Oct. 16, 2011
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Senior forward/tri-captain Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) scored the go-ahead goal with 5:34 to play, and sophomore midfielder Elizabeth Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) added her first score of the year in the final 80 seconds as Notre Dame locked up a first-round bye for the upcoming BIG EAST Conference Championship with a 3-1 victory over Villanova on Sunday afternoon at Alumni Stadium.
Freshman forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita) picked the right time for her first career two-assist match, setting up both late Fighting Irish scores. Senior midfielder/tri-captain Jessica Schuveiller (Plano, Texas/Plano West) had put Notre Dame on the board late in the first half with her sixth goal of the season, while Tucker earned the secondary assist on Henderson’s team-high 13th goal of the year, and sophomore midfielder Mandy Laddish (Lee’s Summit, Mo./Lee’s Summit) had the primary helper on Tucker’s brace.
Notre Dame (8-6-3, 5-3-2 BIG EAST) had an overwhelming 28-3 edge in total shots, including an 11-1 advantage in shots on goal. The Fighting Irish also earned all six corner kicks in the contest, while fouls were virtually even (5-3 against Villanova).
Katie Ryan scored her 12th goal of the season for the Wildcats (8-8-2, 4-6-0), while attack linemates Heidi Sabatura and Erin Ryan were credited with assists on the score, which came via an efficient counterattack midway through the second half on what would turn out to be VU’s lone shot on goal during the match (and its only shot of any kind in the second half). Villanova goalkeeper Jami Kranich made six saves, and benefitted from two other stops by her teammates on Fighting Irish shots in the penalty area.
“This was an important win for us,” Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. “We needed this to get ourselves back on the right track, both mentally and in the standings, after we let one get away on Friday (against Georgetown). I was happy with the way we pressured them all the way through, and didn’t get down after Villanova tied it up on that counterattack — and give them credit because they executed it very well. We kept up the pressure and I think we got a deserved result based on the way we played. This is the kind of effort that we are more used to seeing, and now we focus on our next match against DePaul next Friday.”
The Wildcats gave some heart palpitations to the loyal Fighting Irish supporters at Alumni Stadium with an early threat in the fifth minute, as a lead pass for Katie Ryan in the right channel checked up near the top right of the penalty area and Notre Dame junior goalkeeper Maddie Fox (San Jose, Calif./Leigh) got a late break on the ball. However, Ryan wasn’t able to get enough on her rushed shot, which snuck underneath Fox, but rolled slowly towards the six-yard box where the ball was easily collected and cleared by the retreating Fighting Irish defense.
From there, Notre Dame was on the front foot the rest of the way, tallying nine shots, a pair of corner kicks and a couple of dangerous free kicks during the next 35 minutes. Schuveiller finally broke the ice for the Fighting Irish with an unassisted goal in the 42nd minute, picking off a Villanova goal kick just shy of the midfield circle and pushing back towards the left channel. She then hammered a 25-yard left-footed shot that settled perfectly into the upper left corner of the net past an outstretched Kranich (41:41).
Notre Dame nearly doubled its lead in the opening two minutes of the second half, as Henderson dribbled past two defenders to the left by-line before driving a low cross through the box. Laddish ran on to the pass near the penalty spot, but her shot on goal was knocked down by VU defender Megan Verdeur and swept away by the rest of the Wildcats’ defense.
Laddish had a similar golden opportunity just past the hour mark, after Henderson flicked a header to the far left side of the area for sophomore forward Adriana Leon (Maple, Ontario/The Country Day School), who quickly sent a service across the face of goal to Laddish at the back post. However, as Laddish was about to convert the point-blank finish, Villanova defender Taylor Houck came out of nowhere to chop the ball free and clear it out over the by-line.
That play proved critical just moments later, as Henderson’s shot off the ensuing corner kick was blocked and the Wildcats were off to the races on the counter. Erin Ryan won the ball near the midfield stripe and played it ahead to Sabatura in the right channel. Sabatura charged towards the penalty area before serving a cross for Katie Ryan who converted from 10 yards out (61:40).
Undeterred, Notre Dame fired six more shots during the next 16 minutes, three coming from Leon and two on frame that Kranich stopped confidently. Yet, it was clear that while the score was even, the Fighting Irish were creating the more threatening chances and it was more a question of whether Notre Dame would find the scoring solution before regulation time ended.
