Notre Dame, Ind.–The top-ranked Notre Dame women’s soccer team shook off a disjointed first-half effort before surging past upstart Michigan in the second half, as the Irish downed the visiting Wolverines, 3-1, in NCAA Championship second-round action Sunday afternoon at Alumni Field.
Notre Dame (21-0-1)-which finished with a 29-4 shot edge and a 6-1 corner kick margin-advances to a third-round matchup with Harvard (12-7-0), to be played at 7:00 p.m. Friday night, Nov. 17, at Alumni Field.
Michigan (13-9-1)-which has yet to beat the Irish in seven series games, including a 5-1 loss at home on Oct. 24-managed just two shots in the first half but nearly held the lead at halftime, with senior forward Kacy Beitel smacking a 20-yard shot off the crossbar in the 24th minute before tying the game on a free kick-header combination seven minutes later.
The Irish likewise opened the scoring on a set play, with seniors Anne Makinen and Meotis Erikson again exploiting their intertwined field sense that has developed during the past four seasons. Sophomore midfielder Ashley Dryer-who missed the final 16 minutes of the first half due to a bruised ankle-then sparked Notre Dame in the second half, with the primary assist on freshman Amanda Guertin’s go-ahead goal before scoring the second goal of her career to provide the final margin.
The first goal developed as Makinen set up for a free kick just outside the left side of the penalty box and sent a dipping cross toward the left corner of the goal, with Erikson maki0ng a run towards the post from the far side. Despite drawing the attention of a Michigan defender, Erikson made a pinpoint run onto the ball and deftly volleyed it out of the air and into the left side of the net for her 12th goal of the season and the 58th of her career (11:35).
Michigan’s goal came via a service from 40 yards out by sophomore defender Andrea Kayal, who sent the ball into the top part of the box. Beitel was slanting in from the left and timed her jump to nudge a header past charging Irish goalkeeper Liz Wagner for her 10th goal of the season and a 1-1 halftime score (30:23).
“Our hope was to get an early goal and get into halftime with the score tied,” said sixth-year Michigan head coach Debbie Rademacher. “It showed a lot of hard work getting the goal to tie it up. Then it’s anybody’s game.”
Second-year Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum was direct with the Irish during his halftime speech. “During halftime, I didn’t talk to them about anything tactically,” said Waldrum. “I told them, ‘If you want to waste 21 games from this year over the next 45 minutes by playing like you did the first half, then go do it. If you want to play Friday, then go get this thing turned around.’
“There wasn’t anything tactically that we were doing wrong. We just weren’t focused and that’s my responsibility. I didn’t have them ready.”
Beitel’s goal ended Wagner’s shutout streak at 700 minutes and marked just the fourth time this season that a team has come back to tie the Irish (the last coming seven weeks ago at West Virginia).
Notre Dame did not let the tie score linger for long, with sophomore forward Ali Lovelace adding to her string of postseason points after playing the ball to Dryer on the right flank. Dryer then made a run at the right side of the box and slid a pass over to an unmarked Guertin, who showed the patience of a veteran before blasting an eight-yard shot past senior ‘keeper Carissa Stewart for her 11th goal of the season (53:46).
“I just passed it back to Ali, saw an opening and ran through,” said Dryer. ” I looked up and saw ‘Guerty’ and just tried to pass it to her. The goal was big. We knew if we got a quick goal, hopefully we could get the game into our control.”
Dryer then closed the deal herself eight minutes later, after taking a pass from senior defender Monica Gonzalez on the left side. Dryer used a combination of moves to slide by a pair of Michigan players before sending a low crossing shot that sailed out of Stewart’s reach and inside the far right post for her second goal of the season-and the second of her career (65:55).
“In the second half, we were better, corrected some problems and pretty much had the game under control,” said Waldrum. “Amanda Guertin is so composed around the box and that kind of showed on her goal. She ran in there with speed, slowed down and settled it before knocking it in.”
Rademacher provided her perspective on the national title chase, during her postgame comments. “Notre Dame certainly is the best team we’ve seen this year, in terms of all-around and who they can bring in,” she said. “We’ve faced a lot of good teams this year, Penn State and Washington. It’s really wide open. We haven’t seen Clemson and some of the other schools.
“Notre Dame has so many weapons and good speed and everybody is so good on the ball.”
Waldrum again had a chance to witness his team reacting to adversity, saying “You want to see how your players are going to respond under pressure situations, and we’ve been under that enough times this season.”
MORE WALDRUM QUOTES: “Michigan played very well but I didn’t think we were very good in any phase of our game today. We just seemed to not be focused today. We made a lot of mistakes positionally that we got away with it. It’s the first time all season that we’ve really been that disorganized. The first 20 minutes, we played pretty well. Meotis had a nice goal off Anne’s free kick but we brought some other players on. Normally, when we have get into a rotation we’ve been very good but we just didn’t step up to the plate. … We always talk about how Mia Sarkesian and Ashley Dryer don’t get enough credit for what they do. But when Ashley went out in the first half, we really lost a handle of things in the midfield. And then to come back with an assist and a goal. It just shows how important a player she is for our team.”
