Nov. 27, 2009
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Second seeded Notre Dame scored two goals in a 51 second span to topple top-seeded Florida State, 2-0, in front of a capacity crowd Friday afternoon at the Seminole Soccer Complex. With the win, the Irish advance to the College Cup for the fourth consecutive year and the fifth time in the past six seasons. It also marks the 11th time in program history that the Irish will play in the NCAA Championship final four.
Sophomore forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) took advantage of a loose ball in the box to give the Irish a 1-0 lead at 38:35. Less than a minute later, Haley Ford (Midland, Texas, Midland) rose above the pack to head home a Rose Augustin (Silver Lake, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) corner kick, providing the final 2-0 victory margin. Nikki Weiss turned in an impressive performance in the Irish net that included five saves for her seventh solo shutout of the season.
“We’re so excited about winning and getting a chance to go to College Station,” head coach Randy Waldrum said. “I think when you look around the country the eight teams to get this far are about what we all expected so we had beat a really good team today. Hats off to Mark [Krikorian] and his team, they had a really great year. I was really proud of the job our girls did here today, especially on the road. It was a really great win.”
With the win, Notre Dame advances to 2009 NCAA College Cup in College Station, Texas and a rematch with North Carolina, which will take place on Friday, Dec. 4 at the Aggie Soccer Complex at Texas A&M (time TBA). The win marked the 19th straight for the Irish, while it ended the Seminoles’ 18 match home winning streak (dating back to last season) and it also marked FSU’s first ever postseason home game loss (18-1-0).
The Irish (21-3-1) and the Seminoles (19-5-1) finished even in shots, as each team took 14. Notre Dame put three shots on net and Seminole goalkeeper Erin McNulty made one save, while Florida State had five shots on frame, all of which were turned aside by Weiss. Both teams also took five corner kicks.
The Irish, who improved to 3-1-0 versus FSU all-time, withstood some early pressure by the Seminoles, who saw chances from Tiffany McNulty, who forced Weiss into her first save at 7:22, and Jessica Price, who directed a header just wide from eight-yards out at 9:42.
“I thought Nikki was great today, she handled everything … it takes so much pressure off of your backs when you have a goalkeeper come out and grab those crosses and she did a lot of that early to really keep us in the game at a critical time,” added Waldrum.
In the 20th minute, Notre Dame earned its best scoring chance of the early going when Taylor Knaack (Arlington, Texas/Martin) slid a ball ahead to Henderson, who got a shot off from inside the box only to see it blocked by the Seminole defense. Then, Weissenhofer sent a low cross across the goal mouth that a diving Henderson and a diving Lauren Fowlkes (Lee’s Summit, Mo./St. Teresa’s Acad.) could not quite reach.
The Irish then took a 1-0 lead when Erica Iantorno (Hillsdale, Ill./Hillsdale) chipped a dangerous ball into the top of the Seminole box – less than three minutes after substituting into the game. FSU’s defenders had trouble dealing with the threat, and Henderson picked up the loose ball and deposited it into the lower left of McNulty’s net for her 18th goal of the season at 38:35.
Just 51 seconds later, Augustin sent a corner kick to the far post where Ford met it for her second goal of the NCAA Championship and third of the season at 39:26.
“After we scored the first goal, we knew we had to play strong the next five minutes because the next five minutes are always critical,” analyzed Ford. “Rose [Augustin] put a perfect ball across the goal at the six [yard box] and I just went up for it.”
In the second half, the Irish defense limited Florida State to two shots on goal as Notre Dame held on for its 15th shutout of the season.
Two of Notre Dame’s best scoring chances of the second half came off the feet of Weissenhofer. In the 55th minute, Julie Scheidler (Indianapolis, Ind./Bishop Chatard) sent a ball into the box that Weissenhofer deflected just wide of the Seminole net. Then, in the 57th minute, Henderson made a run through several defenders on the near side and played a ball to Weissenhofer, who fired just high of the net.
“We’re so excited, it’s our fourth year in a row and we are hoping to come back with the title this year,” concluded Ford.
The Irish will face North Carolina on Friday, Dec. 4 in one of two national semifinal games. North Carolina earned a 5-2 win over Wake Forest to advance to the 2009 College Cup. Visit UND.com in the coming days to learn more about Notre Dame’s upcoming trip to College Station, Texas, including updated game times and the finalized College Cup field. Both semifinal matches will be broadcast live on ESPNU, while Sunday’s championship match will be broadcast live on ESPN2.