Oct. 19, 2017
By Megan Golden
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — In an incredibly significant top-25 matchup on the road, the University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team defeated No. 18 Florida State 4-3 in a thrilling, down-to-the-wire conference clash. The Irish (8-5-3, 4-3-1), which led at halftime, ultimately came from behind to knock off Florida State (10-5, 4-4) with a goal in the 87th minute on Thursday at the Seminole Soccer Complex.
Notre Dame’s late-game victory marked the first of its kind as every previous win had come by two or more goals.
How It Happened
Florida State opened the match with a shot fired from 35 yards out and saved by senior goalkeeper Lexi Nicholas. The Irish defense withstood the Seminoles first three shots, all coming in the first 10 minutes of play.
The Irish responded with four unanswered shots of their own. In the 28th minute, sophomore Jennifer Westendorf drew a foul to set up a straightaway free kick from 10 yards outside the box. Westendorf capitalized, netting her career-high seventh goal of the season and giving the Irish a 1-0 lead (28:07).
Notre Dame’s offense worked the ball up the field through its outside backs, particularly junior Shannon Hendricks and senior Monica Flores. Both Hendricks and junior Rachel Heard brought the ball into the box, pushing play forward early.
With fewer than two minutes remaining in the half, freshman Sammi Fisher broke away from a defender and took two dribbles toward the goal. Fisher’s first shot went off the left post, but she rebounded and scored (43:47) to put Notre Dame up 2-0.
The Irish offense rattled off 10 shots in the first half, while Florida State recorded just three. Notre Dame entered halftime with a 2-0 lead.
The Seminoles took the first four shots in the second half and capitalized on their opportunities. Florida State cut Notre Dame’s lead in half two minutes into the half, when Deyna Castellanos scored at the 46:25 mark. Just nine minutes later, Olivia Bergau evened the score at 2-2 (35:26).
Still without a shot in the second half, Notre Dame’s defense continued battling. The Irish were issued a yellow card at the 59:54 mark, which led to a penalty kick and a third Florida State goal in the half.
With 82:01 on the clock, it was Westendorf again. The forward drew a foul just outside of the box and scored her eighth goal of the season to tie the game at 3-3.
“Everyone was going forward to try to get opportunities on goal,” Westendorf said. “Obviously, a free kick is very ideal, but we were just trying to get crosses and get anything we could at that point.”
Notre Dame never backed down. Fisher, who was issued the yellow card that led to the Seminoles penalty kick, played hero for the Irish. Fisher scored a game-winning goal on a pass from Sabrina Flores in the 88th minute (87:35). The goal, which was the midfielder’s first game-winner, secured Notre Dame’s eighth win of the season in 4-3 fashion.
“It was so exciting,” Fisher said. “I felt like I needed to [score] since I gave up the penalty kick. I knew how much the team needed that goal and how much we needed it for our season. It was awesome.”
Westendorf said she thinks the team learned it can overcome any deficit.
“We were up 2-0, so it’s not the best situation that we let it slip away and went down 3-2,” Westendorf said. “Being able to come back from that is something we haven’t been able to do this season. It’s a good turning point for our team. We can use this in the future to help us. If we’re down at any point, we know that we can come back from it.”
Note of the Match
Jennifer Westendorf’s two goals in the game bring the forward to a career-high eight goals in 2017. Westendorf previously owned a single-season career high of six goals in 2016.
Coach Romagnolo Said…
On the 2-0 halftime lead…
“I felt good. I was actually disappointed it wasn’t 3-0. It hit the crossbar, and then we had another chance at the keeper. We had four great chances. We kept the ball really well. In the second half, they tried to push the ball forward and be more direct, and they’re fast and they’re physical, and that game became more difficult for us.”
On the team’s mindset down the stretch…
“At that point, they were upset they allowed two goals. Credit to Jen for her free kicks; they were phenomenal. Our freshman, Sammi Fisher, stepped up big to make huge plays and get the final goal for us. They didn’t give up. They never gave up. They kept fighting and believing. Credit them for fighting back. I thought it was an unbelievable soccer game.”
- Notre Dame has gone 4-5 all-time against Florida State and 2-2 on the road.
- The Irish are 3-0-1 in their last four road games. Notre Dame owns a 4-1-2 record away from home this season (includes one neutral-site game).
- Notre Dame has gone 3-3-1 in games against ranked opponents this season.
- The Irish totaled 16 shots to Florida State’s 12. In the first half, Notre Dame outshot the Seminoles 10-3.
- Notre Dame has scored four goals in a match six times this season.
Coming Up Next
The Irish return to action at Miami at noon ET on Sunday in one of two remaining regular-season games. The match will be streamed live by ACC Network Extra/WatchESPN.
Megan Golden, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since August of 2016. In her role, she coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women’s soccer and cross country/track and field programs. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Golden is a 2014 graduate of Saint Mary’s College and former Irish women’s basketball manager. Prior to arriving at Notre Dame, she worked in public relations with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox.