Sept. 30, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind.
– A spectacular weekend in net, which included a shutout over one of the most prolific offenses in the country, earned University of Notre Dame women’s soccer sophomore goalkeeper Kaela Little
(Tulsa, Oklahoma/Bishop Kelley) a pair of wins during the most recent 2-0 Fighting Irish Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) road trip. Little’s stellar play was recognized on Tuesday, as the Notre Dame netminder was named the ACC Player of the Week for the first time in her career.
Little is the first Fighting Irish goalkeeper and just the third Notre Dame player overall to be tabbed as the conference’s top weekly player since the program joined the ACC in 2013.
“It is an honor to be named player of the week for the ACC,” Little said. “I’m grateful for my teammates and coaches, and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”
This past weekend was a banner conference road swing for Little in what has already been a standout sophomore campaign. The reigning Notre Dame Most Valuable Freshman shined during a primetime Thursday showdown at undefeated No. 2/3 Virginia Tech. The 5-9 Fighting Irish goalkeeper held the Hokies, who entered the match with a 38-3 aggregate goal advantage during a 10-game winning streak, scoreless during the full 90 minutes, recording five official saves.
Little’s most crucial stop came in the match’s 85th minute as dangerous Virginia Tech striker Shannon Mayrose broke loose in the six-yard box on a free kick looking to bring the Hokies within one goal. The Notre Dame goalkeeper made an outstanding play on a strike from Mayrose, heading the ball over the crossbar and out of trouble to secure a 2-0 Fighting Irish shutout.
It was more of the same for Little and Notre Dame on Sunday at Wake Forest, as she made four saves for her second straight ACC clean sheet and the third conference shutout of her young career. Wake Forest had one of its best looks at the equalizer during the 86th minute on a corner kick try from the right flag, but Little skied through traffic to snag the ball for an unofficial save and the clinching play in the 1-0 Notre Dame victory.
Through 10 starts this season, Little has a 7-2-1 record (2-1 ACC) in the Notre Dame goal, including results over four teams that were ranked or receiving votes in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/Continental Tire Top 25 poll at the time of play.
“Kaela is a fantastic goalkeeper and she has made some great saves in big games,” Notre Dame head coach Theresa Romagnolo said. “I also give credit to the defensive efforts of the team and especially the back four in front of her to limit the number of chances allowed.”
Little has emerged as one of the top goalkeepers in the ACC, posting the second-best cumulative shutout count (6) and save percentage (.829), and the fifth-best goals-against average (0.68) in the conference during Notre Dame’s toughest stretch in its league schedule. Little is also ranked second in the ACC with a 0.60 shutouts per match average.
Notre Dame rose six slots to number 10 in the most recent Soccer America
poll, while also gaining six places to move up to 14th in NSCAA coaches’ poll released Tuesday afternoon. The Fighting Irish prepare for the toughest home test of the 2014 season on Sunday, welcoming ACC foe and national top five team Virginia (10-1) to Alumni Stadium for a 1 p.m. (ET) start. The match will be streamed live on WatchND
This weekend’s ACC match will coincide with the 10th anniversary reunion of Notre Dame’s 2004 NCAA Championship team, with the 2004 national champion Fighting Irish squad also being recognized during the Notre Dame football game against Stanford on Saturday at Notre Dame Stadium.
To purchase a season pass or single-match tickets for the 2014 Notre Dame women’s soccer season, call the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office at (574) 631-7356, visit the official Notre Dame athletics ticketing web site, UND.com/tickets
or stop by the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office windows during normal business hours (9 a.m.-5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday). Tickets also can be purchased at Alumni Stadium on match days.