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What To Watch For: ACC Semifinal vs. North Carolina

Nov. 4, 2016

By Joanne Norell

CHARLESTON, S.C. – The University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team will look to take one step closer to an Atlantic Coast Conference tournament title Friday when the Irish face North Carolina in the semifinal at MUSC Health Stadium in Charleston, South Carolina.

WHAT: ACC Women’s Soccer Championship Semifinal
WHO: No. 6 Notre Dame (13-2-4) vs. No. 10 North Carolina (12-3-3)
WHERE: MUSC Health Stadium | Charleston, S.C.
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. (ET) – Nov. 4, 2016
STATS: Live Stats

Scouting North Carolina

The Tar Heels are 12-3-3 on the season and came into the ACC Championship as the No. 4 seed and are winners of their last four since falling to the Irish 1-0 on October 14. They defeated Virginia 3-0 in the ACC quarterfinal to advance to Friday’s semifinal.

North Carolina is led in scoring by ACC Freshman of the Year Bridgette Andrzejewski, who has 19 points with nine goals and one assist. Annie Kingman has 12 points points (four goals, four assists) and Megan Buckingham has 11 points (four goals, three assists).

Goalkeeper Lindsay Harris ranks ranks third in the conference in save percentage (.843), fourth in goals against average (0.72) and fifth in saves (70) and shutouts (6).

The Tar Heels rank third in the conference in goals allowed (13) and goals against average (0.69), fourth in saves (74) and fifth in shutouts (8). Offensively, they are fifth in the conference in goals per game (1.78), sixth in goals (32) and points (92) and seventh in assists (28).

The Last Time They Met

The Irish earned a dramatic 1-0 victory over the Tar Heels on October 14 at Alumni Stadium, the first time Notre Dame had defeated North Carolina on its home field. Notre Dame was dominant in a second half in which the Irish outshot the Tar Heels 12-6 (7-1 SOG), highlighted by freshman Jennifer Westendorf’s free kick goal in the 57th minute. It was the second free-kick tally by Westendorf this season, both nailed from the top of the penalty box.

Last Time Out

The Irish got another late goal Sunday to defeat NC State 1-0 in the ACC quarterfinal to advance to the conference final four in Charleston, South Carolina.

The Wolfpack outshot the Irish 11-6, including 6-3 in shots on goal, but none got by senior goalkeeper Kaela Little. But it was the Irish who got the shot that counted, as junior forward Kaitlin Klawunder buried a rebound shot off junior Karin Muya’s header attempt in the 88th minute. It was the second time this season the Irish scored an 88th-minute shot to win a 1-0 game (Oct. 23 at Wake Forest).

All-ACC Honorees

The Irish had five members make the All-ACC teams, announced Thursday. Senior forward Kaleigh Olmsted was named to the first time, with freshman forward Jennifer Westendorf selected for the second team and senior goalkeeper Kaela Little, senior midfielder Sandra Yu and junior midfielder Taylor Klawunder chosen for the third team. Westendorf was also named to the All-Freshman Team. The five picks for Notre Dame were the most for the all-conference teams since the Irish joined the ACC, and the most since the Irish had six All-BIG EAST picks in 2006.

Stacking Up

For the first time, the Irish are the regular season ACC Champions, sharing the title with Clemson (23 points). Because the Irish defeated Clemson earlier this season, they won the top seed into this year’s ACC Championship.

At No. 6, the Irish are the highest ranked of six Atlantic Coast Conference teams to appear in this week’s NSCAA Division I Women’s Soccer poll. No. 9 Clemson, No. 10 North Carolina, No. 12 Duke, No. 13 Florida State and No. 14 Virginia round out the ACC representation. Virginia Tech is also receiving notes.

Nationally, the Irish rank in the top 3 in four defensive categories: shutouts (second, 14), save percentage (second, 0.924), shutout percentage (third, 0.737) and goals against average (third, 0.349).

Individually, freshman forward Jennifer Westendorf ranks among the top five in the ACC in shots (third, 70 shots) and shots per game (fourth, 3.68/gm). Senior goalkeeper Kaela Little tops the league in save percentage (0.923), goals against average (0.36), shutouts (0.63) and shutouts per game (0.63). She also ranks third in the conference in saves (84) and saves per game (4.42).

— ND —

Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women’s soccer, men’s tennis, women’s tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in mass communication, and earned her master’s degree in sports industry management from Georgetown University in 2013.