Versatile rookie Cari Roccaro became the fifth Notre Dame player to be chosen as the <i>Soccer America</i> Freshman of the Year, the magazine announced Monday.

Irish Crack Tough Oakland Defense For 3-0 Win

Sept. 23, 2012

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NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Freshman forward Cari Roccaro (East Islip, N.Y./East Islip) collected a goal and an assist, helping Notre Dame to its fourth consecutive victory, a 3-0 non-conference win over defending Summit League Tournament champion Oakland on a cool and windy Sunday afternoon at Alumni Stadium.

Freshman forward Crystal Thomas (Elgin, Ill./Wheaton Academy) scored her team-high fifth goal of the season in the 69th minute, off assists from Roccaro and sophomore forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita) before Roccaro herself added an insurance goal, her third score in as many matches, by converting a pass from junior midfielder/tri-captain Mandy Laddish (Lee’s Summit, Mo./Lee’s Summit) with just under 10 minutes remaining. Freshman forward Anna Maria Gilbertson (Davis, Calif./Davis) capped the scoring for Notre Dame, potting her second goal of the year off an assist by sophomore midfielder Karin Simonian (Westbury, N.Y./W.T. Clarke) in the 83rd minute.

The Fighting Irish (7-3-1) held an overwhelming statistical advantage on offense, posting a 23-2 margin in total shots — in fact, Oakland (3-3-3) didn’t register its first shot of the day until less than 17 minutes remained in the match, and both of the Golden Grizzlies’ shots were taken from outside the penalty area and well off the mark. Notre Dame also had a 12-0 edge in shots on goal and a 6-2 spread on corner kicks.

Sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Voigt (Middleburg, Fla./St. John’s Country Day School) did not have to make a save on the way to earning her first career solo shutout and helping the Fighting Irish to their fourth clean sheet of the year. Oakland netminder Shannon Coley did all she could to keep the visitors in the match, recording nine stops.

“This was a good weekend for us again,” Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. “Last weekend, I thought we put together a good Sunday game together (against Cincinnati). Today was a little bit of a slow start, but overall, I’m pretty pleased with the performance for a Sunday game. It’s so difficult to play Friday and then turn around and play Sunday, but I thought the kids did well with it and were pretty well-organized.

“It was nice to see us hold them to nothing late,” Waldrum continued. “We’ve had difficulty finishing out the game in terms of not giving up late goals, and we did that (today), so I was pleased about that, as well.”

Facing a stout Oakland defense that had two draws and a one-goal loss in three matches against Big Ten Conference foes earlier this year, Notre Dame patiently went about applying consistent offensive pressure on the Golden Grizzlies throughout the afternoon. The Fighting Irish had a strong chance to move on top in the 17th minute, as senior defender Jazmin Hall (Highland Village, Texas/Marcus) made an angled run from her left back position into the attacking third before poking a through-ball to Thomas sprinting down the left side of the area. With Coley coming off her line, Thomas drove a rising left-footed shot that Coley did well to deflect skyward. The ball spun towards the now-vacated six-yard box, but before Roccaro could head in the rebound, it was cleared over the bar by Oakland defender Kristen Steffes.

Four minutes later, Hall nearly caught Coley and the Golden Grizzlies’ defense napping, finding space on the left flank with an overlapping run before angling towards the left side of the area. She then curled a shot that clipped the crossbar and caromed back into the goal mouth, but the Fighting Irish weren’t able to slot home the rebound.

In the 22nd minute, Roccaro was back on the offensive, charging down the right side before serving a cross into the heart of the box. Oakland tried to clear it from danger, but the ball deflected to the right of the penalty spot, where Bohaboy teed up a shot that sailed over the bar.

The Golden Grizzlies largely saw their offense generated from set pieces and capitalizing on the occasional Notre Dame turnover in the defensive third. Oakland’s best chances of the day came in the final five minutes, when Meghan Reynolds nearly intercepted a Fighting Irish clearance, and then later when OU earned a free kick in the left channel, 30 yards from goal, but the Notre Dame defense held fast and didn’t allow a shot in either case.

The Fighting Irish continued to push forward in search of the day’s first goal, spending large portions of the second half in the Oakland end of the pitch. Laddish, Thomas and Roccaro all came through with creative looks on frame in the first 15 minutes of the period, but none would be the solution to the scoreless deadlock.

Thomas finally put Notre Dame in front just past the midpoint of the second half. Roccaro started the sequence by racing down the right edge of the box to corral a lead pass from Simonian. Roccaro then turned to face goal, knifed through a pair of late-arriving Oakland defenders and slid a teasing pass towards the penalty spot. Bohaboy quickly fired a one-touch shot that Coley knocked down, but the ball spilled to the left of the six-yard box and Thomas alertly poked the rebound into the empty net (68:44).

During the next 10 minutes, the Golden Grizzlies registered both of their shots, as Abigail Haelewyn twice tried to test Voigt from the top of the box, but each time, her shot twisted well off-target.

Meanwhile, the Fighting Irish simply kept turning the screws even tighter and wound up doubling their lead, thanks to a combination play from their two FIFA U-20 World Cup champions. Laddish collected the ball near the top of the attacking third and served a pass down the right channel for Roccaro, and in a near-replay of the first goal, Roccaro split a pair of defenders. This time, she held on to the ball, driving towards the top right of the six-yard box before hammering a low shot just inside the far left post (80:46).

Gilbertson then put the cherry on the sundae, less than 30 seconds after coming back into the match. Following a Notre Dame corner kick, the ball was temporarily cleared but Simonian regained possession for the Fighting Irish and quickly chipped the Oakland backline. Gilbertson timed her run perfectly, gathering the ball almost in stride on the right side of the box and going “short-side” on Coley by lashing a low shot inside the right post (82:50).

Notre Dame heads back on the road and returns to BIG EAST Conference play next weekend, beginning at 3 p.m. (ET) Friday, Sept. 28, when it takes on Providence at Glay Field in Providence, R.I. The Fighting Irish then head to Storrs, Conn., for a noon (ET) conference match on Sept. 30 against Connecticut at Morrone Stadium, the site of this year’s BIG EAST Championship.

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— ND —

POST-MATCH NOTES: Notre Dame’s four-match winning streak is its longest since the six-match run to the 2010 NCAA national championship (the program’s third title), and the longest regular-season winning streak for the Fighting Irish since a nine-match spree from Sept. 12-Oct. 10, 2010 … Notre Dame held its opponent without a shot on goal for the first time since Nov. 1, 2009, when it outshot South Florida, 11-0 in a BIG EAST Championship quarterfinal match at Alumni Stadium (won by the Fighting Irish, 5-0) … less than a month earlier on Oct. 11, 2009, Notre Dame had its most recent regular-season match without allowing a shot on goal, a 10-0 margin in that colum during a 2-0 victory over Seton Hall, also at Alumni Stadium … Oakland’s two total shots are the fewest by a Fighting Irish opponent since Oct. 2, 2011, when Notre Dame also held Providence to two shots in a 3-0 victory at Alumni Stadium … Coley’s nine saves were an opponent individual season high, one more than Cincinnati’s Kristina Utley had on Sept. 16 in a 7-0 Notre Dame win at Alumni Stadium … Roccaro collected her first career multi-point match, and has three goals and an assist in her last three outings (she has played in four matches since returning with Laddish from duty with the victorious U.S. Under-20 National Team at the U-20 World Cup in Japan) …Roccaro is the first Notre Dame player to score goals in three consecutive matches since Melissa Henderson had a four-match goal scoring streak from Oct. 14-30, 2011 … Roccaro is the second Fighting Irish freshman in as many seasons to register goals in three consecutive matches, following Bohaboy’s three-match run from Sept. 30-Oct. 7, 2011 … freshmen have accounted for six of the past seven Notre Dame goals, including all five in two wins this weekend … Bohaboy has a career-high four assists after notching three helpers all of last season … Gilbertson becomes the seventh different Notre Dame player with at least two goals this year (Notre Dame had five multi-goal scorers in 2011) … Thomas’ strike on Sunday was her first career match-winning goal, making her the sixth different Fighting Irish player with at least one decisive score this year (junior midfielder/tri-captain Elizabeth Tucker has two match-winning goals thus far) … Notre Dame picks up its first win of the season when tied at halftime (it had been 0-2-1 entering Sunday’s contest) … the Fighting Irish improve to 338-0-1 all-time when taking a 2-0 lead in a match, with wins in their 315 such contests (dating back to a 3-3 draw with Vanderbilt on Sept. 15, 1991, in Cincinnati, Ohio) — only two of the last 227 Notre Dame opponents to trail the Fighting Irish, 2-0, have managed to rally and tie the match, and none since Oct. 12, 2008, when Notre Dame led 2-0 at Villanova, the Wildcats drew level, but the Fighting Irish won on Rose Augustin’s golden goal 6:58 into the first overtime … the Fighting Irish rise to 306-3-1 all-time when scoring three goals in a match, including a 208-1 record since Oct. 6, 1995 (a 5-4 overtime loss to Connecticut at old Alumni Field).

Oakland 0 – 0 — 0
Notre Dame 0 – 3 — 3

ND 1. Crystal Thomas 5 (Lauren Bohaboy, Cari Roccaro) 68:44. ND 2. Roccaro 3 (Mandy Laddish) 80:46. ND 3. Anna Maria Gilbertson 2 (Karin Simonian) 82:50.

Total Shots: Oakland 2 (0-2), Notre Dame 23 (9-14)
Shots On Goal: Oakland 0 (0-0), Notre Dame 12 (5-7)
Saves: Oakland 9 (Shannon Coley 9 in 90:00), Notre Dame 0 (Sarah Voigt 0 in 90:00)
Corner Kicks: Oakland 2 (1-1), Notre Dame 6 (2-4)
Fouls: Oakland 6 (4-2), Notre Dame 9 (3-6)
Offsides: Oakland 1, Notre Dame 7
Records: Oakland 3-3-3, Notre Dame 7-3-1