Oct. 25, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – On a night dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments of Notre Dame’s senior class, it was the Fighting Irish juniors who delivered the best present of all, as forwards Taylor Knaack (Arlington, Texas/Martin) and Lauren Fowlkes (Lee’s Summit, Mo./St. Teresa’s Academy) scored in the first 15 minutes of each half to help No. 6/7 Notre Dame power past No. 22 (Soccer America) Georgetown, 2-0 in the BIG EAST Conference regular season finale for both teams on Sunday night at Alumni Stadium before a crowd of 1,789 fans and a national cable television audience.
Fox Soccer Channel will broadcast the game on a tape-delayed basis, with the contest scheduled to air Tuesday at 8 p.m. (ET) on FSC (DirecTV Channel 619 and Dish Network Channel 149).
With the victory, Notre Dame extends its winning streak to a season-high six games, while also lengthening its current unbeaten streak to 12 games (11-0-1) and its NCAA Division I-record unbeaten string vs. conference opponents to 63 games (60-0-3). What’s more, the Fighting Irish put the cap on their seventh consecutive BIG EAST regular season divisional title and 12th overall, dating back to the program’s move into the BIG EAST in 1995.
Juniors Julie Scheidler (Indianapolis, Ind./Bishop Chatard) and Rose Augustin (Silver Lake, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) each carded their second assist of the weekend with helpers on Sunday night’s goals. Not to be outdone, senior midfielder Amanda Clark (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) represented the departing veterans in the points column, earning the primary assist on Knaack’s game-winner early in the first half.
Yet another junior sparked the Fighting Irish defense, as goalkeeper Nikki Weiss (Redding, Conn./Immaculate) started and did not record a save during the opening 45 minutes while earning the victory in the nets. Senior Kelsey Lysander (San Diego, Calif./Rancho Bernardo) came on to begin the second half and make one save to help preserve Notre Dame’s 12th shutout of the season and sixth in the past seven games.
The Fighting Irish (14-3-1, 10-0-1 BIG EAST) held an 18-15 shot advantage over Georgetown, including a sizeable 7-2 edge in shots on goal. The Hoyas had the upper hand in corner kicks (4-1), while Notre Dame was tagged with 10 of the 18 fouls on the night. GU netminder Elizabeth Hanna went the distance for the visitors, collecting five saves.
“That was a really good win for us, especially in light of the emotion involved with Senior Night, and the fact that Georgetown is an awfully strong team, probably one of the best offensive clubs in the BIG EAST, if not the country,” Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. “Taylor’s goal really got us off on the right foot early, but credit Georgetown with coming back at us as well as they did. Our back four did a tremendous job of getting into the passing lanes and making it tough for their attackers to get any clean looks on goal. I’m happy we were able to send our seniors off to the postseason with a victory, and hopefully we can continue to build on this momentum next weekend.”
It took a few minutes for both teams to get going, but the Fighting Irish were the first to find their footing. Scheidler started the opening goal sequence with a solid run down the right flank before curling a cross into the box. Clark cut smartly in front of her defender at the penalty spot and flicked a header toward the back post, where Knaack found herself unmarked and was able to slot the ball past a charging Hanna into the low right corner of the net for her sixth goal of the year, all in the past eight games (10:38).
Just seconds after that first goal, Notre Dame nearly doubled its lead, as senior forward/tri-captain Michele Weissenhofer (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) unleashed an absolute bomb from 25 yards out in the right channel, with the left post proving to be the only thing stopping the shot from reaching its intended destination.
Only two minutes later, Georgetown (12-5-2, 6-4-1) crafted its first good opportunity of the night, as Sara Jordan raced down the left side and delivered a cross through the six-yard box, but Ingrid Wells came up empty on her sliding shot attempt, as the ball skipped harmlessly to the far corner and was eventually cleared from danger.
Weissenhofer had a second look at goal in the 22nd minute, breaking into the offensive third with some nifty ball work through the heart of the Hoyas’ defense. She then noticed Hanna creeping off her line and tried to chip the GU goalkeeper, but her 30-yard shot swerved just high and wide of the left post.
