NOTRE DAME, Indiana — The University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team earned a hard fought 1-0 win over Saint Louis in the first round of the NCAA Championship at Alumni Stadium Sunday afternoon. Freshman Kiki Van Zanten had the lone goal of the afternoon in the 41st minute that proved to be the difference to advance the Irish to the second round.
“It was a team goal and I was lucky enough to be on the right end of it,” said Van Zanten. “Right before the kick, the bench yelled at me to get in front of the keeper and I did just that. When the ball fell around me, I tried to get my foot on it and it was able to go over the line for the goal.”
Both teams were physical throughout the game and offensive chances were limited. Van Zanten’s goal came off a corner kick that dropped in a group of players and she was able to get enough on the ball to cross the line. After the goal, the Irish packed it in defensively and did not allow a shot on goal the rest of the game.
“Really proud of the effort from the team today,” said head coach Nate Norman. “Saint Louis is a very good team and it was a physical game throughout. I challenged the team during the week to try and get opportunities off of set pieces and I was happy to see the goal come off of a corner kick.”
How it Happened
Saint Louis came out on the front foot early and created a number of chances over the first 10 minutes of the game. Courtney Reimer had a point-blank chance in the third minute off of a corner kick. The ball ended up on her foot at the far post after a deflection and she fired a shot on net but Mattie Interian was there to make the save.
Interian made her first start in almost two months after being out with an injury but she had a great first half to limit the Billikens offensive opportunities. She tallied three saves in the opening 45 minutes and came out on a number or crosses to thwart the Saint Louis attack.
The Irish took more of the possession as the half wore on and ended up breaking through in the 41st minute off of a corner. Sammi Fisher sent a high ball into the box that clipped the cross bar and landed in the six-yard box. A number of players tried to get to the ball but it was Van Zanten that got her foot on the ball and sent it over the line for the goal.
In the second half, the Irish continued to control possession and looked to double their lead early in the half.
Bea Franklin had a chance in the 55th minute as a ball was played into her as she faced up a Billiken defender. She turned to her right to launch the shot just outside the six-yard box but it was blocked and sent away from goal. Maddie Mercado had a chance from distance in the 60th minute but Mary Niehaus corralled the ball for the save.
The Notre Dame defense was sound throughout the game and especially in the second half. They always had numbers back and did not allow the Billikens to get passes deep into their attacking third. As the clock ran out, Notre Dame earned its 10th shutout of the season the fourth of the year for Interian.
Stats of the Match
- Kiki Van Zanten notched her fourth goal of the season and second game-winning goal of the year. She had the lone goal in the 1-0 road win over Michigan on Sept. 6.
- Notre Dame improves to 49-3-1 all-time at home in the NCAA Championship.
Coming Up Next
Notre Dame advances to the second round of the NCAA Championship and will travel to Columbia, South Carolina next week. The Irish will have another rematch from the regular season when they square off with the SEC Champion and No. 2 seed South Carolina on Friday. The game is set for a 6 p.m. ET start and will be broadcast on the SEC Network +.