May 7, 2006
Notre Dame, Ind. – The seventh-ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish closed out the 2006 regular season on Sunday afternoon at Moose Krause Stadium with a come-from-behind 12-11 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores.
The Irish trailed by two goals midway through the second half and were down by one with under two minutes left before freshman Jillian Byers (Northport, N.Y.) capped her career-best six-goal game with a pair of goals in the final 1:47 of play to give Notre Dame its second consecutive one-goal victory. Senior Crysti Foote (Suffern, N.Y.) added four goals and three assists for seven points in the contest and Heather Ferguson (So., Newtown Square, Pa.) scored twice for the Irish.
Vanderbilt’s Margie Curran matched Byers with a six-goal game of her own for the Commodores while Kendall Thrift added two with Kate Hickman, Jennifer Tapscott and Nicole Pugno adding single goals.
The win improves Notre Dame to 13-3 overall, giving the Irish their best regular-season record in the program’s 10-year history. Vanderbilt fell to 6-10 with the loss. Notre Dame figures to host a first-round NCAA tournament game on Sunday, May 14. The NCAA will announce its 16-team tournament field on Monday, May 8 at 8:00 p.m. on College Sports Television (CSTV). The pairings can also be found at ncaasports.com following the telecast.
After opening the day by honoring their Senior Class of 2006 – senior manager Lauren Lydon (Ft. Wayne, Ind.), Brittany Fox (Annapolis, Md.), Kerry Van Shura (Bel Air, Md.), Katie Killeen (Manhasset, N.Y.), Meghan deMello (Manlius, N.Y.), Foote and goalkeeper Carol Dixon (Pennsauken, N.J.) – in pregame ceremonies, the Irish wasted little time getting on the scoreboard.
Foote gave Notre Dame a 1-0 lead just 37 seconds into the game with her first of three free-position goals in the game. Curran answered back with her first of six at 26:30 only to see Foote get another free-position tally at 25:27. Curran then tied the game at 2-2 with an unassisted goal at 24:08.
Byers gave the Irish a 5-2 lead when she ran off three goals in just over a five-minute span. Caitlin McKinney (So., Lafayette Hill, Pa.) set up the first one with a feed from behind the cage at 23:27. Byers added unassisted goals at 22:11 and 18:18 for the three-goal lead.
Ferguson then got into the action with her first of the afternoon at 17:03 and the Irish looked like they had the Commodores on the run. Curran picked up her third goal of the game for Vanderbilt at 14:40 to cut Notre Dame’s lead in half at 6-3. From there the defenses stiffened as neither team mustered much offense until the last six minutes of the half.
Pugno converted a Hickman feed (one of two assists in the game) with 5:04 left in the half to cut the Irish lead to 6-4 before Foote scored her third free-position goal of the half with 2:54 left. Hickman closed the scoring for Vanderbilt with a goal with just six seconds left for a 7-5 Notre Dame lead at halftime.
Neither team scored for the first seven-plus minutes in the second half, but when the Commodores found the net, they were able to run off four straight goals. Curran picked up her fourth of the day on a free-position shot at 22:18 to make it 7-6.
Tapscott and Thrift then got together and had a hand in the next three Vanderbilt goals. Tapscott converted a Thrift feed from behind the goal at 19:56 to tie the game at 7-7. Thrift put the Commodores ahead when she scored off a Hickman assist at 16:33 and then gave Vanderbilt a 9-7 lead 44 seconds later at 15:49 when she took a pass from Tapscott and beat Dixon from in close for her second goal of the game.
The two-goal lead would last 24 seconds when Foote took over as playmaker for the Irish. She found Ferguson cutting in front of Vanderbilt goalkeeper Brooke Shinaberry with a pass that Ferguson scored off of with a behind-the-back shot for her 20th goal of the season at 15:25.
Foote then set up Byers’ fourth goal of the game at 11:42 to tie the score at 9-9. Curran wasn’t done though as she would sandwich two unassisted goals around Foote’s fourth of the game to give Vanderbilt an 11-10 lead with 7:56 left in the game.
