Nov. 11, 2001
PISCATAWAY, N.J. – Timely execution on set plays has produced several clutch goals this season for the sixth-ranked Notre Dame women’s soccer team and the Irish added another goal to that collection in Sunday’s BIG EAST Tournament championship game, as sophomore midfielder Randi Scheller slammed home a rebound shot after a corner kick sequence for a 2-1 victory over West Virginia at Yurcak Field.
Notre Dame (16-2-1) – which has won all seven BIG EAST titles since joining the conference in 1995 – now awaits Monday’s announcement of the 64-team NCAA Tournament field and pairings. The NCAA selection show will be aired live at 3:00 EST on Fox Sports Net South, Fox Sports Net Northeast, Fox Sports Net Northwest, Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh and Empire Sports.
The Irish finished with a 10-9 shot edge (6-3 in shots on goal), including a 7-1 edge in the second half while playing with the gusting wind. WVU’s best chances came in the early going, with the Mountaineers failing to manage a shot on goal in the final 68 minutes of play.
Scheller – who also set up Amanda Guertin’s goal in the game’s fourth minute – picked a perfect time for the first game-winning goal of her Notre Dame career. Guertin proved her worth as the tournament MVP by providing the right side corner kick that produced the game winner, with 14:38 left to play.
Sophomore forward Melissa Tancredi – who was knocked from the game in the first half with a head injury – elevated from eight yards out and headed Guertin’s corner towards the goal, with senior midfielder Mia Sarkesian then redirecting the ball with her own header two yards closer to the goal. The ball clanged off the crossbar and deflected to the right side, with Scheller lunging into the play and poking a rising volley shot into the right side of the net for her fourth goal of the season and first in seven games (75:22).
“That was probably the only way Randi could have scored from that angle and with so many players around her,” said Randy Waldrum, whose first three Irish teams have combined for a 60-7-3 record.
“This was a very hard-fought game and the wind really played a factor. They had trouble kicking the ball from their defenders to their forwards and we gained control of the midfield for most of the game. (Junior midfielder) Ashley Dryer again was an unsung hero for us by playing a strong game against the other team’s top playmaker (Lisa Stoia) for the second straight game. We showed a lot of character today and look forward to making another run in the NCAAs.”
West Virginia (15-4-1) had tied the game in the 16th minute, ending Notre Dame’s BIG EAST Tournament shutout streak at five games. A thru-ball from two-time BIG EAST offensive player of the year Katie Barnes sprung Chrissy Abbott for the equalizer, with Abbott eluding the Irish defenders and beating Liz Wagner for her 15th goal of the season (15:41).
Scheller-who also initiated the scoring sequences on ND’s first two goals in Friday’s 3-0 semifinal win over Boston College-set up Sunday’s first goal, with a well-timed lead pass from the center of the field. Scheller’s pass split a pair of WVU defenders, with Guertin running onto the ball at the right side of the box and sending a low 10-yard shot into the right side of the net for her 12th goal of the season (3:33).
Guertin pushed her goal scoring streak to eight games, matching Jenny Heft’s eight-game spurt late in the 1999 season. Amy Van Laecke (1995) and Meotis Erikson (1997) share the Irish record for consecutive games with a goal (9).
Notre Dame’s seventh consecutive title ranks as the fifth-longest streak by a BIG EAST team in any sport and is tied for the second-longest in a team-oriented sport, behind the Connecticut women’s basketball team (9, 1994-2001) while the Pittsburgh volleyball team won seven straight from 1988-94.
NOTES: ND is 21-0-0 all-time in conference tournament games, including 17-0-0 in the BIG EAST Tournament … WVU’s goal was just the fifth 1st-half score allowed by ND this season (and first in the last eight games) … ND is 18-2-1 during the past two seasons in games vs. ranked teams and/or in the postseason … Guertin has points in 13 of the last 15 games while scoring seven of ND’s last 12 goals … ND now leads the West Virginia series 8-0-0, with a 35-4 scoring edge (the last three games have been 2-1) … ND improved to 15-2-1 in its last 18 postseason games (44-11 scoring edge) and 20-3-1 in the last 24 (61-15) … the Irish also are 36-2-1 in their last 39 games vs. BIG EAST teams and own a 67-8 all-time scoring edge in 18 BIG EAST Tournament games (with 13 shutouts) … the Irish senior class has helped ND compile a record of 81-10-4 during the past four seasons.
WEST VIRGINIA (15-4-1) 1 0 - 1#6 NOTRE DAME (16-2-1) 1 1 - 2
ND 1. Amanda Guertin 12 (Randi Scheller) 2:33, WVU 1. Chrissy Abbott 15(Katie Barnes), ND 2. Randi Scheller 4 (Mia Sarkesian, Melissa Tancredi)75:22.
Shots: WVU 9, ND 10.Corner Kicks: WVU 1, ND 5.Saves: WVU (Melissa Haire) 4, ND (Liz Wagner) 2.Fouls: WVU 7, ND 1.Offsides: WVU 0, ND 5.