Aug 17, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Exhibition matches are a lot like assignments you turned in during kindergarten class -- no actual grades involved, but more a sense of accomplishment and progress. Still, if Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum had to assess his team's performance on Saturday against No. 13 Baylor, chances are he'd put a sticker with a smiley face right at the top of the box score.
Junior defender Sammy Scofield (Geneva, Ill./Geneva) scored her second goal of the preseason in the 59th minute and sophomore midfielder Cari Roccaro (East Islip, N.Y./East Islip) added an insurance tally less than 13 minutes later as the 10th-ranked Fighting Irish defeated the Lady Bears, 2-0 on a sunny afternoon at the Notre Dame Practice Field.
Junior defender Taylor Schneider (Southlake, Texas/Carroll Senior) set up Scofield's goal, while junior forward Karin Simonian (Westbury, N.Y./W.T. Clarke) registered her third preseason assist with the helper on Roccaro's score.
Notre Dame (2-0-0 exhibition) finished with a 14-5 edge in total shots, including a 7-1 margin in the second half. The Fighting Irish also dominated in shots on goal (7-1; 5-0 in the second half), while corner kicks were even at 3-3, and fouls were nearly so (11-10 against Baylor).
It all helped support the successful debut of freshman goalkeeper Kaela Little (Tulsa, Okla./Bishop Kelley), who went the distance and made one save to record the shutout. Michelle Kloss played all 90 minutes in the Baylor goal, registering five stops.
"We did some good things out there today against a strong Baylor team that's going to give a lot of teams problems this year," Waldrum said. "I thought our possession was good, and the second half was particularly solid for us in terms of breaking them down and creating some good scoring chances.
"Sammy (Scofield) really came in with energy, intensity and focus, and that's what we need out of her each and every game," he added. "Kaela (Little) also had a nice game in goal and in general, our U-20s turned in some good efforts all the way around. On the other hand, playing a team like this does give you a chance to see some areas we need to work on, and there are many, which is what we'll be concentrating on during next week's training as we look ahead to the season opener against a strong Illinois team on Friday."
Roccaro was one of five Notre Dame players who did not play in Wednesday's exhibition match against Xavier, having arrived back on campus only a day earlier following a week-long stint at the U.S. Under-20 Women's National Team camp. In her first action of the season, Roccaro thought the Fighting Irish gave a solid account of themselves.
"We've got some rough patches to work out, and a few of us are still getting settled working with those players that have already been here for a week or more," she said. "Still, we competed hard and stayed poised against a good physical and direct team like Baylor. It was good for our younger players to get a game like this under their belts, and I think a lot of them rose to the challenge and did some good things. Now, it's time to get back to work and continue to improve each day at practice with Illinois coming in next week."
The first half started slowly, with Notre Dame maintaining a sizeable possession advantage, but not having much to show for it. The Fighting Irish did get off three shots in the first eight minutes, including one on frame, while the best of the bunch was a drive from freshman midfielder Morgan Andrews (Milford, N.H./Milford) that whistled over the bar.
Baylor (0-1-0 exhibition) would come back with a pair of shots and a corner kick in the next 15 minutes, none of which seriously threatened Little or the Notre Dame cage.
The match picked up after the half-hour mark, with the Fighting Irish logging two more shots inside the box, one of which was blocked and the other stopped easily by Kloss. Notre Dame then had two of its best looks of the opening half in the closing moments, first when Andrews drove a cross from the right side that junior forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita) headed just over the bar (38:40).
After Baylor registered its lone shot on goal of the day (Natalie Huggins' 15-yard drive from the left side of the box that went directly to Little), Andrews came back in the final minute of the half with another right-side cross that deflected through traffic in front and sophomore forward Crystal Thomas (Elgin, Ill./Wheaton Academy) just missed wide on a short-range try at the back post.
The intensity picked up in the second half, as both teams committed three fouls in the opening 12 minutes. However, Notre Dame was clearly on the front foot to start the half, and the last Baylor foul of that early stretch would ultimately lead to the hosts' first goal of the day.
Andrews' service again found its way into the mixer on the edge of the six-yard box, with Schneider trying a quick shot that deflected off a defender, right to Scofield on the right edge. She wasted little time in hammering a shot back across the grain into the far left-side netting and the Fighting Irish were on the board (58:36).
"That first goal really got us energized and raised our confidence even more," Roccaro said. "We had been putting the pressure on them and it was nice to see it pay off."
Notre Dame nearly got another goal two minutes later, as sophomore forward Anna Maria Gilbertson (Davis, Calif./Davis) unleashed a wicked rising shot that was ticketed for the underside of the crossbar, only to be tipped over the frame by a leaping Kloss. Off the ensuing corner kick, Scofield latched on to another loose ball near the penalty spot, but her bid for the right post was denied by a diving Kloss.
Andrews and her classmate, forward Kaleigh Olmsted (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands) caused a world of trouble for Baylor during the next 10 minutes, with the Lady Bear defense frantically trying to clear its lines at every opportunity. Yet, the Fighting Irish won another corner kick (the last of their three in the second half) and cashed in with the critical insurance goal, as Roccaro went high to nod in Simonian's service from the flag (71:11).
The Notre Dame back line stood fast the rest of the way, holding Baylor to a corner kick and Justine Hovden's harmless shot from outside the top of the box that hopped wide of the left post, while completing the victory.
"We've gotten some good minutes from a lot of different people this preseason," Waldrum said. "These games definitely served their purpose in that we were able to try some different combinations and put some people in some different roles against two strong opponents. As our younger players continue to get a better grasp of our system and the level of intensity that comes with playing at the college level, we have the potential to do some good things."
Notre Dame will open the 2013 regular season with a five-match homestand, beginning at 5:30 p.m. (ET) Friday when it welcomes Illinois at Alumni Stadium. The Fighting Illini, who are receiving votes in the preseason National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll, return seven starters from last year's club that reached the second round of the NCAA Championship.
Season 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.
#10 Notre Dame 2, #13 Baylor 0 (exhibition)
Baylor 0 0 -- 0
Total Shots: BU 5 (4-1), ND 14 (7-7)
-- Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director