Oct. 27, 2016
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team takes its home field for the final time in the regular season as the No. 12 Irish face Miami on Thursday at Alumni Stadium.
With a win, the Irish will lock up home-field advantage in Sunday’s ACC Championship quarterfinal. The Irish are also still in contention for the regular-season ACC title, which they can snare at least a share of with a win Thursday and a loss or tie by Duke.
WHAT: Match 18
WHO: No. 12 Notre Dame (11-2-4, 6-1-2 ACC) vs. Miami (10-7-0, 5-4-0 ACC)
WHERE: Alumni Stadium | Notre Dame, Ind.
WHEN: 7 p.m. (ET) – Oct. 27, 2016
TELEVISION: ACC Network Extra
The Irish will honor its eight seniors prior to Thursday’s match during its annual Senior Day celebration. Kiley Adams, Sandra Yu, Emily Geyer, Kaela Little, Mariel Adams, Cindy Pineda, Kaleigh Olmsted and Rilka Noel will be in uniform for their final regular-season home match at Alumni Stadium.
This year’s seniors enter Sunday’s game with a 52-21-8 record in their four seasons and look to extend the nation’s second-longest active streak of NCAA Championship qualifications to 24 by season’s end. They have qualified for three ACC Championship tournaments (2013-14-16) and look to add a tournament championship to their resume.
The Hurricanes enter Thursday’s season finale with a 10-7-0 record and in seventh place in the ACC with a 5-4-0 conference mark. Miami has won its last two matches, including a double-overtime win over Virginia Tech last Sunday.
The Hurricanes are led in scoring by Gracie Lachowecki, who has 25 points on 11 goals and three assists. Lachowecki is the reigning ACC Offensive Player of the Week and NSCAA Division I Women’s Player of the Week after notching six points on two goals and two assists in Miami’s wins over Louisville and Virginia Tech, including the game-winner against the Hokies.
Two more Hurricanes are also double-digit scorers. Kristina Fisher has 20 points on seven goals and six assists, while Ronnie Johnson has 17 points on seven points and three assists.
Phallon Tullis-Joyce has played the majority of minutes in goal for Miami, boasting a 0.76 goals against average and a .806 save percentage. Tullis-Joyce also has five shutouts on the season.
The Hurricanes have outscored their opponents 32-13 on the season and outshoot their opponents by an average of 15.7-9.9 per game. Miami is third in the conference in assists (33) and fifth in goals (32) and goals against average (0.75).
Last Time Out
The Irish notched another pair of shutouts last weekend on their final road trip of the regular season. They played to a 0-0 draw in double over time at Virginia Tech on Thursday before heading into Wake Forest and coming away with a 1-0 victory on Sunday.
The Irish and Hokies played to a statistical dead heat, with the Irish owning a 13-12 advantage in shots and the Hokies edging out a 6-5 margin in shots on goal. Senior goalkeeper Kaela Little made six saves for yet another clean sheet for the Irish.
Against the Demon Deacons, the Irish used a late goal to walk away with the victory. It looked like another overtime for Notre Dame until the 88th minute, when junior Megan McCashland slotted in her second goal of the season on a cross from senior forward Kaleigh Olmsted. Little added four saves in yet another shutout effort.
The Last Time They Met
The Irish will look to correct course against the Hurricanes after a heartbreaking 1-0 double-overtime loss to Miami in Coral Gables last season.
The Irish dominated the Hurricanes to the tune of a 16-6 shot advantage and 6-3 edge in shots on goal. It was Miami that found the net first, however, as Gracie Lachowecki – sister of former Notre Dame men’s soccer player Max Lachowecki – flipped the field on the Irish in the 105th minute and poked her shot past Kaela Little to give Miami its first ACC win of the season.
The Irish are 7-2 all-time against the Hurricanes, dating back to their time as members of the BIG EAST Conference (1999-2003). The series was renewed when the Irish joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2013.
Irish ‘Round The World
Three players with Notre Dame connections will suit up for their respective national teams this fall at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, scheduled for November 13-December 3 in Papua New Guinea.
Sabrina Flores and Natalie Jacobs, who redshirted this season while in training, will represent the United States after playing key roles in the U.S. qualifying effort at last December’s CONCACAF Championship.
Junior defender Monica Flores will play with the Mexico U-20 National Team, having seen stints at both the U-20 and full-team level in the past year. Monica Flores played with the Irish through October 14 before leaving to join Mexico in camp. She started all 14 games she played for Notre Dame this season, logging key minutes on defense and in the midfield as the Irish have contended for the top spot in the conference.
At No. 12, 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. 6 Duke, No. 7 Virginia, No. 8 Florida State, No. 14 Clemson and No. 16 North Carolina. All of those teams earned seeds in the 2015 NCAA Championship, while Virginia Tech and Boston College also earned bids to round out ACC representation. Virginia Tech, Miami and NC State are also receiving votes.
Nationally, the Irish rank in the top 10 in four defensive categories: shutouts (T-second, 12), save percentage (third, 0.917), shutout percentage (fourth, 0.706) and goals against average (fourth, 0.388).
Individually, freshman forward Jennifer Westendorf ranks among the top three in the ACC in shots (third, 67 shots) and shots per game (third, 3.94/gm). Senior goalkeeper Kaela Little tops the league in save percentage (0.916) and ranks third nationally in that category. Little is tied for first in the conference in shutouts (10) and ranks second in goals against average (0.40) and third in saves (76) and saves per game (4.47).
— 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.