As it turned out, the match-winning goal came in the blink of an eye during the 85th minute. Tucker collected a ball near the top left corner of the penalty area and alertly spotted Kranich slightly off her line, firing a shot that clanged hard off the crossbar. The ball ricocheted to Bohaboy at the right side of the six-yard box, and the rookie smartly headed the ball back into the goal mouth where Henderson was lurking and the veteran striker flicked a header inside the left post past a diving Kranich (84:26).
Bohaboy then started another precision passing sequence that led to the clinching score, sliding a ball down the right side of the area for Laddish on a well-timed run. Laddish took her defender all the way to the by-line and forced Kranich to come and cover the near post before lofting a cross to the back post and Tucker was perfectly positioned for the simple re-directed header into an empty net (88:40).
Notre Dame closes out the regular season at 7:30 p.m. (ET) Friday when it plays host to DePaul at Alumni Stadium. Prior to the match, the Fighting Irish will hold a short ceremony to honor their eight graduating senior players and senior manager Brendan Andrew. A free live web cast and live statistics for this match will be available on the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.UND.com).
For more information on the Notre Dame women’s soccer program, join the Fighting Irish women’s soccer news Twitter page (@NDsoccernews) or sign up for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the sidebar on the women’s soccer page at UND.com.
— ND —
POST MATCH NOTES: Notre Dame continues its uncanny success on Sundays, improving to 21-3-4 in its last 28 Sunday matches and 40-5-5 (.800) in its last 50 matches on Sunday … Notre Dame’s 28 total shots were one off their season high in BIG EAST play (29 at Cincinnati in a 4-1 win on Sept. 18), while also marking the fifth time this year the Fighting Irish have recorded at least 25 shots in a match (first since a 26-shot effort in a 1-1 draw at South Florida on Sept. 22) … Notre Dame’s 11 shots on goal tied for the second-most by the Fighting Irish in a BIG EAST match this year, topped only by a 14-shot afternoon at Cincinnati (Notre Dame also had 11 shots on goal in a 3-0 home win over Providence on Oct. 2) … Sunday represented the second time this season the Fighting Irish have not allowed a corner kick, something they also achieved on Sept. 2 in a 7-1 win over Tulsa at Alumni Stadium … Notre Dame rises to 18-1 all-time against Villanova, including a 10-0 record in South Bend … the Fighting Irish also post their ninth consecutive win over the Wildcats since VU’s first series win (1-0 on Sept. 27, 2002) …Villanova did score its first goal at Notre Dame in more than 10 years, dating back to a 2-1 Fighting Irish win on Sept. 21, 2001, at old Alumni Field … Notre Dame has scored multiple goals in six of its last seven matches against the Wildcats, outscoring VU by a 22-5 margin during that span (which dates back to the 2005 season) … the Fighting Irish improve to 31-4 at Alumni Stadium since its new home facility opened in September 2009 … Henderson now has 65 career goals, tying her with 2000 Hermann Trophy recipient Anne Makinen (1997-2000) for fifth in Notre Dame history … in addition, Henderson is up to 155 career points, one behind Michelle McCarthy (1992-95) for 10th place in the Fighting Irish record books … Notre Dame jumps to 40-3-3 when Henderson scores a goal and 51-3-3 all-time when she collects a point … Bohaboy’s two-assist day marked the sixth time this year a Fighting Irish player has had two assists in a match, with Henderson the last to do so on Sept. 30 in a 3-0 win over Connecticut at Alumni Stadium … Schuveiller netted her career-high sixth goal of the season, with five of those scores coming in the past seven Fighting Irish matches … Tucker is the 11th different Notre Dame player to score a goal this year … Henderson’s go-ahead goal with 5:34 left was the latest match-winner for the Fighting Irish since Nov. 6, 2009, when Schuveiller’s decisive header at 98:42 gave Notre Dame a 2-1 extra-time victory over St. John’s in the semifinals of the BIG EAST Championship at Storrs, Conn. … once again, Notre Dame players wore specially-designed uniforms (modeled after the 2008-09 Fighting Irish men’s soccer kits), with these jerseys available to the public via an on-line auction (UND.com/auctions) that continues through 5 p.m. (ET) Monday, and the current bid total already approaching $4,000; the proceeds from this auction will go to the Steve Emrich Fund, which helps defray medical expenses for longtime Notre Dame supporter Steve Emrich, who has been hospitalized since late May with severe action myoclonus following a stroke, subsequent cardiac arrest and even a three-week coma that he has since emerged from (see UND.com/emrich for more information, or to learn how you can contribute to this cause).