Perhaps the play of the game (and maybe even the season) came with 9:58 left in the first half, as sophomore forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) ran down a lead pass in the far left corner. Seemingly penned in by her defender at the end line, Henderson cut back away from her mark towards the top of the 18′, split two more defenders at the corner of the box, then dribbled by a fourth Georgetown sentry in the area before being hauled down and earning Notre Dame’s first penalty kick of the season. Yet, after all that work, Henderson came up empty on the PK attempt, sending her try skimming off the outside of the right post, leaving the margin at 1-0 heading to the locker room.
The Hoyas had a golden opportunity to tie the game just two minutes into the second half, as Jordan beat Lysander to a ball high in the slot, but before the GU forward could poke the ball into the empty net, she was tied up by the Fighting Irish defense, with sophomore defender/tri-captain Jessica Schuveiller (Plano, Texas/Plano West) ultimately clearing the ball off the line and preventing any follow-up chances.
Undeterred, Georgetown kept up the pressure, and in the 56th minute, Kelly D’Ambrisi dribbled through traffic to the top left corner of the box before firing a low right-footed shot that narrowly whistled wide of the right post.
Then, in lightning-quick fashion, Notre Dame got the all-important second goal with a brilliant counterattack. Augustin tracked down a ball on the right flank and drove to the end line before cracking a pinpoint service through the area. Fowlkes was unmarked at the edge of the six-yard box and, with Hanna out of position trying in vain to snare the cross, Fowlkes simply snapped a header into the vacant net for her seventh goal of the season (58:56).
Much like Friday’s win over Villanova, the Fighting Irish had to buckle down and weather a late-game onslaught from an opponent throwing the proverbial “kitchen sink” at them. Samantha Baker — whose long-distance throw-ins challenged Notre Dame all night long — tossed one from the left side into the area that Lysander punched back out and it was deflected to Baker near the left end line. Rather than take the corner, Baker quickly chipped a cross onto the doorstep, where Jordan was waiting, but her two-yard header sailed over the bar with 17 minutes remaining.
Baker had her own scoring try just inside the final quarter hour, running on to a through ball from Camille Trujillo in the right channel and drilling a low shot from 22 yards out that was ticketed for the far left post. However, Lysander came out a bit to cut down the angle and was able to dive to her right and make the save.
Notre Dame had one last chance to further its lead in the 78th minute, as junior forward Erica Iantorno (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale) settled a ball at the top of the 18′ and, with her back to the goal, squared off a pass to her left, where Henderson was waiting, but her 17-yard drive twisted inches wide of the left post.
By virtue of their BIG EAST National Division title, the Fighting Irish are the No. 1 seed on that side of the BIG EAST Championship bracket and thus, they will have a bye through the first round of the tournament. Notre Dame’s next game will be Sunday, Nov. 1 at 1 p.m. (ET) when it plays host to either DePaul or South Florida in a BIG EAST quarterfinal at Alumni Stadium (those teams will meet Thursday night in Tampa). Tickets for this, and all remaining Fighting Irish soccer games (including all postseason contests), are available through the Notre Dame Athletics Ticket Office (574-631-7356), by going on-line to www.UND.com/tickets, or by visiting the Alumni Stadium ticket windows on game day.
