Oct. 30, 2015
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. – The No. 14/8 University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team will wrap up the regular season on Friday and bid farewell to its six seniors, who will play their final regular season game at Alumni Stadium when the Irish welcome No. 5/4 Virginia Tech.
WHAT: Match 18
WHO: No. 14/8 Notre Dame (12-4-1, 5-4-0 ACC) vs. No. 5/4 Virginia Tech (14-2-2, 6-2-1 ACC)
WHERE: Alumni Stadium – Notre Dame, Ind.
WHEN: 7:00 p.m. (ET) – October 30, 2015
LIVE STREAM: ESPN3
Below are the five things you should know as the Irish and Hokies get set to clash:
Scouting Virginia Tech
The Hokies enter Friday’s matchup the owners of a 14-2-2 overall record and a 6-2-1 mark in the Atlantic Coast Conference, and have spend the majority of the season ranked in the NSCAA top ten. They will come in at No. 5 on Friday after a win over Pittsburgh and a scoreless tie with then-No. 1 Florida State last weekend.
The Hokies pack a punch on the offensive end, averaging 2.39 goals per game, with 43 total scores on the season. They attempt 15.8 shots per game, with a .449 shots on goal percentage. Murielle Tiernan leads Virginia Tech and comes in second in the ACC with 13 goals and 28 points. Virginia Tech also has a pair of seven-goal scorers in Laila Gray and Alani Johnson. Ashley Meier is second on the team in points with 17, registering six goals and five assists, while Jordan Coburn leads Virginia Tech with seven assists on the season.
Kaylyn Smith has started all 18 games in goal for the Hokies, allowing 17 goals with 60 saves and a 0.95 goals against average. The Hokies give up 10 shots per game and 1.06 goals per game as a team.
Irish In The Series
Notre Dame and Virginia Tech will square off for just the fifth time, and the second time on Notre Dame’s home field. The last time the teams met in South Bend was in their first-ever matchup in 2002, which the Irish won 5-0.
The Irish and Hokies are tied 2-2 in the all-time series, with Notre Dame taking the 2-0 victory in the teams’ last meeting in Blacksburg, Virginia. The Irish controlled the second half of last year’s contest to upset then-No. 2-ranked Virginia Tech on the road.
The Last Time They Met
The Irish went into Blacksburg last season and came away with a spirited 2-0 victory over the then No. 2/3-ranked Hokies, using clutch second-half goals from Anna Maria Gilbertson and Kaleigh Olmsted as No. 20/16 Notre Dame came away with the upset.
The win avenged a pair of one-goal losses from the previous season – both also in Blacksburg – and snapped a 10-game winning streak for the Hokies. The Irish scored on their first two shots of the second half, as Gilbertson found the back of the net in the 62nd minute on a pass from Karin Simonian, who stole a failed clearance attempt and threaded the ball into a cutting Gilbertson. The Irish forward punched it in from the top of the six-yard box to put the Irish up 1-0.
The Irish got space in the 70th minute when Taylor Schneider gained possession near midfield and sent a through ball in for Olmsted, who struck a left-footed shot on the run to extend the Notre Dame lead. Virginia Tech led 15-9 in shots, but owned only a 5-4 advantage in shots on goal. Irish keeper Kaela Little made five saves to keep the Hokies off the scoreboard.
Last Time Out: UNC & Duke
Notre Dame split on the weekend on a trip to North Carolina last week, playing a pair of tightly contested matches against then-No. 9 UNC and No. 22 Duke. The Irish fell to the Tar Heels 2-1 on Thursday, but bounced back to blank the Blue Devils 1-0 on Sunday.
The Irish took the lead early in the second half against UNC on a goal by sophomore Sabrina Flores in the 47th minute. Junior Sandra Yu gained possession and sent a pass across the net for Flores on the right side, and the midfielder slotted it home for her second goal of the season. Flores also set a career high for shots, with six on the night. The Tar Heels responded in the 71st minute when Alexa Newfield converted on a penalty kick, then took the lead in the 74th minute on a Joanna Boyles header off a set piece.
The Irish righted the ship on Sunday, taking advantage of an early Duke miscue en route to their 10th shutout of the season. The Blue Devils were called for a handball inside the box, giving the Irish a penalty kick opportunity in the third minute. Anna Maria Gilbertson buried the attempt into the left corner past a diving Duke goalkeeper EJ Proctor, and the Irish defense held fast to preserve the 1-0 decision.
Senior Day Recognition
The Irish will honor their six seniors prior to Friday’s contest, as Anna Maria Gilbertson, Katie Naughton, Cari Roccaro, Mary Schwappach, Brittany Von Rueden and Glory Williams play their final regular season home game at Alumni Stadium. The current senior class has compiled a 55-24-6 record in their four years heading into Friday’s game.
Season and single game tickets for Notre Dame women’s soccer are on sale now. Visit UND.com/tickets or call the Murnane Family Ticket Office at 574-631-7356.
Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant 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 and earned her master’s degree from Georgetown University in 2013.