Irish Drop Tight Contest to No. 12 Santa Clara, 3-2

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team (4-4) battled another top-15 team on the road Sunday when they faced No. 12 Santa Clara (6-1). Jennifer Westendorf and Sammi Fisher both scored in the second half but the Irish comeback fell short and they dropped Sunday’s match 3-2 to the Broncos.

How it Happened

Not much action occurred to start the game as both teams spent most of their possession in the middle of the field. The Broncos had a few shot opportunities early on but the Irish defense blocked a number of them away from goal.

In the 30th minute, Jade Gosar had great positioning and blocked the shot from DB Pridham. The ball deflected off to the left and Maria Sanchez was first to the ball and slotted home the first goal of the match for the Broncos.

After heading into the half trailing 1-0, the Irish did not have a deficit for long as they made the most of the first opportunity in the second half.

Just two minutes into the half, Westendorf was the first to a loose ball just outside of the Irish box. She quickly curled a shot towards the left post and past the keeper to tie the game at 1-1. It was Westendorf’s second goal of the season and 18th of her career.

Shortly after, the Broncos regained the lead off of a second chance opportunity. Brooke Littman made a great save on Skylar Smith’s shot but the ball bounced right back to Smith and she scored.

Santa Clara added to their lead in the 58th minute following the goal from Kelsey Turnbow. She made a run into the box, made a move back to the middle and beat Littman to make it 3-1 Broncos.

The Irish were not out of it and brought the game within one in the 73rd minute. Following a blocked shot by Rachel Heard, the Irish quickly got the ball into the attacking third and Fisher scored her team-leading third goal of the year. She fired a rocket from 25 yards out to the top right corner to beat the keeper and it was 3-2 Broncos with less than 20 minutes remaining.

In the waning minutes, the Irish pushed forward in hopes of getting the equalizer and send the match into extra time. Westendorf brought the ball into the box on the right side and set up for another curled shot but a Bronco defender deflected it away. Fisher got to the rebound on the other side and sent a low shot towards the near post. Melissa Lowder was able to make the save and secured the win for the Broncos.

Coming Up Next

The Irish will return to campus to kick off ACC play next weekend against No. 13 NC State. Sunday’s match with the Wolfpack will begin at 1 pm ET and be aired on the ACC Network Extra.

For behind-the-scenes coverage of the Irish women’s soccer program, follow @NDSoccer on Twitter and @NDWSoccer on Instagram. For tickets to a Notre Dame women’s soccer match, click here.

–ND–Matt Paras, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since January 2018. In his role, he coordinates all media efforts for Notre Dame women’s soccer, baseball and assists in ice hockey. A native of Warwick, Rhode Island, Paras is a graduate of the University of Louisville where he completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Sport Administration. Prior to arriving at Notre Dame, he worked at Vanderbilt University as the sports information contact for the women’s soccer and lacrosse programs.