Sept. 27, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – A pair of former high school teammates helped No. 14/12 Notre Dame earn a place in the NCAA record book on Sunday afternoon, as junior forward Lauren Fowlkes (Lee’s Summit, Mo./St. Teresa’s Academy) nodded home a cross from sophomore midfielder Molly Campbell (Mission Hills, Kan./St. Teresa’s Academy) less than five minutes into the second half, lifting the Fighting Irish to a 1-0 BIG EAST Conference victory over Louisville before 2,002 fans at Alumni Stadium. The win stretches Notre Dame’s unbeaten streak against conference opponents to 55 consecutive matches (53-0-2), tying the NCAA record first set by North Carolina during Atlantic Coast Conference play from 1994-2000.
Fowlkes’ goal — her fifth of the season and third in the past four matches — was the breakthrough Notre Dame needed on a day where the Fighting Irish created numerous scoring opportunities, only to see those chances dissolve on the doorstep. Notre Dame outshot the Cardinals, 18-6, on the afternoon, owning a 6-1 edge in shots on goal. The Fighting Irish also held a 7-5 advantage in corner kicks, while fouls were virtually even in the contest (Louisville 8-7).
Senior goalkeeper Kelsey Lysander (San Diego, Calif./Rancho Bernardo) earned the shutout in the Notre Dame net, going the distance and making one critical second-half save for her third solo clean sheet of the season (to go along with two shared shutouts). Meanwhile, for the second consecutive match, the Fighting Irish ran up against a red-hot goalkeeper, as Louisville freshman netminder Taylor Vancil made five saves, including three exceptional point-blank stops in the first half.
“At the end of the day, it’s a win, and we’ll never hang our heads about that,” Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. “Still, I thought there were a lot of things we could have done better today, particularly when it comes to finishing in the offensive third. We had several chances in the opening 10 minutes to really take control of the match, and we didn’t do it. You also have to credit Louisville for a really strong effort. As I’ve said before, we’re a work in progress, but I hope our players will take some lessons from today’s match and apply them as we move forward.”
The Fighting Irish (7-3, 3-0 BIG EAST) wasted little time in turning up the heat on the Cardinals, as junior forward Taylor Knaack (Arlington, Texas/Martin) got loose on the right flank in the third minute, before delivering a crisp lead pass to sophomore forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) in the channel. Henderson cut back at the edge of the six-yard box and played a ball across the goalmouth for junior midfielder Rose Augustin (Silver Lake, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit), but Augustin’s left-footed shot was turned aside by a diving Vancil.
A minute later, junior defender Julie Scheidler (Indianapolis, Ind./Bishop Chatard) lofted a service from the right flank that carried all the way into the penalty area and skipped towards the back post, but Fowlkes came in at a sharp angle and her header missed wide left.
Just past the five-minute mark of the first half, Henderson got free behind the Louisville defense, beating the Cardinals’ offside trap and tracking down a perfectly-timed chip from sophomore midfielder Courtney Barg (Plano, Texas/Plano West). However, Henderson expected Vancil to be charging off her line and rushed her shot from 10 yards out, sending it over the bar.
Henderson got another crack on target the following minute, as Augustin hit the speedy Fighting Irish forward with a precision through-ball. But this time, Vancil was equal to the task, stoning Henderson’s left-footed blast from 12 yards away.
Louisville (3-6, 0-3) had its first true offensive threat in the 16th minute, as Caitlin Rehder took off on a run down the right flank, but her hurried low shot from the top corner of the box skimmed wide of the right post, with Lysander covering the woodwork to be sure.
Notre Dame kept up the offensive pressure in the 19th minute, as senior midfielder Amanda Clark (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) found herself unmarked in the area on the first of Augustin’s four corner kicks in the opening half. Clark rose through the Louisville defense and drilled a sharp header that glanced off the top of the crossbar, keeping the match scoreless.
Shortly after the first-half media timeout (due to the game being televised nationally by CBS College Sports), Henderson showed off her playmaking skills once more, racing down the right channel, then cutting on a dime at the top corner of the penalty area and bending a left-footed cross into the heart of the goalmouth. Fowlkes found herself all alone on the left side of the six-yard box, but her point-blank header was stopped by Vancil, who went post-to-post for the save (25:00).
Louisville’s best chance of the first half came in the closing seconds, as Shannon Leamy pressed up the right flank and unleashed a rising shot that was headed for the upper right 90′, but crashed off the crossbar just before the halftime whistle.
After taking that scare to the locker room, Notre Dame returned for the second half with renewed intensity and it paid off. Knaack started the scoring sequence with a run into the left corner before lofting a ball that carried all the way across the face of goal to the opposite edge of the penalty area, where Henderson tracked it down and kept the play going with a nifty right-footed toe-poke on the touch line. Trailing the play, Campbell ran on to Henderson’s pass just inside the top of the box, then curled a right-footed cross into the slot, where Fowlkes was waiting with a clinical finish, heading the ball into the right-side netting (49:37).
Although Louisville made several forays into the offensive third in the second half, the Cardinals’ lone golden opportunity came against the run of play in the 75th minute, as the visitors caught Notre Dame too far upfield after a corner kick and Giselle Mangal found herself in a foot race with Fighting Irish freshman defender Jazmin Hall (Highland Village, Texas/Marcus) on the way to goal. Mangal wriggled free of Hall’s attempted tackle, but as she gathered for the shot, Lysander came sprinting off her line and cut down the angle, forcing Mangal to try and chip the Notre Dame netminder, who came up with a key save to preserve the shutout.
From there, the Fighting Irish clamped down and kept the Cardinals from any further threats. At the same time, Notre Dame manufactured three solid scoring chances in the final four minutes, the best coming with 3:45 to play, when Knaack crossed a ball from the right side to an unmarked Henderson on the left edge of the six-yard box. Her quick right-footed shot beat Vancil, but caromed off the underside of the crossbar and stayed out of the net. Henderson then returned the favor with 1:50 remaining by setting up Knaack on an angled run into the penalty area, but Knaack’s low right-footed shot curled just wide of the left post.
The Fighting Irish will head on the road for their next four matches, beginning next weekend with a two-match swing to West Virginia and Pittsburgh. Friday’s contest at WVU is slated for 6 p.m. (ET) and will be televised live to a national cable audience by ESPNU. Notre Dame then will travel to Indianola, Pa., on Sunday to take on Pittsburgh in a 1 p.m. (ET) contest.
— ND —
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame’s 55-match unbeaten streak (53-0-2) against BIG EAST Conference opposition began on Oct. 2, 2005, with a 4-0 win at South Florida, following a 4-1 loss at Marquette three days earlier … North Carolina’s 55-match unbeaten streak against ACC opponents lasted from Oct. 23, 1994 to Sept. 1, 2000 … the Fighting Irish also run their unbeaten streak at home against BIG EAST teams to 89 matches (88-0-1) since Connecticut’s 5-4 overtime win over Notre Dame on Oct. 6, 1995, at old Alumni Field … since joining the BIG EAST in 1995, the Fighting Irish are 126-8-4 (.928) all-time in regular-season conference matches, 32-2-1 (.929) in BIG EAST Championship play, and hold a 689-82 scoring edge against conference foes in that 14-year span … Notre Dame has won a season-high four consecutive matches, outscoring the opposition, 9-1 in those four victories … the Fighting Irish also have come back from their Sept. 4 home loss (6-0) to top-ranked North Carolina with four consecutive shutout wins at the brand-new Alumni Stadium, posting a combined 10-0 scoring margin in those victories … Notre Dame moves to 7-1 all-time against Louisville, having won the past seven matches with the Cardinals, including all five since Louisville joined the BIG EAST Conference in 2005 (11-1 aggregate in those last five wins) … the Fighting Irish move to 159-4-2 (.970) all-time at home against unranked teams (according to the National Soccer Coaches Association of America poll) … Fowlkes’ fifth goal and 11th point this season tie her for the team lead with Henderson (also 5G-1A), while Sunday’s tally also was Fowlkes’ second gamewinning goal of the year, and the third of her career … Campbell picked up her second assist of the season (and of her career) … Sunday’s seven corner kicks tied a season high for the Fighting Irish (also vs. Loyola-Chicago on Aug. 28 at old Alumni Field, and vs. DePaul on Sept. 18 at Alumni Stadium) … Lysander earned her 14th career solo shutout, tying Liz Wagner (1998-2001) for sixth in school history … Notre Dame runs its all-time record to 381-9-15 (.959) when holding the opposition to 0-1 goals.