Sept. 25, 2001
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Randy Waldrum’s 50th career win at Notre Dame certainly will qualify as one of his most memorable, as the fourth-ranked Irish women’s soccer team used precision execution to score in the 18th minute on a three-pass set play before limiting fourth-ranked Nebraska to just a pair of shots on goal-leading to a 1-0 victory over the visiting Huskers on Tuesday-night action at Alumni Field.
Senior midfielder Mia Sarkesian (Canton, Mich.) added to her penchant for big-game scoring, as five of her 10 career goals have held up as gamewinners . Those 10 career goals also include one that produced a 2-1 lead in 1999 vs. top-ranked North Carolina (UNC won 3-2 in OT) while her goal vs. Boston College halted ND’s only deficit of the 2000 regular season (the Irish won, 2-1).
Notre Dame (6-0-1) now leads the Nebraska series 3-0-1, including a 2-2 tie at Lincoln in the 1999 NCAA quarterfinals (the Irish advanced after 150 minutes of play and six penalty kicks).
Both teams hit the post multiple times (including Sarksesian’s penalty kick off the left post), with the Irish compiling a 13-7 edge in total shots while NU held an 8-4 corner kick advantage. The physical play yielded 39 fouls (20 for the Irish) while the Huskers were caught offsides 10 times (to ND’s five).
Sophomore midfielder Randi Scheller initiated the indirect free kick, from 10 yards outside the top of the box. Scheller quickly sent a low pass into the box and her classmate Amanda Guertin, who flicked the ball into an open space on the right side. Fellow sophomore forward Melissa Tancredi beat the Huskers to the ball and continued towards the right endline before serving a low pass to Sarkesian, who one-timed the ball into the net for her timely first goal of the season (17:30).
“‘Gerty’ had a great touch into Melissa Tancredi and she played a perfect ball to me,” said Sarkesian. “I just had to tap it in. So my teammates did all the work.”
Waldrum-whose first three Irish teams have combined for a 50-5-3 (.888) record and a 16-4-2 mark vs. top-25 teams–anticipated a strong effort from his team.
“We always seem to show up for the big games. It’s getting us to show up for the other ones that is the frustrating part,” he said.
“The preparation this week was good. Having a few of the older players who played in that game versus Nebraska two years ago really helped because they knew what they were up against. We felt like that as good as they are, the strength of their team is up front. We felt like if we could win that battle up front and bypass those players, we could win.”
Notre Dame shifted fifth-year player Monica Gonzalez into the central defender spot while returning senior Lindsey Jones to her customary right back position (freshman Candace Chapman then switched to the left).
“I thought Monica was tremendous for us tonight, particularly in the air. She won just about every ball in the air that came her way,” said Waldrum.
Nebraska head coach John Walker-whose first eight NU teams have combined for a 129-27-3 record–indicated that the game was destined to be won in quick fashion.
“On a night like this, it often will come down to something like a set play,” he said. “Notre Dame did a good job finishing on their set play and we didn’t do as good a job defending it. And we certainly hah opportunities on our set plays. But we are two good athletic teams at a competitive level.
“There was good fair play, although physical. I think both teams play the game right, with a physical edge to it, but certainly within the rules. It was a good contest.”
Nebraska nearly tied the game in the 61st minute, after a leftside corner kick from Kelly Rheem. After a quick scramble in front of the net, the ball glanced off the left post before Christine Latham sailed her rebound shot over the crossbar.
Three minutes later, Guertin was tackled in the box but Sarkesian’s PK kicked off the bottom of the left post and was smothered by ‘keeper Erin Miller (who saved nine of the 10 shots she faced).
Tancredi-who launched seven of ND’s 13 shots-then appeared to secure the 2-0 cushion in the 80th minute, after launching a shot from the right side of the box. The ball glanced off Miller, kicked off the bottom of the crossbar and re-entered play (missing the net by the narrowest of margins).
“We just broke them down totally in the back with the counterattack,” said Tancredi, who combined with Chapman as members of the victorious side while facing six other products of the improving Canadian national program.
“We’ve been practicing that because we knew they have a lot of players pushed up and we knew we had to drill it, play their game and put it in.”
For Sarkesian and the Irish, the primetime effort produced a familiar feeling. “In the past four years, we’ve always showed up for big games,” she said. “Nebraska is a huge rival and we just came out ready to play.
“Any time you play Nebraska it’s one of the toughest physical battle that we play. You’re constantly going hard up against for every tackle doing anything possible to win the ball.”
