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What To Watch For: Clemson

Oct. 6, 2016

By Joanne Norell

NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The Irish open a three-game stint at home Thursday when they welcome No. 12 Clemson to Alumni Stadium.

WHAT: Match 12
WHO: No. 20 Notre Dame (8-1-3, 3-0-1 ACC) vs. No. 12 Clemson (8-2-2, 2-0-2 ACC)
WHERE: Alumni Stadium | Notre Dame, Ind.
WHEN: 7 p.m. (ET) – Oct. 6, 2016

Scouting Clemson

The Tigers are 8-2-2 overall and 2-0-2 in ACC play entering Thursday’s contest. They have tied two straight, against North Carolina (1- 1) and Virginia Tech (2-2) and also have ACC wins over Wake Forest (2-1) and Syracuse (4- 0). Clemson leads the league in points (118), goals (37), goals per game (3.08), assists (44) and assists per game (3.67). Conversely, the Tigers rank in the bottom half of the league in goals allowed (T-eighth, 11), goals against average (0.88), saves (seventh, 39) and shutouts (13th, 4).

Clemson is led in scoring by Catrina Atanda with 22 points on 9 goals and 4 assists. Sam Staab has 11 points on a goal and nine assists, while Claire Wagner has 10 points on four goals and two assists. Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan has played in 10 of the Tigers’ 12 games and has a 1.07 goals against average to go with a .762 saves percentage.

Last Time Out

For the fourth time this season, the Irish played into a second overtime when they traveled to Louisville for last weekend’s lone match-up. This time, however, the Irish stepped away with a win with a dramatic game-winner in the 105th minute.

The Irish extended their current unbeaten streak to nine games, which is an ACC-best and the program’s longest since 2010.

A defensive miscue led to an early Louisville lead as the Cardinals scored in the fifth minute. The Irish, however, controlled the game in possession, and equalized in the 38th minute on a Sandra Yu strike to take a tie into halftime. The Irish and Cardinals played to a draw for the remainder of regulation, but the Irish capitalized in double OT when Megan McCashland headed in the gamewinner off a corner kick from Jennifer Westendorf. It was the first goal of the season for both Yu and McCashland, and McCashland’s first of her career.

The Last Time They Met

The Irish fell to the Tigers in a 1-0 double-overtime decision last season at Clemson. The Tigers scored less than two minutes into the second overtime despite Notre Dame advantages in shots (15-13) and shots on goal (5-3).

Stacking Up

At No. 20, the Irish are one of six Atlantic Coast Conference teams to appear in this week’s NSCAA Division I Women’s Soccer poll, along with No. 2 Florida State, No. 8 Virginia, No. 9 Duke, No. 12 Clemson and No. 15 North Carolina. All of those teams earned seeds in the 2015 NCAA Championship, while Boston College and Virginia Tech also earned bids to round out ACC representation. Virginia Tech, NC State and Boston College are all receiving votes.

Nationally, the Irish rank in the top 10 in four defensive categories: shutouts (T-second, 8), shutout percentage (ninth, 0.667), save percentage (seventh, 0.900) and goals against average (10th, 0.468).

Individually, freshman forward Jennifer Westendorf ranks among the top four in the ACC in shots (third, 49 shots) and shots per game (third, 4.08/gm). She is tied for eighth in the league with five goals. Senior goalkeeper Kaela Little is second in the conference in shutouts (6), saves (53), save percentage (.898), saves per game (4.42), goals against average (0.48) and shutouts per game (0.50).

— 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.