Nov. 21, 2014
No. 12/11 Notre Dame (14-5-2) improved to 66-18-1 (.782) all-time in NCAA Championship matches dating back to the 1993 season. The Fighting Irish have reached the third round or later of the national championship tournament in 18 of their 22 NCAA tournament appearances.
Shots were even at 13 apiece during the match, with Notre Dame holding a second half 7-3 edge over No. RV/NR Texas (11-8-4). Corner kicks were also tied at three tries apiece for both teams.
“It showed the character of the team,” Notre Dame head coach Theresa Romagnolo said of the comeback victory. “I don’t think that we ever doubted ourselves. The first half was tough going into the wind and I think we dealt with it, and it was critical for us to get that first goal back in the first half to go into half 1-1. I thought the second half we played very well, created a lot of opportunities for ourselves that didn’t quite fall and then found one in the last five minutes.
“A testament to their character and will to win right now,” Romagnolo added. “They want to keep going and see how far we can take this, they are excited about what we can accomplish.”
After a pair of Notre Dame corner kicks went begging in the opening minutes of the match, Texas nearly put the first points of the day on the scoreboard. A blocked shot by the Fighting Irish defense off a try from Lindsey Meyer found its way to Jasmine Hart, who drilled a header right into the grasp of sophomore goalkeeper Kaela Little (Tulsa, Oklahoma/Bishop Kelley).
Notre Dame answered with a scoring chance of its own in the sixth minute. Senior forward Karin Simonian (Westbury, New York/W.T. Clarke) looked to go coast-to-coast on a dribble up the center of the field, drifting to her left at the top of the 18-yard box. A left-footed try beat Texas goalkeeper Abby Smith, but caromed off the right post and out of danger for the Longhorns.
Texas took the lead on a corner conversion at 19:16, as Sharis Lachapelle served a great ball to Meyer, who headed the ball home in the six-yard box. Meyer’s fifth goal of the year gave the Longhorns the 1-0 lead.
Senior forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, California/Santa Margarita) returned to the Notre Dame lineup for the first time in nearly one month with energy up front, attempting a total of three shots during the first half. A right-footed chance in the 25th minute by Bohaboy was saved cleanly by Smith for a key Texas stop.
The Fighting Irish countered in the 43rd minute, after Muya found space in the right pocket of the Texas defense. A great cross from Muya made its way out in front of the net to a waiting Anna Maria Gilbertson (Davis, California/Davis), and the Notre Dame junior forward drove the ball into the left netting for her fourth goal of 2014 and the equalizer at 42:39.
“Karin is a great 1V1 player, so one thing we noticed was that (Texas was) dropping off and giving us space to drive at them,” Romagnolo said. “That was something we kept encouraging the forwards to do, and that’s what Karin did. She served a great ball into the box that, credit to Anna, finding the ball and timing it to get there when the ball was delivered.”
Notre Dame controlled the tempo to begin the second half, forcing possession deep toward the Texas goal, but were unable to connect on a passes in close. The Fighting Irish began to turn the tide in the match momentum with aggressive offensive play.
“I didn’t think we played particularly well in the first half,” Romagnolo said. “I think it was difficult to deal with their style in terms of getting it on the carpet and knocking it around. I didn’t feel we created a ton of chances. In the second half I thought Taylor Klawunder did a great job for us in the center mid against some of their taller players, which was something I think we needed. Our back four was solid, and I think we had a lot of speed up front which allowed us to get in behind and create opportunities for ourselves.”
Texas attempted the first shot of the second half, with midfielder Julia Dyche getting a great look inside the Notre Dame quarter of the field that was blocked away by the Fighting Irish defense. The Longhorns were unable to manage a single shot on goal during the entire second fame.
Junior defender Brittany Von Rueden (Mequon, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels) provided Notre Dame with a great look in the 72nd minute, drawing a foul and a yellow card on Hart for a side tackle just outside the 18-yard box. Bohaboy sent a low skipping free kick underneath the wall all the way toward goal, but Smith ranged to her left to make the save.
Muya put the game away after breaking behind the Texas defense in the 86th minute. A lob over the top from the Notre Dame back line found its way to the freshman attacker to the right of the Longhorn net, where Muya beat Smith five-hole off the left post and in to seal the result at 85:05.
“I am just excited for the group,” Romagnolo said. “It’s exciting to me when I have players who come off the bench and bring such quality. It’s a testament to how deep this team is, and on any given day different players can step up and make that big play. A lot of players played great tonight.”
Notre Dame, the fourth seed in its quadrant of the NCAA bracket, advance to play No. 1 seed Texas A&M on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. (CT) at Ellis Field.
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Texas 1 0 – 1
Total Shots: UT 13 (10-3), ND 13 (6-7)
— Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant