April 22, 2016
by Tony Jones
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A capacity crowd of 3,500 fans packed Alumni Stadium on Friday to witness the continuation of the University of Notre Dame soccer series with the Mexico National Teams. The Irish women’s soccer team emerged with a 4-1 win over the Mexico Under-20 team to open the evening doubleheader, while the Notre Dame men’s soccer team battled until the end in a narrow 2-1 defeat against the Mexico men’s U-20 squad.
Ginny McGowan was the leading Notre Dame scorer in the opening game by notching two goals for the Irish, while Jennifer Westendorf added a goal and two assists in her first Notre Dame-Mexico game. During the men’s contest, striker Jon Gallagher scored the go-ahead Notre Dame goal in the 12th minute on a nifty through ball from Blake Townes.
Notre Dame Women vs. Mexico U-20 National Team
Notre Dame wasted no time in finding the back of the net in the third minute, as Kaleigh Olmsted worked possession up the right flank before sending a cross in front to a cutting Kaitlin Klawunder at the far post. Klawunder connected on a brilliant header past Mexico goalkeeper Emily Alvarado to put the Irish in front 1-0 at 2:32.
Mexico answered back with the equalizer in the 11th minute. Nancy Antonio dug deep into the Notre Dame 18-yard box and drew a penalty kick on a Taylor Klawunder hard slide tackle at the top of the 18. Antonio buried the shot from the spot to tie the contest at 1-1 at 10:25.
Jennifer Westendorf looked to get free to put the Irish back in front in the 13th and 14th minutes. A shot wide and a try corralled by the Mexican keeper Alvarado kept Notre Dame at bay.
Kaitlin Klawunder kept up the pressure in the 21st minute, settling the ball at the left post and firing the attempt just wide of the right post. Klawunder found another header off a Westendorf cross in the 32nd minute, narrowly missing her second goal of the night.
Antonio wiggled free straight on from the Notre Dame goal in the 26th minute, but her right-footed blast from over 30 yards sailed high and wide of the Irish net.
Notre Dame erupted on offense coming out of the halftime break with the score still tied 1-1. Ginny McGowan found the first Irish goal of the second stanza in the 46th minute. Westendorf blasted a free kick from 30 yards out that Sandra Yu clipped on frame, where McGowan finished at the left post for the 2-1 Notre Dame lead.
Westendorf found a goal of her own less than two minutes later, dancing through traffic on a stolen clearance and drilling a right-footed smash into the Mexico net for the 3-1 Irish advantage at 47:16.
Mexico’s Gabriela Alvarez tried to find offense for her side in the 60th minute, as an initial shot was blocked in front of the Notre Dame net and a secondary chance later in the sequence drifted wide of the frame.
McGowan added her second goal of the game in the 62nd minute following a perfect corner service via Westendorf. McGowan met the service with a strong header into the right corner of the goal to close the Irish scoring at 4-1.
Notre Dame Men vs. Mexico U-20 National Team
Mexico looked to push the tempo in the ninth minute after both teams jockeyed for position. Fernando Gonzalez had a shot blocked by the Notre Dame defense and a follow-up try from Pablo Lopez sailed wide.
Notre Dame capitalized on it first true chance of the evening in Mexico territory in the 12th minute. Blake Townes weaved through the middle of the Mexico defensive third before threading a perfect through ball to Jon Gallagher. Gallagher slipped a rolling shot underneath goalkeeper Abraham Romero just inside the 18-yard box for the 1-0 Notre Dame lead at 11:20.
Lopez shook free for another try on net in the 19th minute, but Notre Dame goalkeeper Chris Hubbard was up to the task and made the save. Gallagher went in search of his second goal of the game in the 20th minute, but this time Romero stood tall and made a crucial stop.
Carlos Antuna managed one final shot on frame for Mexico in the 31st minute, but Hubbard turned the try away. Tommy McCabe (32nd minute) and Brandon Aubrey (42nd minute) each saw tries sail wide of goal to send Notre Dame to the locker room with a 1-0 lead at the half.
Mexico was the aggressor over the first 20 minutes of the second half, and the persistence finally paid off. Antuna angled a free kick from the right corner of the Notre Dame 18-yard box to a cutting Edson Alvarez, who finished a header at the left post to tie the match at 1-1 at 63:03.
Notre Dame nearly retook the lead after Evan Panken launched a perfect corner kick from the far flag out front to Patrick Berneski shaded toward the left post in the 67th minute. Berneski connected on a great directional header, but Romero made a sprawling save to his right to thwart the Irish goal.
Mexico ultimately found the game-winner in the 78th minute off the foot of Pedro Goulart. Hector Mascorro made a strong run down the end line to the left of the Notre Dame goal and sent an artful pop pass to Goulart, who finished from six yards out to vault Mexico in front 2-1.
Both teams battled to the final whistle of the classic encounter, with Gallagher having one last chance to earn Notre Dame a draw during stoppage time once the full 90 minutes had been played. A loose ball found its way to the Irish striker squared up to the goal, but Gallagher’s blast on frame was punched aside by Romero to clinch the Mexican triumph.
Tony Jones, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2012 and coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame softball and men’s soccer programs. A native of Jamestown, New York, Jones is a 2011 graduate of St. Bonaventure University, and prior to arriving at Notre Dame held positions at the University of Louisiana at Monroe and with the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills.