Aug. 27, 2014
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Simply viewing the results of the first weekend of the 2014 regular season for the University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team would tell you a number of key facts.
The Fighting Irish won both of their matches to start the regular season campaign, a 3-1 decision at Illinois last Friday and a 3-0 shutout of Oakland on Sunday at Alumni Stadium. Notre Dame outshot its first two opponents by a combined margin of 39-8, including a 21-2 edge in shots on goal.
Going beyond the statistics themselves, even including the scores of each match, it was a weekend for Notre Dame and new head coach Theresa Romagnolo to build upon. Along with registering the 19th 2-0-0 regular season start in program history, the Fighting Irish moved up five slots from their preseason No. 16 ranking to 11th in the first National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/Continental Tire National Rankings and one spot to No. 10 in the Soccer America poll.
Following a day off for recovery on Monday, the Fighting Irish returned to the practice pitch on Tuesday to begin preparing for this weekend’s Notre Dame Invitational (Aug. 29 and 31) at Alumni Stadium. The gap in time provided Romagnolo the chance to both evaluate and assess the team’s execution after the pair of positive outcomes.
“It was a solid weekend,” Romagnolo said. “We showed some of our potential and I think we started to click, but we aren’t clicking all of the time. One thing that I want us to improve on going into this weekend is playing a little bit quicker and connecting more of our passes, I think we can be a little sharper.
“We need to read what the defense gives us, if they are going to play a high line then we need to find space over the top, if they are going to drop off finding the space in front of them,” she added. “(For us) defensively, we need to be a little bit more organized and disciplined in terms of our tracking of runners and covering the dangerous spaces on the field.”
In the season opening contest at Illinois, Notre Dame had to dig out of a 1-0 deficit following a successfully executed Illini corner kick in the 23rd minute. The Fighting Irish responded in kind, scoring three times over the final 67 minutes to secure the comeback victory. Even on Sunday, protecting a one goal lead against Oakland, Notre Dame did not seem to fully hit its stride until the second half when it added two insurance goals to stymie the Golden Grizzlies.
Finding a greater pace and rhythm earlier in matches is something that Romagnolo and her coaching staff are trying to impart during team instruction, especially the importance of maintaining that rhythm for a full 90 minutes.
“It’s definitely something that I have addressed, bringing urgency to the beginning of a game is critical in terms of setting a tone,” Romagnolo said. “We have started out by possessing instead of probing the other team’s back line, so I’d like to see the area we are attacking be more in the opponent’s territory instead of our own.”
Senior forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita) scored twice during Sunday’s win over Oakland to pace the Notre Dame roster in goals after the regular season’s first weekend, but the Fighting Irish front line has not been the only vital piece to the offensive attack. Junior defender/tri-captain Katie Naughton (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Elk Grove Village) headed home the match-winning goal at Illinois that was served up on a corner from classmate and fellow defender Brittany Von Rueden (Mequon, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels). Von Rueden added her second assist of the young season on Bohaboy’s second goal in Sunday’s home triumph over Oakland.
In keeping with the team’s offensive philosophy, the chance for Fighting Irish defenders to become central playmakers during an offensive rush is in the very framework of the style that Notre Dame is continuing to develop.
“The way we play, we are looking for our backs to get involved in the attack,” Romagnolo said. “Whether it’s on set pieces or attacking the flanks, we are looking to attack with good numbers when it’s on, and that’s something that we have talked about this week.”
No. 11/10 Notre Dame is scheduled to open the 2014 Notre Dame Invitational on Friday at 7:30 p.m. (ET) against No. 16/12 Texas Tech at Alumni Stadium. The Fighting Irish will close their home classic on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. against Southern California. Both matches will be streamed live on WatchND.tv, and will also be available through the WatchND app.
ANDREWS, NAUGHTON RECEIVE TDS TEAM OF THE WEEK RECOGNITION
Sophomore midfielder Morgan Andrews (Milford, N.H./Milford) and junior defender/tri-captain Katie Naughton were each recognized for their individual performances during week one by TopDrawerSoccer.com on Tuesday. Andrews was named a midfield honoree on the first 2014 TopDrawerSoccer Team of the Week, while Naughton received team of the week honorable mention accolades.
Andrews helped power the 2-0-0 Notre Dame attack in a pair of starts during the season’s opening weekend, tallying a team-high three assists out of the six total goals that were scored. Andrews, who has accounted for 22 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 24 career matches with the Fighting Irish, earned Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Freshman of the Year honors during Notre Dame’s inaugural season in the conference in 2013.
Naughton returned from competition with the United States Under-20 Women’s National Team at the 2014 U-20 Women’s World Cup to start both matches on the Notre Dame back line last weekend. Along with aiding the Fighting Irish in allowing only one goal over 180 minutes, Naughton scored the match-winning goal in the 42nd minute at Illinois. The Notre Dame tri-captain has attempted four shots through two matches, with three registering as official shots on goal.
FUTURE ND OPPONENTS PLENTIFUL IN FIRST NSCAA TOP 25 POLL
Notre Dame moved up five spots from its preseason slot of 16 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/Continental Tire National Rankings, checking in at No. 11 in the inaugural regular season poll that was released by the NSCAA on Tuesday. Many familiar names on the upcoming schedule for the Fighting Irish also remain in prime position after week one.
A total of eight future 2014 Notre Dame opponents joined the Fighting Irish in the opening week NSCAA top 25, including five of the nation’s current top 10 teams. Texas Tech, one of the two opponents for the Fighting Irish during this weekend’s Notre Dame Invitational, checked in up one spot to No. 16 in the NSCAA rankings.
To purchase a season pass or single-match tickets for the 2014 Notre Dame women’s soccer season, call the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office at (574) 631-7356, visit the official Notre Dame athletics ticketing web site, UND.com/tickets or stop by the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office windows during normal business hours (9 a.m.-5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday). Tickets also can be purchased at Alumni Stadium on match days.
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.
— Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant