Oct. 22, 2014
DATE: Oct. 23, 2014
TIME: 7 p.m. ET
LOCATION: Notre Dame, Ind. (Alumni Stadium – cap. 3,007)
LAST MEETING: ND 2-0 (10/27/13 at CU)
TEXT ALERTS: Sign up at UND.com
– The Fighting Irish are 1-0 all-time against Clemson.
– Notre Dame is unbeaten all-time against four current ACC teams entering Thursday’s match: Pittsburgh (12-0-1), Syracuse (11-0), Wake Forest (4-0-1) and Clemson (1-0).
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team returns to Alumni Stadium for its final regular season homestand of 2014 this weekend, beginning with Clemson on Thursday night. The 7 p.m. (ET) match will be streamed live on WatchND (WatchND.tv).
The No. 9/7 Fighting Irish (10-4-1, 5-2 ACC) and No. 20 Tigers (11-2-2, 4-2-1 ACC) will meet for just the second time in series history, after Notre Dame claimed a 2-0 win at Historic Riggs Field in Clemson, South Carolina, on Oct. 27, 2013.
Second half goals from junior midfielder/tri-captain Cari Roccaro (East Islip, New York/East Islip) and sophomore forward Kaleigh Olmsted (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands) powered Notre Dame to a 2-0 win over Syracuse last Saturday night in Atlantic Coast Conference play at the SU Soccer Stadium. The Fighting Irish improved to 11-0 all-time against Syracuse with Saturday’s win.
Notre Dame is now 6-0-1 in true road matches this season, and has not allowed a goal on the road in the past 628 minutes of game action dating back to the 23rd minute at Illinois on Aug. 22.
Notre Dame’s crucial home showdown against Clemson, with ACC Championship implications weighing heavily on the outcome, just so happened to fall during the University’s first semester break. Being able to focus on soccer during the academic interlude, Fighting Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo said, has been beneficial to her team without drastically changing its routine.
“They get to relax and kind of recharge,” Romagnolo said. “They get to spend some time together, and for us it’s no different on the practice field. We’re still training and keeping pretty much our normal schedule.”
Notre Dame prepares for its last regular season weekend at Alumni Stadium with results in eight of its last 11 contests overall. With a conference tournament bid within reach, such a streak as the postseason approaches is what the Fighting Irish have been building toward throughout the 2014 campaign.
“We’re playing very well right now,” Romagnolo said. “I think there is a lot of confidence to be taken from the way we’re competing, and the energy and toughness we’re bringing to the field. At the end of the day you have to go out and earn a win every day you step on the field.
“We’ve really controlled a lot of the tempo of our most recent games,” Romagnolo added. “I think that’s that toughness factor for me, stepping on a field and dominating, taking our game to our opponent.”
Clemson arrives on Notre Dame’s campus winners of four of its last five matches, and is a mere two points behind Notre Dame for the fourth position in the ACC standings. Along with being the seventh different ranked team to take the pitch against Notre Dame this season, the Tigers are in direct competition with the Fighting Irish for the fourth and final ACC Championship slot.
“For me it is a bit like a playoff game, which I think is fantastic to be put in that position at this point in the season and see how we respond,” Romagnolo said. “At the end of the day, the focus is on our performance. We need to go out there and give our best performance. If we do that, I will be happy with the result.
“(Clemson) is another good team,” she added. “We’ve seen a lot of very good teams this year. It’s going to be about shutting down their great players and stopping them from playing the way they want to play, and us getting a hold of the ball and controlling the tempo of the game.”
With national No. 2 Florida State (14-1), No. 3 Virginia (14-1) and No. 5 North Carolina (10-2-1) occupying the top three seeds currently in the ACC season standings, the four-team ACC Championship could shape up to be as challenging as the NCAA Women’s College Cup this December in Boca Raton, Florida. Reaching that stage on the conference level first, Romagnolo said, can only help Notre Dame reach for its ultimate goal of a national championship.
“There are a lot of reasons why I would love to get to the ACC tournament,” Romagnolo said. “It’s great for the RPI games, but secondly it’s great preparation for the NCAA tournament. (A chance) to play against teams that could all potentially make the final four.”
The key to reaching the upper echelon of the ACC remains simple; play winning soccer to finish the regular season. Based on the demeanor and drive her Fighting Irish have displayed through their first 15 matches, Romagnolo is optimistic that Notre Dame’s winning mentality will propel the squad as the ACC regular season draws to a close.
“I think that can be a difference maker,” Romagnolo said. “When you’ve got two great teams, it’s going to be about the team that brings a bit more of an edge. That edge is confidence, toughness and a belief to get the job done, and I think right now we’re starting to feel that within the squad.
“I think (our intensity) has actually increased over the course of the season,” she said. “It’s a very competitive roster, so every day in training you see the intensity level out on the field. That’s making everybody better.”
For more information on the Fighting Irish women’s soccer program, follow Notre Dame on Twitter (@NDsoccernews or @NDSoccer), like the Fighting Irish on Facebook (facebook.com/NDWomenSoccer) or sign up for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the “Fan Center” pulldown menu on the main page at UND.com.
— Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant
Clemson heads back to the road in ACC play after winning three straight ACC home matches over Duke (1-0), Syracuse (1-0) and Miami (2-0). The Tigers posted an 11-2-2 mark over the season’s first 15 contests, outscoring opponents in the aggregate season goal count 31-8.
Sophomore midfielder/forward Catrina Atanda is the team leader in goals (6), points (14) and shots (35) through the first 15 matches of 2014, including one game-winning goal. Freshman forward Salma Anastasio has added five goals and three assists, while freshman forward Shannon Horgan has chipped in a team-high six assists.