The Commodores were able to control play for over three minutes before Thrift was given a free-position shot with 4:30 left on the clock. Dixon came up with her biggest save of the afternoon and Notre Dame went on the attack. With the clock under 2:00, Foote carried the ball behind the goal and found Byers on the left side of the goal. The freshman bounced it past Shinaberry to tie the game at 11-11 with 1:47 left.
Byers controlled the ensuing draw and the Irish worked for the last shot. Alicia Billings (Fr., Potomac, Md.) worked her way in front of the goal for a shot with 23 seconds left. She was fouled on the play and given a free-position shot. Instead of shooting, she found Byers wide-open on the left side of the goal and she wasted little time scoring what proved to be the game-winning goal with 18 seconds left.
In the game, the Irish were out shot by Vanderbilt, 29-28. Dixon made seven saves in the Notre Dame goal while Shinaberry had nine for the Commodores.
The Irish will now prepare for final exams next week and must wait until Monday night to see whom they will face in the NCAA tournament next weekend.
** The Irish will appear in the NCAA tournament for the third time in the program’s 10-year history and the third time in the last five years. Notre Dame advanced in 2002 and 2004 and has a 1-2 record in three games.
** Junior Kaki Orr (Darien, Conn.) had a Notre Dame record nine draw controls in the game versus Vanderbilt. The Irish won 17 of 25 draws in the game. The previous record was eight, held by Mara Grace who did it twice (1997, 1998).
** Goalkeeper Carol Dixon made her 47th consecutive start for the Irish and has now tied the Notre Dame record held by Jen White `03 with 53 games played in goal. Her 13 wins this season tie White for the single season mark set in 2002 and her 28 career wins are three behind White’s record of 31.
** For Irish head coach Tracy Coyne, the win over Vanderbilt was the 199th of her coaching career that is now in its 19th season.
Game Summary 1 2 - FSyracuse (6-10) 5 6 - 11# 7 Notre Dame (13-3) 7 5 - 12
First-Half ScoringTime Team Score Goal Assist29:23 ND 1-0 * Crysti Foote (61) Free-position shot26:30 VU 1-1 Margie Curran (31)25:47 ND 2-1 * Crysti Foote (62) Free-position shot24:08 VU 2-2 Margie Curran (32)23:27 ND 3-2 Jillian Byers (42) Caitlin McKinney22:11 ND 4-2 Jillian Byers (43)18:18 ND 5-2 Jillian Byers (44)17:03 ND 6-2 Heather Ferguson (19)14:40 VU 6-3 Margie Curran (33) 5:40 VU 6-4 Nicole Pugno (8) Kate Hickman 2:54 ND 7-4 * Crysti Foote (63) Free-position shot 0:06 VU 7-5 Kate Hickman (46) Cara Giordano
Second-Half ScoringTime Team Score Goal Assist22:18 VU 7-6 * Margie Curran (34) Free-position shot19:56 VU 7-7 Jennifer Tapscott (27) Kendall Thrift16:33 VU 7-8 Kendall Thrift (21) Kate Hickman15:49 VU 7-9 Kendall Thrift (22) Jennifer Tapscott15:25 ND 8-9 Heather Ferguson (20) Crysti Foote11:42 ND 9-9 Jillian Byers (45) Crysti Foote11:15 VU 9-10 Margie Curran (35)10:13 ND 10-10 Crysti Foote (64) 7:56 VU 10-11 Margie Curran (36) 1:47 ND 11-11 Jillian Byers (46) Crysti Foote 0:18 ND 12-11 Jillian Byers (47) Alicia Billings
* Free-position goal
GoalkeepersVanderbilt - Brooke Shinaberry (60:00 min.; 12 goals, 9 saves)Notre Dame - Carol Dixon (60:00 min.; 11 goals, 7 saves)
Shots: VU - 29; ND - 28Ground Balls: VU - 23; ND - 21Draw Controls: VU - 8; ND - 17Caused Turnovers: VU - 11; ND - 10