#1 Notre Dame 1 2 – 3
Michigan 1 0 – 1
ND 1. Meotis Erikson 12 (Anne Makinen) 11:35, MICH 1. Kacy Beitel 10 (Andrea Kayal) 30:23, ND 2. Amanda Guertin 11 (Ashley Dryer, Ali Lovelace) 53:46, ND 3. Dryer 2 (Monica Gonzalez) 65:55.
Shots: MICH 2-2/4, ND 13-16/29.
Corner Kicks: MICH 1, ND 6.
Saves: MICH 9 (Carissa Stewart), ND 0 (Liz Wagner).
Fouls: MICH 12, ND 11.
Offsides: MICH 2, ND 0
TEAM NOTES: The Irish own an all-time NCAA Tournament record of 21-6-1 (.768) and have opened NCAA play with a victory in each of the past seven seasons … Sunday’s game marked the 14th time this season that ND has allowed 0-2 shots on goal (1) … updated season stat edges: 71-7 in scoring, 542-123 in shots (avg. 25-6), 307-57 in shots on goal (avg. 14-3), 144-49 in CKs (avg. 7-2) … ND has owned a shot margin of 25-plus in eight games (+25 on Sunday) … the Irish are 42-4-2 (.896) in Waldrum’s two-year tenure … ND is 116-7-1 (.940) in 11 seasons at Alumni Field, including 92-3-1 in the last 96 and 81-1-0 vs. unranked teams (74 straight wins) … ND’s current 24-game home winning streak includes a 64-10 scoring edge … the Irish own a 34-3-1 all-time record when playing as the top-ranked team … freshmen have scored 38% of ND’s goals (27 of 71) … ND has managed just 29 first-half goals this season, compared to 40 in the second half … set plays have produced six ND goals in the last 10 games … ND is 30-1-2 in its last 33 games overall … Gonzalez’ assist marked just the 8th point (all assists) recorded by an ND defender this season … Erikson and Makinen each have opened the scoring in five games this season … ND now has jumped out to 1-0 leads in the first 12:00 of seven games this season … all 22 games this season have seen an ND player whose first name starts with A or M score the first Irish goal (or help set up an opening own goal).
INDIVIDUAL NOTES: Makinen has 41 points (14G-13A) in 24 career postseason games (she has 18 points, 5G-8A, in 13 career NCAA tournament games) … Erikson has 12 pts (4G-4A) in 13 career NCAA games (10G-10A-30 pts in 24 total postseason games) … Erikson, Vanessa Pruzinsky and Wagner are the only ND players to start all 22 games this season … Erikson has appeared in all 98 games of her career, edging past Kate Sobrero (’98) into a four-way tie for 6th on the Irish career GP list, one behind Kara Brown … Makinen is 4A shy of becoming the 6th Division I women’s soccer player ever to reach 60G-60A … more than half (4G-3A) of Lovelace’s 20 career points have come in the postseason … Guertin’s four game-winning goals rank 2nd on the team (Makinen has five) … Guertin has 16 points in the last 12 games (7G-2A) … Makinen’s assist was the 56th of her career, one behind Shannon Boxx (’99) for 4th in ND history … Makinen heads into the Harvard game with 184 career points-5th all-time at ND and just six out of 2nd … Erikson and Makinen are tied for 12th at ND for career games started (85), one behind Tiffany Thompson (95) and three back of Michelle McCarthy (’96) … Erikson’s 58 career goals rank 7th in ND history, one behind McCarthy and three back of Cindy Daws (’97) … Erikson moved past McCarthy (156) into 7th on the ND all-time scoring list, with 158 points.
AROUND THE BRACKET: Sunday’s other seven second-round games produced just one victory by a visiting team, as Florida State repeated its earlier win this season over Florida by winning 2-1 at Gainesville on Sunday … 13 of the 16 teams that received first-round byes still are alive (Hartford was upset by Harvard, Cal by Santa Clara) … the average margin of victory in the second round was 2.94, including four wins by five-goal margins and two by four goals … the round of 16 will include the following matchups:
Harvard at Notre Dame
Santa Clara at BYU
Virginia at North Carolina (5-0 winner over Wake Forest)
Connecticut (1-0 winner over Wisconsin) at Nebraska
Florida State at Clemson
Texas A&M (4-0 winner over Marquette) at UCLA
Dartmouth (4-1 winner over Boston) at Penn State (1-0 OT winner over Illinois)
Washington (5-0 winner over Montana) at Portland