Sophomore goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan has logged the majority of minutes in the Clemson net this season, compiling a 10-2-2 record and a 0.59 goals-against average. Sheridan has added six solo shutouts.
Head coach Eddie Radwanski is in his third season at Clemson, and enters Thursday’s match with a 24-10-8 career mark with the Tigers. Radwanski arrived at Clemson in 2012 after 10 seasons as the head coach at UNC Greensboro. During his tenure at UNC Greensboro, Radwanski coached 19 NSCAA Regional All-Americans, 46 All-Southern Conference selections, five SoCon Freshmen of the Year, five SoCon Players of the Year and four SoCon Tournament Most Valuable Players. He was also a three-time SoCon Coach of the Year, in 2006, 2007 and 2008.
THE NOTRE DAME-CLEMSON SERIES
Notre Dame defeated Clemson 2-0 on Oct. 27, 2013 at Historic Riggs Field in the first meeting between the teams in series history. Clemson is one of four current ACC teams that are winless against Notre Dame all-time, with the others being Pittsburgh (12-0-1), Syracuse (11-0) and Wake Forest (4-0-1).
THE LAST TIME NOTRE DAME AND CLEMSON MET
Forwards Kaleigh Olmsted and Crystal Thomas scored goals early in each half to help Notre Dame secure a berth in its first Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Championship with a 2-0 win over Clemson on Oct. 27, 2013 at Historic Riggs Field in Clemson, South Carolina.
Olmsted headed in a right-side cross from midfielder/tri-captain Mandy Laddish at the 7:12 mark of the first half, staking the Fighting Irish to a lead they would never relinquish. Thomas then added the critical insurance goal at 58:01, scoring from close range off an assist from forward Lauren Bohaboy.
Goalkeeper Kaela Little made four saves to register her fifth solo shutout of the season (and the seventh for Notre Dame), and the first clean sheet for her side since Sept. 29, when the Fighting Irish blanked Pittsburgh, 3-0 at Alumni Stadium.
Notre Dame wound up with a narrow 13-12 edge in total shots, as well as a 7-4 advantage in shots on goal and 5-3 margin on corner kicks. Clemson was whistled for 11 of the 18 fouls during the match, while the Fighting Irish received the lone yellow card of the afternoon.
LAST TIME OUT: SYRACUSE
It took nearly 70 minutes for its offensive pressure to reflect on the scoreboard, but Notre Dame put on a clinic on a rainy Saturday night in Syracuse. Second half goals from midfielder/tri-captain Cari Roccaro and forward Kaleigh Olmsted powered the Fighting Irish to a 2-0 win over the Orange in Atlantic Coast Conference play at the SU Soccer Stadium.
Notre Dame improved to 11-0 all-time against Syracuse, picking up the fifth win in program history at the SU Soccer Stadium. The Fighting Irish are now 6-0-1 in true road matches this season, and have not allowed a goal on the road in the past 628 minutes of game action dating back to the 23rd minute at Illinois on Aug. 22.
Notre Dame closed the match with a sizeable 30-2 advantage in the shot column, including a dominant 19-1 margin in the second half alone. Over the past three matches, the Fighting Irish have outshot opponents a combined 93-13, holding a 9-0 goals edge during the three-game winning streak.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: SYRACUSE
-Three of the four career goals scored by forward Kaleigh Olmsted have come in ACC play. Olmsted tallied her first career conference goal last October at Clemson (Oct. 27, 2013), and has added goals at Virginia Tech (Sept. 25) and at Syracuse thus far this season.
-The game-winning goal scored by midfielder/tri-captain Cari Roccaro in the 69th minute of Saturday’s match at Syracuse was her sixth career ACC goal, the most among all Notre Dame players in the team’s second season as a conference member.
-In its five ACC victories in 2014, including a perfect 4-0 mark in conference road games, Notre Dame is outshooting opponents 118-40, including a 48-17 margin in shots on goal.
TUCKER NAMED NCAA WOMAN OF THE YEAR
Former two-time captain and 2014 Notre Dame graduate Elizabeth Tucker added to her sterling resume on Sunday night by being named the first-ever Notre Dame recipient of the NCAA Woman of the Year award. You can learn more about Tucker’s honor by visiting UND.com.
ANOTHER ROAD TRIP, ANOTHER WIN
Notre Dame improved to 6-0-1 in true road matches in 2014 with a 2-0 win at Syracuse on last Saturday, extending its ACC record in contests away from home to 4-0. The Fighting Irish have outscored opponents a combined 12-1 on their counterpart’s home field thus far in 2014, allowing a meager 24 shots on goal over 650 minutes of play.
Eight different players have tallied goals in away matches this season, with sophomore midfielder Morgan Andrews, junior forward Anna Maria Gilbertson and sophomore forward Kaleigh Olmsted leading the way with two goals each. Andrews has chipped in two assists for a team-high six points in seven road starts.
Sophomore goalkeeper Kaela Little has earned six solo shutouts away from Alumni Stadium, posting a nearly flawless 0.14 goals-against average and .958 save percentage. Little has not allowed a goal on the road since the 23rd minute of the regular season opener at Illinois on Aug. 22, a span of just over 628 minutes of match action.
IRISH DOMINATE IN CONFERENCE PLAY
Entering Thursday’s match against Clemson, Notre Dame is 177-18-11 (.886) all-time in conference play dating back to the 1991 season. The Fighting Irish have never lost more than five league matches in a single season, and have posted unbeaten conference marks on 15 occasions.
NEXT UP FOR THE IRISH: LOUISVILLE
Notre Dame closes the 2014 regular season slate at Alumni Stadium on Sunday, hosting Louisville at 1 p.m. (ET) on ESPN3.