Sept. 3, 2017
By Megan Golden
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — The University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team used a second-half surge to top Santa Clara (2-3-1) 4-1 in a bounce-back victory on Sunday at Alumni Stadium.
The Irish (3-1-2) closed play in the Notre Dame Invitational with their third win of the season and second victory at home.
Irish defender and co-captain Monica Flores made her first start of the season, giving the Irish an extra body in the back line just two days after Notre Dame’s lineup saw Sabrina Flores in the midfield. Monica Flores provided a spark for the Irish, bringing up the ball on the right side and pushing the attack up the field throughout the match.
“Overall, this was a huge step for the team moving forward,” Monica Flores said. “This weekend brought some true tests; we played top-25 opponents.
“Friday, we were knocking on the door and had a pretty okay performance and definitely improved and grew, but we still had some good learning points, and we didn’t finish.
“Today, we faced another great opponent and to get the result we did was incredible. That’s the way it should be, and we shouldn’t settle for less.”
Notre Dame’s offense had nine shots to Santa Clara’s zero within the first 20 minutes of the match. The Irish, particularly sophomore Jennifer Westendorf, graduate student Sandra Yu, and freshmen Eva Hurm and Sammi Fisher, were making cuts in and out of the box, overwhelming the Broncos defense early.
The Irish were called offsides twice in the first half, evidence of their strong attack on Santa Clara in the first 45 minutes.
Santa Clara had back-to-back corner kicks at roughly the 26-minute mark, but junior Rachel Heard and the Irish defense limited the Broncos opportunities in the first period. Santa Clara concluded the second half with four shots.
The Broncos began the second half with a different energy, and Notre Dame struggled to find its rhythm after halftime. Just six minutes into the second half, Santa Clara drew the foul in the box and scored on a penalty kick, taking a 1-0 lead over the Irish.
The Broncos goal appeared to light a spark for the Irish, which regained possession of the ball and immediately went on the attack. Westendorf wasted little time responding, taking the ball from the foot of Hurm and striking her second shot of the match into the top right corner of the net, evening the score at 1-1.
Notre Dame continued to find holes in the Broncos defense, regaining its first-half ball control and splitting the gaps in Santa Clara’s back line.
“I think we just stayed our route and continued to persevere no matter what,” Monica Flores said. “We were playing well and focusing on the small details from minute one. Pressure on the ball was good, organization was better, and our forwards gave their defense a run for their money.
“We went down a goal in the second half, but you could feel that everyone knew the game was far from over. We continued to put our heads down, focus on the details, focus on what made us successful, and then finally, the final execution piece came into play. It was theirs all game, but we capitalized finally and did it with style.”
In the 68th minute, Hurm again found a hole in the back line and sent a through ball to senior Meghan Doyle, who broke away and placed her first goal of the season in the left side of the net. Hurm’s assist was the second of the day and fourth of the season.
The shift in momentum proved beneficial for Notre Dame and Doyle, who came right back in the 84th minute with her second goal of the match on a beautiful ball from Sandra Yu. The assist was the third of the season for Yu.
With just 18 seconds remaining in the match, sophomore Natalie Jacobs scampered through the midfield and fired from about 25 yards out, securing Notre Dame’s 4-1 victory over the Broncos.
Note of the Match
Notre Dame outshot the Broncos 24-11, including taking 14 shots to Santa Clara’s four in the first half. The Irish totaled 10 shots on goal, compared to the Broncos four.
- Notre Dame moves to 14-6-2 all-time against the Broncos, including a 10-1 record at home.
- The Irish have limited their opponents to a total of three goals this season.
- Senior co-captain Monica Flores made her first start and third appearance of the season.
- Littman’s three saves brings her to a total of 22 saves on the season.
Coming Up NextNotre Dame returns to action at Ohio State at 7 p.m. ET on Friday at Jesse Owens Stadium (Columbus, Ohio).
Megan Golden, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since August of 2016. In her role, she coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women’s soccer and cross country/track and field programs. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Golden is a 2014 graduate of Saint Mary’s College and former Irish women’s basketball manager. Prior to arriving at Notre Dame, she worked in public relations with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox.