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Irish Open Season with 1-0 Win Over Saint Louis

Box Score (PDF)

NOTRE DAME, Indiana — The University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team (1-0) kicked off the 2019 season with a thrilling 1-0 win over Saint Louis (0-1) Thursday night at Alumni Stadium.

“Overall, very happy to get the first win in the season opener,” said head coach Nate Norman. “Saint Louis is a really good team and they made it really difficult for us. I loved the goal because it was an extra effort goal. Saint Louis played it back and Kiki chased through to the ball and got by the keeper that set up the eventual goal.” 

After a defensive battle for most of the match, the Irish scored in the 77th minute on a penalty kick by Sammi Fisher. It all got set up by Kiki Van Zanten after she brought the pressure after the Billikens played a back pass to the keeper. She made a play on the ball and got around Niehaus and had a wide open net in front of her. Niehaus reached out to pull her down to force the penalty and a red card. Fisher calmly took the penalty low and to the left side for the goal.

“It was a little nerve wracking because it took so long from the red card until the actually penalty kick,” said Fisher. “I took a deep breath and saw the goalie move one way and I was able to slot it the other way. The play was all set up by Kiki , she forced the penalty and I was happy to finish it off.”

The Irish defense was strong all game and limited the Billikens to just four shots on goal. Saint Louis had a strong push in the final 10 minutes but the Irish withstood the pressure and held on for the shutout win. 

How it Happened

The first half of the match was a defensive battle as possession stayed in the middle third of the field. The Irish commanded the ball well and had the better of the chances, with the first coming in the 10th minute. 

Fisher brought the ball into the attacking third and played it through and into the box for Eva Hurm. Hurm took a few dribbles and fired a ball towards the goal but a Saint Louis defender was able to block it away.

Another opportunity for the Irish came about in the 19th minute. Brianna Martinez streaked into the box and Niehaus came out and snatched the ball right before Martinez could get her foot on it for a shot.

In the second half, Notre Dame had two prime chances in the opening minutes. Fisher was on the attack once again and she beat a few defenders before putting a shot on net. It beat Niehaus to her left but bounced off the far post and Hurm got to the rebound but sent it wide. 

A few minutes later, Fisher deked a Saint Louis defender and continued her run towards the top of the box. She sent a pass towards Brooke VanDyck in the box and she turned and fired a shot on net but Niehaus was there for the save.

The Irish did not let up in the offensive third and it paid off in the 76th minute. Van Zanten pressured the Billikens back pass and had a wide open net but Niehaus pulled her down to force the penalty kick. With a new keeper in the game, Fisher drilled the PK to give the Irish the advantage after nearly 80 minutes of play.

A flurry of shots came from the Billikens in the final 10 minutes but Brooke Littman and the Irish defense was up to the task. She made a couple of saves down the stretch to clinch the shutout and the win for the Irish.

Coming Up Next

The Irish finish off their quick two-game homestand on Sunday when Northwestern comes to town. The Irish and Wildcats will square off at Alumni Stadium with first touch set for 4 p.m. ET and the game will be broadcast on the ACC Network Extra through WatchESPN.

For behind-the-scenes coverage of the Irish women’s soccer program, follow @NDSoccer on Twitter and @NDWSoccer on Instagram. For tickets to a Notre Dame women’s soccer match, click here.