goal. Junior forward Meghan Doyle also added four shots and one assist for the Irish.
Player of the Game
With seven Irish earning points in Sunday’s victory, it would be unfair to single out any one player as the game’s best. Notre Dame had goals by junior forward Kaitlin Klawunder (fifth minute), Jennifer Westendorf (14th minute), Olmsted (18th minute) and junior forward Karin Muya (39th minute). On the defensive end, the Irish unit held the Panthers to 5 shots, while senior goalkeepers Kaela Little and Kiley Adams helped the Irish to their eighth clean sheet of the season.
Junior defender Monica Flores assisted on Klawunder’s goal, sending in the service on Notre Dame’s first corner kick to record the helper on what proved to be the game-winner. Olmsted sent in a cross from the near sideline to assist on Westendorf’s goal, while sophomore defender Natalie Ward arched a cross into the box from 20 yards to find Olmsted for the game’s third goal. Doyle earned the assist on Muya’s header goal, another cross from the near side and into the goal box.
Play of the Game
Each of Notre Dame’s goals came off crisp passing connections, but perhaps the cleanest came in the 14th minute when Olmsted took the ball up the left flank and lifted her cross into the goal box for Westendorf, who met the ball on the run and netted the volley from six yards.
Olmsted tallied her first goal of the season in the 18th minute Sunday, heading in an arching, 20 yard pass from sophomore defender Natalie Ward.
The Panthers earned a corner kick in the third minute of the game, but the Irish really controlled the contest from start to finish. Notre Dame owned a 23-5 shot advantage, including a 10-2 advantage in shots on goal, and took 11 corner kicks to Pitt’s two.
Coach Theresa.Romagnolo Says
On making an offensive statement early in the game…
“It’s huge. It gives you that nice cushion to try some different people in new positions, to rest some people. We wanted to stay sharp and focused in the second half after being up 4-0, but it gave me the opportunity to play people who don’t get as many minutes and give them that look, so it was a great day.”
On all four goals and other chances coming off crosses…
“I feel like we’ve been close on a lot of opportunities and we’ve been winning 1-0 or tying, and I think the flood gates just opened a bit. They were excited to be back at home and just attacking balls in the box. We had a lot of good numbers in the final third.”
On returning home after four games on the road…
“There’s nothing like your home field with your own fans and friends and family who come out and support you. It’s your field, your locker room, sleeping in your own bed. It all makes a difference. I think we’ve been performing well on the road, too, but it’s nice not to have to travel the day before this game.”
Note of the Game
The Irish had recorded their highest goal total of the year before halftime. It was also a season high for points in a game, as the Irish tallied 12.
— 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.