Aug. 21, 2015
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — University of Notre Dame women’s soccer head coach Theresa Romagnolo used the preseason run-up to Friday’s 2015 season lid-lifter with Valparaiso to emphasize the importance of starting matches aggressively.
It was an issue that had plagued the 2014 version of the Fighting Irish, who would often take five or 10 minutes to settle into matches, resulting in many decisions that were too close for comfort. So, prepping her team to enter the 2015 season with a go-getter mentality was a priority for Romagnolo.
It appeared the message took Friday, when the No. 9/8 Irish controlled the Crusaders from start to finish en route to a 6-0 season-opening victory at Alumni Stadium.
“It was exciting,” Romagnolo said. “I think they did what we asked of them and it was what we’ve seen in the scrimmages, and I think what we saw was a relentless attack. We saw a lot of different people step up and take risks to get into dangerous areas on the field. I think we had some great finishes … and so many people coming forward, which is what we’re asking them to do when it calls for it.”
Notre Dame (1-0-0) was stifling on both ends, bottling Valparaiso (0-1-0) in its own end for much of the contest. The Irish owned a 29-0 edge in shots, including a 17-0 advantage in shots on goal.
The Irish saw goals from six different scorers on the night, with Katie Naughton, Glory Williams, Sandra Yu, Natalie Jacobs, Taylor Klawunder and Anna Maria Gilbertson each notching tallies. Jacobs paced the attack with constant activity around the net, firing seven shots and adding an assist to her goal for three points on the night.
“It was good to start out with some confidence,” said Jacobs, a freshman making her first career start. “There was some nerves in between it all, but having a team that’s so supportive really increased the confidence.”
Jacobs launched five shots, including two on goal, before finally finding the net from 25 yards in the 53rd minute off a cross from senior defender Brittany Von Rueden, who turned in a stellar performance attacking from the back and totaling a pair of assists.
The Crusaders looked to pack in on their end to start the game, a strategy which had worked when the teams met a season ago in the first round of the NCAA Championship. Valparaiso kept the Irish scoreless through 89 minutes that night, but an attacking Irish unit saw no such droughts in Friday’s match.
It took less than six minutes for the Irish to break through, taking advantage of a Von Rueden free kick from 40 yards out that Naughton buried on the header to give the Irish a 1-0 lead.
“Any time you start off the game with a goal, I think you’re going to put your opponent on their heels,” Romagnolo said. “That was just a great way to start the half and get the momentum in our favor.”
The Irish midfield got into the action later in the half, flashing the technical creativity that excited Romagnolo throughout camp and the preseason. After corralling a loose ball up the middle, freshman Natalie Jacobs dropped a nifty backward pass to newly minted midfielder Sabrina Flores, who found a streaking Glory Williams on the left side for a Notre Dame goal from 10 yards out to give the Irish a 2-0 advantage at the break.
Junior midfielder Sandra Yu, seeing her first significant career minutes after spending her first two seasons sidelined with injuries, got things started in the second half, driving an unassisted goal into the top left corner of the net to extend the Irish lead to 3-0 in the 49th minute.
“With (Flores and Yu) on the ball, I think they can really pull the strings for our offense,” Romagnolo said.
Five minutes after Jacobs’ goal put the Irish up 4-0, sophomore midfielder Klawunder put a header into the right corner of the net off a cross from junior forward Kaleigh Olmsted, while Gilbertson wrapped up the Irish scoring by burying a penalty kick into the left corner past Valparaiso keeper Drew Moulton.
“I think it was a great way to start,” Jacobs said. “We scored by six different people and so many different people showed up and it’s awesome to be a part of it.”
Notre Dame returns to action at 3 p.m. ET Sunday when the Irish welcome Toledo (1-0-0) to Alumni Stadium.
Season and single game tickets for Notre Dame women’s soccer are on sale now. Visit und.com/tickets or call the Murnane Family Ticket Office at 574-631-7356.
Joanne Norell, Athletics Communications Assistant
August 21, 2015
No. 9/8 Notre Dame 6, Valparaiso 0
Alumni Stadium (Notre Dame, Ind.)
Valparaiso 0 0 — 0
Notre Dame 2 4 — 6
ND 1. Katie Naughton 1 (Brittany Von Rueden) 5:24. ND 2. Glory Williams 1 (Sabrina Flores, Natalie Jacobs) 28:15. ND 3. Sandra Yu 1 (-) 48:10. ND 4. Natalie Jacobs 1 (Brittany Von Rueden) 52:54. ND 5. Taylor Klawunder 1 (Kaleigh Olmsted, Anna Maria Gilbertson) 63:47. ND6. Anna Maria Gilbertson 1 (PK) 66:27.
Shots: ND 29 (14-15), VU 0 (0-0)
Shots on goal: ND 17 (7-10), VU 0 (0-0)
Saves: ND 0 (Lexi Nicholas 0 in 66:30; Kaela Little 0 in 23:30), VU 11 (Drew Moulton 11 in 90:00)
Corner Kicks: ND 6 (1-5), VU 3 (2-1)
Fouls: ND 13, VU 10
Offsides: ND 0, VU 0