Nov. 19, 1999
Reserve sophomore midfielder Mia Sarkesian scored the game?s only goal in the 81st minute to send the fifth-ranked and BIG EAST champion Notre Dame women’s soccer team into the NCAA championship quarterfinals with a 1-0 win over eighth-ranked and Pacific-10 champion Stanford on Friday night at Alumni Field. Sarkesian blasted a loose ball just outside the left corner of the box into the upper right corner for her third goal of the season. The Cardinal had a chance to tie the game just 1:18 later but senior midfielder Ronnie Fair?s penalty kick hit off the left post and then off the right post before the Irish cleared the ball out of the box. Notre Dame improves to 20-3-0 with the win and advances to the quarterfinals against the winner of Sunday?s game between fourth-seeded Nebraska and Texas A&M. Stanford ends it season with a 15-5-1 record.
Notre Dame senior All-American defender Jen Grubb served a free kick from the left endline to the near post that senior Jenny Heft could not control on the line. The Cardinal booted the ball out of the box but Sarkesian controlled the ball just outside the left side of the box. She then fired a shot at 80:18 into the upper right corner for the game-winning goal for just her third goal of the season. Sarkesian also scored Notre Dame?s second goal against North Carolina and the fifth goal against Seton Hall in the BIG EAST championship semifinals.
?It was off a free kick and the ball rebounded out to me,? said Sarkesian. ?I just took a touch and saw a hole in the right side of the goal. I hit it there and fortunately it went in.?
Stanford?s penalty kick was set up by a hand ball called on the Irish in front of the net from eight yards off a Stanford cross from the right sideline. Fair shot the penalty kick towards the lower left corner as Irish senior All-American goalkeeper LaKeysia Beene went left but could not get to the ball. The shot bounced off the post, went sharply to the right post and then went five yards out before being swept off the line.
?Maybe it was luck of the Irish,? Stanford head coach Steve Swanson said of the penalty kick. ?Ronnie has scored so many goals from free kicks. It was one of those things that happens. It was maybe a millimeter off. What can you do??
?I?ve seen the ball bounce off of two posts on a shot before but not on a penalty kick,? said Irish head coach Randy Waldrum. ?That?s a first for me and I?ve been in it a long time. We had some luck go on our way on that one.?
Both teams had a number of chances in the first half but both goalkeepers came up with saves. Cardinal senior forward Kelly Adamson had a shot cleared off the line by freshman defender Vanessa Pruzinsky in the 15th minute and had a header from eight yards out towards the upper right corner stopped by a diving Beene in the 28th minute. Heft nearly connected on a through ball from freshman Nancy Mikacenic in the 24th minute but Cardinal junior goalkeeper Carly Smolak came out to smother the ball just at the top of the box. Irish freshman Ashley Dryer blasted a loose ball in the box from eight yards out in the 33rd minute but Smolak was there to block the ball. Smolak finished with six saves, while Beene had four.
?LaKeysia early in the game made some great saves to keep us in it,? said Waldrum. ?They were kind of complacent to drop off of us and let us come out at them and then try to counter us and were effective at it. Those are the type of games you hope LaKeysia comes up big so it was good to see her come through and keep us in things early on and throughout the game, because we haven?t given her a lot of help in many games this year.?
?I thought we made it awfully difficult for them to get behind us,? said Swanson. ?They are very talented and have a lot of technical players. We did what we wanted to do and defended very well as a team. Individually, they did some good things but we were always there to cover and balance one another. They were pressing us very hard the whole second half so it wasn?t like they didn?t deserve but it certainly would have been an interesting game if we would have hit the penalty kick.?
The Irish finished with a 15-9 advantage in shots, including an 8-4 edge in the second half. Notre Dame had nine corner kicks to six for Stanford. The Cardinal were whistled for 19 fouls to 11 for the Irish.