#3 NEBRASKA (5-1-0) 0 0 – 0
#4 NOTRE DAME (6-0-1) 1 0 – 1
ND 1. Mia Sarkesian 1 (Melissa Tancredi, Amanda Guertin) 17:30.
SHOTS: NEB 2-5-7, ND 7-6-13.
SAVES: NEB (Erin Miller) 9, ND (Liz Wagner) 2.
CORNER KICKS: NEB 8, ND 4.
OFFSIDES: NEB 10, ND 5.
FOULS: NEB 20, ND 19.
YELLOW CARDS: Lindsey Jones (ND), Kori Saunders (NEB), Candace Chapman (ND).
** More postgame quotes and notes **
NOTES: The Irish have allowed just one first-half goal this season (by Wisconsin, at 0:31) … former Irish F/M Jenny Streiffer-Mascaro-who opened the scoring in the 1999 classic at Nebraska-was on hand to see her alma mater post the big win … ND is 105-3-2 in its last 110 home games (32-0-1 in the last 33, including 11 wins over top-25 teams) … the Irish are 27-0-2 in their last 29 regular-season games … Irish senior G Liz Wagner has totaled 53 saves while allowing just seven goals in 15 career games vs. top-25 teams and/or in the postseason (she has totaled 11 saves while allowing just one goal this season vs. ranked teams Penn State, Hartford and Nebraska).
MORE WALDRUM: “Anytime you get a win against a quality program like Nebraska, you gotta be pleased. I thought the effort for everyone tonight was outstanding. We found some players like Tancredi who can carry things physically for us. She can add that element offensively. Amy Warner is starting to emerge vocally as a leader. (Chapman) has got that athleticism. You normally like her because she can attack from that. But tonight with those four forwards, we had to keep her back. We’ve struggled at times in midfield but I thought Mia was back to her old self and Ashley was back too. This was the best our back four have played so far. … I was most happy with that set play. We worked on that set play since the preseason. We’ve been just a hair off getting that executed. It’s a great little set piece we’ve been working on from Scheller into Amanda Guertin who flicked it on and then Tancredi around the corner and she drove reat ball to Mia. … Mia seems to score the big goals in the big games. She scores the goals that beat the Stanfords and the Boston Colleges and now Nebraska. She’s got a great ability to do that. … We seemed to make the right changes at the right time. … The thing I am most happy about aside from getting a win, was we got out of this battle without getting too many injuries and we had two or three great opportunities to score. We missed a penalty kick which is a given for us to make but we still had a few other great chances. … The last 15 minutes have been a problem for us the last four games, giving up late goals. It was nice to see that we could hold onto a lead in a tough game like this. They are just such a good team, they are so dangerous on corners and free kicks. I just couldn’t be more happy with the performance. … To win it out of our back, we felt that Tancredi or Warner or anyone we put out front, they are good enough and athletic enough to cause them problems defensively. If they were willing to mark us man-to-man, we felt like we could make some things happen. I felt we made some things happen on the counterattack.”
MORE WALKER: “There’s not much (difference) between the two teams and that’s why both are in the top five and both have a good track record. The history of the games between the teams is obviously pretty tight as well. So it was a good test for us and shows us where we stand. On our set plays, not only didn’t we finish with them but they often counterattacked on them. They did a good job off that. … The other thing they did a good job in was catching us offsides. We were a little slow. You’re willing to live with that risk but we could have been a little better with our runs and the quality of our service from the back of the midfield. … At the top, there’s not a lot of difference with all the (teams). The one thing with (North) Carolina where thy may have the edge on Notre Dame and us is being a little sharper in their finishing and a little more polished around the box. Notre Dame is very comparable to them in a lot of areas”
CANDACE CHAPMAN: “They were playing four up front, so my mentality was to stay back and help out. Everyone was pumped up and ready for this game. In Norway (with the Canadian under-21 national team), we all were talking about how we were going to bring our best at each other. And I told (the Nebraska players) we were going to come out on top.”
MORE SARKESIAN: “Before this game, we’ve had a rough season. We’ve had moments of good soccer but tonight was the first night where we came out and showed everyone how good we can be.”
|Notre Dame shut out Nebraska (1-0) while limiting the Huskers to a six shots (two of them on goal). Irish players pictured from left are: Vanessa Pruzinsky, Mia Sarkesian, Monica Gonzalez, Liz Wagner, Randi Scheller and Candace Chapman.|