Junior Kaela Little ranks sixth in the nation in goals against average (0.47).

What To Watch For: Virginia

Sept. 24, 2015

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — The University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team will not only look to bounce back from its first loss of the season when it takes on Virginia on Thursday evening at Klockner Stadium. It will also look to avenge a last-minute loss to the Cavaliers a season ago and to take down the nation’s top ranked team.

WHAT: Match 10
WHO: No. 16/6 Notre Dame (7-1-1) vs. No. 1/1 Virginia (7-0-1)
WHERE: Klockner Stadium – Charlottesville, Virginia
WHEN: 7:00 p.m. (ET) – September 24, 2015
LIVE STREAM: Cavaliers Live (subscription)

Here’s what you should know before the Irish and Cavaliers tangle this evening in Charlottesville:

Scouting Virginia
So far this season, the Cavaliers (7-0- 1, 1-0-0 ACC) have been an offensive force, outscoring opponents 31-4 and outshooting them 186-39. Last week, Virginia opened the conference slate with a a 5-0 victory over Syracuse in which four different Cavaliers scored.

Virginia boasts seven players who have scored at least three goals so far this season, led by junior F Morgan Reuther‘s five goals and 11 points, while junior M Alexis Shaffer leads the team in points with 12 on four goals and four assists. Junior M/D Meghan Cox has tallied four goals and two assists for 10 points, while senior F Makenzy Doniak paces the team with six assists to go along with a pair of goals for 10 points.

Defensively, Morgan Stearns (380 minutes) and Jessie Ferrari (360 minutes) have split time in goal for the Cavs, each having allowed a pair of goals. Stearns leads the duo in saves (6-3), while Ferrari has garnered the majority of decisions with a 6-0-0 record.

The Last Time They Met
Notre Dame met Virginia last October in a regular-season contest at Alumni Stadium. The Cavaliers took the game’s first lead with a goal just seven minutes into the second half, but the Irish tied the game late at one goal apiece when current senior Cari Roccaro fired the equalizer from 30 yards out with 6:01 remaining in the game. But with 21 seconds remaining, Virginia’s Brittany Ratcliffe put the Cavaliers back on top and handed the Irish a heartbreaking 2-1 loss. The Cavaliers moved to 3-0 all-time against the Irish with the win.

Last Time Out: Clemson
Clemson handed Notre Dame its first loss of the season last Saturday in a double overtime heartbreaker. The Tigers and Irish played 101 scoreless minutes before Clemson’s Claire Wagner found the back of the net from 20 yards out on a failed Irish clear up the left side.

After falling behind on the shot chart in the first half, the Irish dominated the second half and overtime periods, outshooting the Tigers 11-6 in that span, including 4-2 edge in shots on goal. In the first overtime alone, Notre Dame outshot Clemson 5-0. Natalie Jacobs led the Irish with five shots and a shot on goal, while Anna Maria Gilbertson added three shots and a shot on target for the Irish, but it wasn’t enough to avoid the loss column.

ACC In The Top 25
Seven Atlantic Coast Conference programs occupy seven slots in the NSCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Poll, including the nation’s top three teams. Today’s opponent Virginia comes in at No. 1 in the rankings, followed by No. 2 North Carolina and No. 3 Florida State, which the Irish will face Sunday.

Next up is Clemson, which jumped to No. 7 following the Tigers’ win over the Irish, followed by No. 10 Virginia Tech, No. 16 Notre Dame and No. 19 Duke.

Stacking Up
The Irish sit near the top of nearly every statistical category in the Atlantic Coast Conference including shots, goals, goals per game, goals allowed, goals against average and shutouts.

Notre Dame tops the league in three defensive categories, having only allowed four goals for a 0.43 goals against average. The Irish also tie for second (with Florida State) to Duke in shutouts with six. Offensively, they rank third in the conference in shots (186), fourth in goals (21) and fourth in goals per game (2.33).

Nationally, the Irish rank 11th in goals against average and shutout percentage (0.667). Individually, Anna Maria Gilbertson lead the league in shots (49) and shots per game (5.44), while tying for third in goals (5) and fourth in points (12). Natalie Jacobs is ranks third in shots per game (4.22) and fourth in shots (38) and points (12). Kaela Little leads the league in goals against average (0.28)

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.

For the latest Fighting Irish women’s soccer coverage, be sure log on to UND.com, follow@NDSoccer on Twitter and like Notre Dame Women’s Soccer on Facebook.

— Joanne Norell, Athletics Communications Assistant