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: Sunday’s win, coupled with North Carolina’s 1-0 loss at Miami (Fla.) earlier in the day, moved the Notre Dame senior class into the top spot for most victories in the nation by a current group of seniors; the Fighting Irish seniors are 84-10-4 (.878) in their four-year careers, while the UNC seniors now are 83-9-4 (.885) (credit to CollegeSoccer360.com for that ongoing research) … Notre Dame is 16-1-0 all-time against Georgetown, including a 10-0 record at home, where it has outscored the Hoyas, 51-1 since the series began when the Fighting Irish joined the BIG EAST in 1995 … since opening the season with a 3-3-0 record, Notre Dame is unbeaten in its last 12 games (11-0-1) and also has posted a 27-4 scoring margin during its current streak, with nine shutouts (five solos by Weiss) in that run … what’s more, since falling to the nation’s current top-ranked team, Stanford (2-0) on Sept. 13, Notre Dame has led or been tied for all but a total of 16:38 in the 1100:41 of game action during its present streak (1:18 at Cincinnati on Sept. 25; 15:20 at West Virginia on Oct. 2) … the Fighting Irish are not only unbeaten in an NCAA Division I-record 63 consecutive conference matches (60-0-3), but also extend their unbeaten streak at home against BIG EAST teams to 93 matches (92-0-1) since Connecticut’s 5-4 overtime win on Oct. 6, 1995, at old Alumni Field … since joining the BIG EAST in 1995, Notre Dame is 133-8-5 (.928) all-time in regular-season conference matches, 32-2-1 (.929) in BIG EAST Championship play, and holds a 699-85 scoring edge against conference foes in that 15-season span … the Fighting Irish move to 163-4-2 (.970) all-time at home against unranked teams (according to the NSCAA poll) … other miscellaneous trends for Notre Dame: 312-0-1 all-time when taking a 2-0 lead in a game (289-0 since a 3-3 tie with Vanderbilt in Cincinnati on Sept. 15, 1991), and 394-9-16 (.959) when holding the opposition to 0-1 goals … Weiss has allowed only one goal in her last 618:08 of action, dating back to the Sept. 11 game at Santa Clara (SCU’s Jordan Angeli scored at 23:52; Weiss didn’t play in the second half of that game) … the Notre Dame defense has allowed just one goal in the past 691:50 overall, going back to the Oct. 2 overtime victory at West Virginia (WVU’s Blake Miller scored at 48:51) … as if that weren’t enough, the Fighting Irish have allowed only one goal in the past 755:11 (eight-game span) at its new home, Alumni Stadium, with the lone score coming on Oct. 16 by Connecticut’s Linda Ruutu at 66:17 … during the current eight-game home winning streak, Notre Dame has won by a combined score of 22-1 … the Fighting Irish had not been involved in a game with a penalty kick all season prior to Henderson’s attempt on Sunday night … Knaack remains red-hot of late, now having logged 11 points in her last five games (five goals, one assist), including goals in four of those outings (three of which were game-winners) … Knaack also wound up tied for both the BIG EAST goalscoring title (6, with USF’s Chelsea Klotz) and point scoring crown (15, with GU’s Sara Jordan), as determined by player stats in conference games only … in addition, Knaack shared top honors in the conference for points per game (1.36), goals per game (0.55) and game-winning goals (3) … Fowlkes earned the BIG EAST title for shots (48) and shots per game (4.36), while tying for the top spot in game-winning goals … despite moving into the starting lineup five games into the BIG EAST slate, Weiss walked away with the conference statistical titles in goals-against average (a BIG EAST-record 0.15, 1 GA in 597:00), save percentage (.955) and shutouts per game (0.71) … Weiss’ 0.15 GAA in BIG EAST play broke the conference record formerly held by Notre Dame’s LaKeysia Beene (0.18 in 1997) … prior to Sunday night’s game, the Fighting Irish honored their eight seniors — Micaela Alvarez, Amanda Clark, Haley Ford, Kelsey Lysander, Courtney Rosen, Rachel VanderGenugten, Michele Weissenhofer and student manager Matt Moran … in a particularly poignant moment inside the final 10 minutes, Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum substitutued Alvarez into the contest, despite the fact Alvarez suffered a season-ending torn ACL during training earlier in the week; with her knee braced and bandaged, Alvarez dropped her crutches and hobbled onto the field in front of the scorer’s table to replace of Henderson and remained there to the cheers of her teammates and the Fighting Irish fans for the better part of a minute before Henderson re-entered in her place … both Ford and Rosen also did not play due to injury, although both players could possibly petition for a fifth year of eligibility next year (Ford appeared in only five games in 2007; Rosen has missed the entire current season) and did not wish to jeopardize that option … Notre Dame has not faced either DePaul or South Florida in postseason play since those two teams joined the BIG EAST in 2005; the Fighting Irish defeated DePaul, 4-0 back on Sept. 18 at Alumni Stadium, and did not play USF during the regular season.