Nov. 17, 2017
By Megan Golden
COLLEGE STATION, Texas — The University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team battled No. 2-seeded Texas A&M to a 2-2 draw and ultimately outlasted the Aggies 4-1 in penalty kicks to advance to the NCAA Sweet 16.
The Irish (10-6-5) advance to the third round of the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2014 and the fifth time in the last seven seasons. The draw snapped the Aggies’ (18-2-2) 14-game winning streak.
“It was an incredible game. We gave the fans a great show,” Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo said. “It was back and forth. We created some great opportunities over the course of the game. I was proud of the effort we showed on both sides of the ball. We brought great quality.
“Massive win for us. I’m just really proud. To come out in OT and raise our level and keep fighting–the composure on the PKs was exceptional. It was a pretty special performance from these guys.”
Notre Dame, which has enjoyed playing on the road in 2017, moves to 2-0-3 in five road games against ranked opponents this season.
How It Happened
Notre Dame controlled the ball for the better part of the first half as its midfield hustled on both sides of the field to maintained possession. Graduate student Sandra Yu especially played with energy early, dribbling the ball down the field on the breakaway and feeding the ball through to both Jennifer Westendorf and Natalie Jacobs. The Irish outshot the Aggies 5-4 in the first 25 minutes.
Texas A&M eventually capitalized on its fourth corner kick of the game. Senior Ginny McGowan headed away the initial kick, but the Aggies swung the ball around the field and scored, taking a 1-0 lead in the 37th minute (36:26).
Notre Dame went right back down the field and continued to attack the Aggies’ goal. Irish freshman Eva Hurm–who returned from injury against IUPUI and checked into the game in the 37th minute on Friday–tallied her first career goal (42:30). Hurm scored on a ball from Sabrina Flores, who rebounded Yu’s initial shot off the crossbar. Hurm’s goal sent the Irish into halftime in a 1-1 tie.
“We were all holding our breath,” Romagnolo said. “What a time to to have her first career goal. She’s a fantastic player and is incredibly dangerous.
“What’s exciting about this group is we have so many talented players. We’ve got people who can come off the bench and contribute, and that’s something she did tonight.”
Notre Dame opened the second half battling the Aggies defensively. The Irish, which outshot the Aggies 12-6 in the first half, fought hard against Texas A&M to keep possession in the second half. Each team rattled off two shots apiece in the first 20 minutes of the period.
The Irish drew a foul in the box in the 83rd minute. Jacobs lined up for a penalty kick and scored her team-high 13th goal, sending the ball on the ground and into the left corner of the goal.
Minutes later, Texas A&M responded with a goal of its own, tying the game 2-2 in the 87th minute.
Notre Dame’s best chance in overtime came in the second overtime frame, when Jacobs took a shot from about three yards out that was blocked by a Texas A&M defender.
Jacobs was the first in line for penalty kicks, and she netted her second of the day. Texas A&M responded with a penalty kick on its first attempt, but that would be all for the Aggies. Notre Dame’s Taylor Klawunder, Westendorf and McGowan each made their respective penalty kick, and the Irish advanced 4-1.
“PKs are all confidence. We talk about that all the time,” Jacobs said. “I was not worried about everything else going on. I thought, `I’ve done this before. I can do it again. Just stay confident.'”
Irish goalkeeper Lexi Nicholas stopped Texas A&M’s final two attempts.
“In that situation, you focus and you try to read them as best you can,” Nicholas said. “I knew I needed to come up big for my team and knew they deserved a big performance like that, so I’m glad I could get two of them.”
- Lexi Nicholas recorded four saves in the game.
- Notre Dame outshot the Aggies 24-17.
- Notre Dame is 10-0-1 in games in which it has scored two or more goals.
- The Irish are 5-2-3 on the road and 5-2-4 away from home. Notre Dame has gone 4-1-3 in its last seven road games.
- The Irish own a 1-1-1 all-time record against Texas A&M.
Coming Up Next
Notre Dame advances to the third round of the NCAA Championship and will face unseeded Baylor at 7 p.m. ET on Sunday at Ellis Field (College Station). The match will be streamed on WatchESPN.
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.