Oct. 21, 2000
STORRS, Conn. – STORRS, Conn. (10/21/00) – The ever-growing Notre Dame-Connecticut women’s soccer rivalry added another chapter on Friday night at Marrone Stadium, as the top-ranked Irish and 25th-ranked Huskies played to a scoreless tie in front of 2,494 spirited fans.
Road-weary Notre Dame (16-0-1)-which has spent seven of the last eight days away from home-failed to tie the Irish record for consecutive wins in a season while seeing its string of consecutive wins over BIG EAST Conference teams end at 25 games.
Connecticut (12-5-2) held a commanding 16-7 shot edge but repeatedly was thwarted by Irish junior goaltender Liz Wagner, who again turned in a strong performance versus a ranked opponent by making eight saves while smothering several other potential scoring chances.
The Irish still hold a commanding 9-2-2 edge in the all-time series with UConn but only one of the games has been decided by more than two goals (ND’s 6-1 win in the 1997 BIG EAST title game), with Friday ranking as the lowest-scoring game of a low-scoring series that also has included three 1-0 games, a 1-1 tie, one 2-0 game and three 2-1 games.
Several Irish players joined Wagner with solid all-around performances, led by five field players who logged the entire 120 minutes: junior midfielder Mia Sarkesian, sophomore midfielder Ashley Dryer, sophomore defenders Nancy Mikacenic and Vanessa Pruzinsky and senior Monica Gonzalez-who played all over the field while ranking as one of the game’s most impactful players.
Notre Dame continued to play without two of its top players-both out due to injury-as freshman forward Amy Warner missed her seventh straight game while senior defender Kelly Lindsey missed her fourth. The Irish again elected to rest leading scorer Anne Makinen at the start of the game, with Gonzalez-who also played at defense and forward on Friday-filling Makinen’s central midfielder role before the three-time All-American entered late in the first half (she played the rest of the way).
The gritty Irish defense again rose to the occasion while posting its 12th shutout of the season and eighth in the last nine games. Notre Dame now has allowed just five goals in 17 games, including just two in the last 1,158 minutes of action.
UConn-which ended a three-game losing streak versus the Irish-rode the emotion of “senior night” to produce the majority of the night’s quality scoring chances. Huskies senior forward Jen Carlson nearly scored in the closing moments of regulation, on a 20-yard shot that clanged off the near right post in the 87th minute. Carlson later launched a 30-yarder from the left flank that Wagner boxed away from the upper right corner with just two seconds left in the first overtime.
Notre Dame managed just three shots on goal, including strong chances in each overtime session. The first chance was set in motion by freshman forward Amanda Guertin’s rightside corner kick in the 100th minute, with Gonzalez redirecting the ball on a header before senior forward Meotis Erikson tried to volley a six-yarder over the goaltender’s head-but Maria Yatrakis reacted in time and tipped the shot over the crossbar.
Gonzalez then had a chance from close range in the 110th minute but failed to beat Yatrakis to the near right post. The hosts had the final shot on goal-with 0:46 left to play-on sophomore Sarah Popper’s try from the right side, with Wagner holding her ground for her eighth save.
The Huskies also hit the post in the first half, when junior Mary Beth-Bowie headed a free kick off the crossbar in the 23rd minute.
Notre Dame tried a variety of player combinations and formations throughout the night while trying to jumstart its offense, including a switch to a 3-4-3 in the final overtime as the Irish went for the win.
ND HEAD COACH RANDY WALDRUM: “I’m sure that this was a fun game to watch and both teams certainly had their chances. I think you saw tonight why Liz Wagner has to be considered for BIG EAST goalkeeper of the year. In a lot of our games this season, she hardly has touched the ball and it’s hard to appreciate her skill and leadership in that type of game. But every time she has been tested in a big game she has answered the bell for us. The way she has played for us-along with the play of an inexperienced defense that has battled through some injuries-have been invaluable to us this season. … This was the first game where we could not find the right combinations or formation, but much of that was due to UConn’s play. They were very strong tonight and their won-loss record is deceiving. This was a pretty wide-open game tonight and was enjoyable to watch for the fans. … This has been a tough stretch for us-with the travel and the injuries to key players-but we’ve had a number of players step in and do a great job. UConn has some injury problems as well and it’s certainly possible that we could see them again in a couple weeks, although there are teams in that BIG EAST Tournament that are capable of knocking off either one of us. … This game could prove to be a good lesson for us and we are looking forward to having some more spacing between games that comes with the postseason. Right now, the team needs some time-physically and mentally-to get refocused and rested. But it’s been a tremendous season. To have predicted that we would be 16-0-1 heading into the final regular-season game-with two starters missing a stretch of games-would have been a pretty bold statement heading into this season, but this team has shown great leadership and chemistry while playing with a lot of resiliency. It’s a special group and we are looking forward to the next few weeks.”
Notes: UConn became the first team this season to best ND in shots and shots on goals and is the second to attempt more corner kicks than the Irish (5-3, with Portland owning a 7-3 edge) … ND’s seven shots, three shots on goal and three CKs were well below the Irish season averages (25, 15, 7) … Wagner leads the nation with an 0.32 season goals-against average and has come up big in the five games this season vs. teams currently in the top 25-totaling 24 saves and just two goals allowed vs. Santa Clara, Stanford, Washington, Portland and UConn … ND now is 67-3-2 vs. BIG EAST teams since joining the conference in 1995 (UConn owns two of those losses and both ties) … ND’s team-record streak of 20 consecutive wins in regular-season play came to an end …Friday’s game was not an official part of the 2000 BIG EAST schedule (the teams have arranged to play every year, regardless of the formal league schedule) … a win Tuesday at Michigan would yield just the third undefeated regular season in the 13-year history of ND women’s soccer (the ’94 team went 17-0-1 while the `97 team went 18-0-1 in the regular season) … a shutout at Michigan would tie the ND record for fewest goals allowed during the regular season (the `97 team allowed five) … ND had allowed just 22 shots over the previous eight games before UConn’s 16-shot outburst … ND is 26-1-2 in its last 29 games … ND still has trailed just once all season, for 28 minutes vs. BC (representing 1.7% of the minutes played) … ND is 12-1-2 in its last 15 games away from Alumni Field … UConn’s 16 shots are easily the most allowed by ND this season (Portland had 11, with the season average in the first 16 games being 4 opponent shots per game) … UConn’s eight shots on goal also are an ND opponent season high (SCU had 7, the avg. was 2) … UConn (5) joined Portland (7) and Yale (4) as the third ND opponent with more than 3 CKs … Randy Waldrum’s first two ND’s teams have posted a 37-4-2 combined record (9-3-2 vs. NSCAA top-25 teams) … the Irish own an all-time record of 29-3-1 when playing as the No. 1 team (18-1-1 in the regular season) … Erikson has appeared in every game of her ND career and ranks 12th on the ND career games played list (93), one behind `97 graduate Cindy Daws … Friday marked just the third scoreless tie in ND history and the first in six seasons (also at Dayton in 1991 and vs. North Carolina in a `94 game played in St. Louis).
#1 Notre Dame (16-0-1) 0 0 0 0 – 0
#25 Connecticut (12-5-2) 0 0 0 0 – 0
Shots: ND 7, CONN 16.
Corner Kicks: ND 3, CONN 5.
Saves: ND 8 (Liz Wagner), CONN 3 (Maria Yatrakis).
Fouls: ND 13, CONN 13.
Offsides: ND 3, CONN 1.