November 8, 1998
STORRS, Conn. — Notre Dame sophomore midfielder Anne Makinen’s goal at 80:39 was the only score as the fifth-ranked Irish women’s soccer team blanked third-ranked and host Connecticut to win its fourth consecutive BIG EAST championship in front of 2,333 fans at Joseph J. Morrone Stadium in Storrs, Conn. With the win, Notre Dame earns the conference’s automatic bid into the 48-team NCAA women’s soccer championship, their sixth consecutive appearance in the NCAA championship. Makinen was named the championship’s most outstanding player for the second consecutive year. The Irish improve to 19-2-1 with the win, while Connecticut suffers its first loss of the season at 19-1-2.
Makinen’s goal came off a corner kick from Irish junior defender Jen Grubb which sailed over the goal and was deflected by Connecticut to another Husky player, defender Laura Molinaro. Molinaro attempted to clear the ball but it went off the side of her foot to Makinen from five yards out at the left post. Makinen then blasted a shot into the right corner of the net for her 15th goal of the season.
The 1-0 win gave Notre Dame its fourth consecutive BIG EAST women’s soccer championship since joining the conference in 1995 with a 9-0-0 record all-time in the BIG EAST championship. The Irish have beaten the Huskies in each championship final, winning 1-0 at Seton Hall in 1995, 4-3 at Notre Dame in 1996, 6-1 at Rutgers in 1997 and 1-0 at Connecticut on Sunday. The Irish have won each conference tournament they have played, dating back to the 1993 Midwestern Collegiate Conference title. Connecticut has yet to win the BIG EAST women’s soccer championship.
Notre Dame outshot Connecticut 19-16 in the game, including 12-8 in the second half. The Irish had nine corner kicks to the Huskies’ four. Irish goalkeeper LaKeysia Beene, who was named BIG EAST goalkeeper of the year at the championship banquet, recorded her ninth solo shutout of the season with seven saves. The shutout was Notre Dame’s 15 of the year in 22 games, and Connecticut’s first home shutout loss since a 1-0 loss to Santa Clara in the quarterfinals of the 1996 NCAA championship.
The teams played evenly in the first half with Connecticut managing eight shots to Notre Dame’s seven. Beene made three saves in the first half, while Connecticut goalkeeper Anne-Elisabeth Eskerud had four saves. The second half saw the Irish control the ball and control the game more, but Notre Dame did not manage a goal until the 81st minute, the longest Notre Dame has gone without scoring in a regulation game this year.
Notre Dame now leads the all-time series with Connecticut 7-2-1, with four of the wins coming in BIG EAST championship games. The teams played to a 1-1 tie in their first meeting on Oct. 16, at Connecticut. Sunday’s win marked the second time the Irish entered the BIG EAST championship as the No. 2 seed and beat the top-seeded Huskies in the final.
Notre Dame, expecting a first-round bye given to the top 16 teams in the NCAA field, will learn its potential second-round opponent when the NCAA field is announced at 9:30 p.m. EST on Sunday night. The Irish expect to play host to a second-round game at Alumni Field on Fri., Nov. 15, at 7:30 p.m.