Nov. 14, 2014
The contest was played in frigid conditions, with temperatures in the low 20s at kickoff before dropping as the match went on. There were no prolonged snow showers during the match after 12 plus inches of snow rocked the South Bend area in the previous 24 hours.
No. 12/11 Notre Dame (13-5-2) improved to 8-0 all-time in home NCAA Championship matches at Alumni Stadium. The Fighting Irish are now 14-2 (.875) in first round matches contested on their home field in NCAA play since 1993.
Notre Dame finished the contest with a dominant 25-1 shots edge over upset-minded Valparaiso (14-2-4), handing the Horizon League champion Crusaders their first loss in 19 matches. The Fighting Irish held a 9-0 shots on goal advantage, and attempted three corner kicks to none for Valparaiso.
“I thought it was a testament to how well we played,” Notre Dame head coach Theresa Romagnolo, who earned her first career NCAA tournament victory, said. “Any time we create that many opportunities for ourselves we’re doing something right. We moved the ball pretty well, and the movement off the ball went well, and we just needed to finish a chance. I thought Anna Maria stepped up huge for us in creating the goal, and Kaleigh just smacked it in the back of the net. It was proactive to find herself in a good area of the field.”
Gilbertson executed a masterful run at the tail end of the 89th minute with a shifty dribble up the left sideline, finding space in the corner of the Valparaiso defense to send a cross toward the front. Olmsted patiently waited at the top of the six-yard box, volleying a left-footed one-timer past a sprawling Sydney Galvez-Daley at 89:10 for the match’s only goal.
“Honestly I don’t remember why I was in the box, I just know that Anna hit it in and I thought it ricocheted off someone’s foot,” Olmsted said. “I knew I was dead square in the middle of the goal and shot it as hard as I could.
“We had so many chances and just relentlessly went at them, and it was unlucky time and time again,” Olmsted added. “When we got that goal, there was so much anxiety that was lifted off. (Junior midfielder/tri-captain) Cari Roccaro came up and squeezed me as hard as she could. It felt like so much love from my team.”
Olmsted’s last-minute tally unseeded a score from Jill Krivacek with 53 seconds remaining in a 1-0 win second round triumph over Wisconsin as Notre Dame’s latest NCAA Championship winner, 10 years ago to the day on Nov. 14, 2004. It was Olmsted’s first career NCAA tournament goal in her fifth career postseason match.
“I love every single one of my teammates, and I have the utmost respect (for everyone),” Olmsted said. “I have never been part of a team where I’ve really felt like I belong, and that accepts and encourages me. On the field as the season has gone on, I feel like if you make a bad tackle they’re always like, `It’s fine, get the next one.’ They are always reinforcing, they are never getting on to you, and it’s always positive encouragement. Obviously we’ve had some letdowns against some of the best teams in the nation, but after it’s like a lesson and we’re moving forward. I’m proudest of our resilience and everything we have accomplished so far.”
Notre Dame logged numerous quality chances throughout the night, including a hit crossbar and numerous chances that just skirted wide of frame. The Fighting Irish would not be denied, continuing to push the offensive tempo.
“There was definitely some frustration,” Romagnolo said. “Any time that you can’t smack the ball in the back of the net, we were even missing the target, so there was definitely frustration. Just to keep positive and keep them believing was what our focus was on. That’s the game, some games it’s just harder to score and you have to keep persevering to find a way.”
Notre Dame attempted the first six shots of the match over the opening 17 full minutes but could not break through against Galvez-Daley, who made three saves during that span. The Fighting Irish had their best chance of the opening half in the 22nd minute, when senior forward Karin Simonian (Westbury, New York/W.T. Clarke) rang a 30-yard blast off the crossbar.
Despite a 13-1 shots edge in Notre Dame’s favor at the end of the half, the match remained scoreless. Luckily for the Fighting Irish, it was a position the team has found themselves in before during the 2014 season.
“We’ve had a lot of one-nil games this year, so the thing I’m proud of is the fact that we will fight, scrap and keep working until we get that last goal but defensively we do remain strong,” Romagnolo said. “We keep our focus, stay disciplined in our shape, and that’s the most important thing because you just never know when the goals are going to come.”
Notre Dame continued to pour the pressure on during the second half, with Gilbertson breaking free in the 71st minute with a direct run on goal. Galvez-Daley dove on a partial shot attempt by the Fighting Irish striker to deflect the ball out of the Valparaiso 18-yard box.
With time winding down the spotlight descended on Olmsted, who narrowly missed shoveling the ball into the left corner of the goal in the 23rd minute when her only other shot attempt of the match traveled wide. Given another chance in a prime scoring area, Olmsted left no doubts.
“Every team that you play in the NCAA tournament is going to be good,” Olmsted said. “Every team is going to bring everything they have because either they are moving on or it’s their last game. It doesn’t matter who you play, they are going to bring it. Playing Virginia in the regular season (Oct. 5), they brought it, and I don’t think we had our best game that day. Playing North Carolina (Sept. 20) we let down in the second half.
“We have had a lot of upsets that are learning experiences and we know that we’re better than that,” she added. “Coming out here today after having some unfortunate things happen, being able to get that goal in the last minute felt like everything we’ve been preparing for was released in that last second. It doesn’t matter when it happens, we’re good enough to move on and that’s what we did.”
Sophomore goalkeeper Kaela Little (Tulsa, Oklahoma/Bishop Kelley) did not face a shot on net to earn her 12th solo shutout of the season, and her second career clean sheet in NCAA Championship play. Galvez-Daley took the hard-luck loss, making eight saves in the full 90 minutes for Valparaiso.
Notre Dame travels to College Station, Texas for a second round NCAA Championship showdown against Texas on Nov. 21 at 4 p.m.(ET).
For more information on the Fighting Irish women’s soccer program, follow Notre Dame on Twitter (@NDsoccernews or @NDSoccer), like the Fighting Irish on Facebook (facebook.com/NDWomenSoccer) or sign up for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the “Fan Center” pulldown menu on the main page at UND.com.
#12/11 Notre Dame 1, Valparaiso 0
NCAA Championship – First Round
Nov. 14, 2014
Notre Dame, Ind. (Alumni Stadium)
Valparaiso0 0 – 0
Notre Dame 0 1 – 1
ND 1.Kaleigh Olmsted 3 (Anna Maria Gilbertson) 89:10.
Total Shots:VALPO 1 (1-0), ND 25 (13-12)
Shots on Goal: VALPO 0 (0-0), ND 9 (6-3)
Saves: VALPO 8 (Sydney Galvez-Daley 8 in 90:00), ND 0 (Kaela Little 0 in 90:00)
Corner Kicks: VALPO 0 (0-0), ND 3 (1-2)
Fouls: VALPO 9 (5-4), ND 10 (6-4)
Offsides: VALPO 1, ND 0
Records: VALPO 14-2-4; ND 13-5-2
Next for ND: Vs. Texas, NCAA Championship second round, Nov. 21 in College Station, Texas.
— Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant