Aug 14, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- On the day it officially sported the colors of the Atlantic Coast Conference for the first time, it seemed appropriate No. 10 Notre Dame would kick off against a team from its former home, the BIG EAST Conference. It also was fitting that the Fighting Irish treated new BIG EAST member Xavier much like it treated every other BIG EAST opponent during its 18-year tenure in that conference -- rudely.
Sophomore forward Anna Maria Gilbertson (Davis, Calif./Davis) scored twice, junior forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita) had a goal and an assist, and junior forward Karin Simonian (Westbury, N.Y./W.T. Clarke) dished out a pair of assists as Notre Dame blew past the Musketeers, 5-1, on a sun-splashed Wednesday afternoon before approximately 200 fans at the Notre Dame Practice Field.
Senior midfielder Elizabeth Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) and junior defender Sammy Scofield (Geneva, Ill./Geneva) also scored goals for the Fighting Irish, who were the first Notre Dame team in action on the 2013-14 athletics calendar. Thus, women's soccer became the first Fighting Irish program to officially compete as a member of the ACC, which the University joined on July 1. Prior to that move, Notre Dame had competed in the BIG EAST, winning nearly 91 percent of its regular-season conference matches from 1995-2012.
Tori Doss put Xavier on the board early in the first of the three-period match (30-minute sessions), but it was the lone bright spot for the visiting Musketeers.
Wednesday's victory pleased Fighting Irish head coach Randy Waldrum, who elected not to use his five United States Under-20 National Team players, who had arrived on campus just a day earlier after participating in the U-20 National Team camp Aug. 4-11 in Carson, Calif.
"This was a good first step for us," the 15th-year skipper said. "Anna Maria (Gilbertson) really made the most of her chances out there, and Lauren (Bohaboy) came back this preseason with a noticeable improvement in her strength and confidence and it showed today. Karin (Simonian) also created a number of good scoring opportunities for us, and we got some solid performances from several of our freshmen, including Kaleigh Olmsted, Rilka Noel, Sandra Yu and Cindy Pineda."
As one of the few veterans on a Notre Dame roster that features 19 freshmen and sophomores, Tucker thought her young teammates showed a great deal of promise in their first competitive action of 2013.
"Our mental toughness and focus were tested a little when we gave up that first goal," she said. "I think we did a good job of putting that behind us and getting back to our style of play. Once we did that, we were able to wear them down and began creating more and more scoring chances, and ultimately those paid off."
Notre Dame finished with a 24-6 edge in total shots, including an 8-3 margin in shots on goal. The Fighting Irish also earned all four corner kicks in the match, while fouls were virtually even (8-5 against Xavier). Junior Sarah Voigt (Middleburg, Fla./St. John's Country Day School) went the distance in the Notre Dame net, making two saves, while XU split its goalkeeping duties between veteran Katie Markesbery (three saves, four goals allowed in 60 minutes) and rookie Rachel Piccus (zero saves, one goal allowed in 30 minutes).
The first exhibition match of the season is always a dicey proposition, as coaches experiment with lineups and formations in an effort to see which combinations click best. It also means having to deal with some of the bumps in the road that come with new faces on the pitch, especially those getting their first taste of college soccer.
So it came as little surprise that with its somewhat makeshift lineup, and missing five key contributors, Notre Dame found itself in an early hole after 13 minutes. Doss worked a sharp give-and-go with Erin McGauley at the top of the attacking third, and the Xavier freshman finished with a 15-yard shot inside the right post just out of the reach of a diving Voigt (12:28).
That would be the Musketeers' last shot until the final minute of the first period, when Ashton Green directed a harmless long-distance shot on frame. In the interim, Simonian made it her personal mission to slash through the XU defense, ringing up four shots in a 10-minute span midway through the stanza, including a golden short-range opportunity that sailed over the bar off a Gilbertson cross in the 22nd minute.
However, Simonian, who scored 11 goals during the summer with her Women's Premier Soccer League (WPSL) club, the Long Island Fury, saw her persistence rewarded on Notre Dame's first goal in a sequence that began with Bohaboy in the right channel, flicking a ball ahead to Simonian, who in turn found Gilbertson slicing down the right edge of the box. Gilbertson then ripped a 12-yard shot to the short side that found just enough space between Markesbery and the post to draw the teams level (26:48).
Waldrum made a handful of lineup changes for the second 30-minute period and it didn't take long for one of those moves to pay off. Just 100 seconds into the stanza, one of the Fighting Irish rookie midfielders, Yu (Strongsville, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) deftly worked a combination play with Bohaboy, sending her junior teammate past a pair of Xavier defenders for a clean look at a 10-yard shot that easily beat Piccus and Notre Dame was in front to stay.
"It was important for us to get that early goal in the second period," Waldrum said. "I thought we played too passively in the first 30 minutes and I liked the way we came out after the first break with more intensity and a better attacking mentality."
The Fighting Irish would keep that mindset for the balance of the second frame, outshooting Xavier, 7-0 in the period, including several prime set-piece opportunities that just missed the mark. Along with Yu, Olmsted and Noel also stood out for Notre Dame in the middle stanza, with Olmsted (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands) constantly pestering the Musketeer back line with her speed and possession work, while Noel (West Bloomfield, Mich./Marian) showed poise and ingenuity in the midfield, working well in an apprentice role alongside senior Mandy Laddish (Lee's Summit, Mo./Lee's Summit).
The third period proved to more of the same for the Fighting Irish, who kept Xavier on the back foot while bringing their offensive game to a peak with eight shots (five on goal) in the final 30 minutes. XU did get its third and last shot on frame in the 70th minute on Green's bid from the top right of the penalty area that Voigt tracked all the way.
From there, it was a downhill surge for Notre Dame toward the Musketeer goal, starting at the 73:08 mark, when Tucker gathered in Simonian's deflected shot at the top left corner of the box and quickly drilled a daisy-cutter inside the far right post to double the Fighting Irish advantage.
Four minutes later, Gilbertson used her speed and instincts to end Xavier's hopes for good, picking off a soft backpass at the edge of the 18' and slotting home her second goal of the afternoon (77:12).
Notre Dame closed out the scoring in the 81st minute, as Scofield found herself in the right place at the right time, latching on to the ball as it ricocheted through the six-yard box after a corner kick and hammering it through the crowd into the back of the net (80:22).
"We'll go back and break down the film of this game and see what we can build on," Waldrum said. "We're not a finished product by any means, but I don't think any team in the country can say that on August 14. We've got a couple of days of training ahead of us and a chance to get our U-20 players blended back into the fold before we see Baylor on Saturday and that should be another great preseason test."
Notre Dame's second and final exhibition is set for 1 p.m. (ET) Saturday, when the Fighting Irish play host to 13th-ranked Baylor at the Notre Dame Practice Field (east of Eck Baseball Stadium). Admission is free to the general public, with fans asked to park in the Gold Lot adjacent to Eck Stadium and follow the service road behind the left-field wall to the practice field entrance.
Notre Dame then opens the 2013 regular season with a five-match homestand, starting at 5:30 p.m. (ET) Aug. 23 against Illinois at Alumni Stadium.
Ticket packages for the 2013 Notre Dame women's soccer season may be purchased through the University's Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office by calling (574) 631-7356 or visiting the ticket windows at Gate 9 of Purcell Pavilion weekdays from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET). Tickets also can be ordered on-line 24 hours a day with a major credit card through the official Notre Dame athletics ticketing web site, UND.com/tickets. Groups wishing to attend Fighting Irish soccer matches also can receive a discounted ticket rate -- contact Rita Baxter in the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office to learn more.
For more information on the Fighting Irish women's soccer program, follow Notre Dame on Twitter (@NDsoccernews or @NDsoccer), like the Fighting Irish on Facebook (facebook.com/NDWomenSoccer) or sign up for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the "Fan Center" pulldown menu on the main page at UND.com.
Notre Dame 5, Xavier 1 (exhibition)
Xavier 1 0 0 -- 1
XU 1. Tori Doss 1 (Erin McGauley) 12:28. ND 1. Anna Maria Gilbertson 1 Karin Simonian, Lauren Bohaboy) 26:48. ND 2. Bohaboy 1 Sandra Yu) 31:40. ND 3. Elizabeth Tucker 1 (Simonian) 73:08. ND 4. Gilbertson 2 (-) 77:12. ND 5. Sammy Scofield 1 (-) 80:22.
Total Shots: XU 6 (3-0-3), ND 24 (9-7-8)