Aug. 22, 2014
Shaking off an early Illinois goal in the 23rd minute, No. 16/11 Notre Dame struck back for three unanswered scores to secure a 3-1 victory over the Illini on a rainy Friday afternoon at the Illinois Soccer Stadium in the first match of the 2014 regular season.
The come from behind victory marked the first Fighting Irish (1-0-0) rally on opening day since the program's first-ever game on Sept. 1, 1988, a 5-1 win over IU-South Bend at the now-razed Moose Krause Stadium. Notre Dame head coach Theresa Romagnolo also became the third mentor in team history to win a debut match, joining Dennis Grace (1988) and Chris Petrucelli (1990).
"I'm really proud of the effort," Romagnolo said. "The mentality that you saw from the team, to go down a goal and come back, was huge for us. We just played a very good team in Illinois, and to come to their place opening game and to find a way to win was a huge result for us to start the season."
Notre Dame dominated the run of play early in the contest, controlling the tempo for much of the opening 25 minutes of the first half. Senior forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita) attempted the first Fighting Irish shot of the season, carving an attempt at the Illinois net that was turned away by goalkeeper Michelle Denley (0-1) in the fifth minute. Sophomore midfielder Morgan Andrews (Milford, N.H./Milford), junior forward Anna Maria Gilbertson (Davis, Calif./Davis) and junior tri-captain Cari Roccaro (East Islip, N.Y./East Islip) each followed with chances over the next 15 minutes, but were unable to break through against the Illini defense.
No. RV/NR Illinois (0-1-0) need only its first chance to find the scoreboard in the 22nd minute, drawing a corner kick in the Notre Dame end. Abby Elinsky cashed in a header fed from Jannelle Flaws at 22:01, giving the hosts a 1-0 lead.
The Fighting Irish battled back later in the half, as Andrews started a run up the middle of the field that caught the Illinois defense on its heels. The 2013 Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) Freshman of the Year threaded a perfect through ball to freshman midfielder Taylor Klawunder (Coto de Caza, Calif./Santa Margarita), who finished a strike from the right flank into the left corner of the net to square the match at 1-1 at 39:18.
"I thought Taylor came in and did a fantastic job," Romagnolo said. "She gives us depth in the midfield and her ability to play make, defend and contend for aerial balls is huge for us. Her goal was fantastic, being in the right place at the right time, and being aggressive in going toward goal."
Klawunder became just the fifth freshman in team history (the first since Amanda Cinalli against Baylor in 2004) to tally the first Fighting Irish goal of a season. The Notre Dame newcomer was thrilled for the opportunity to contribute in her Fighting Irish debut, and did so quickly after entering as a substitute in the 32nd minute.
"I was just really excited to play my first official college game and I wanted to bring a lot of energy out there," Klawunder said. "I tried my best and scored a goal, so it was awesome. I was really excited. I saw the run and knew Morgan was taking on the defenders. She drew the players out and I was wide open. (In that close) I had to shoot it, so I did."
"The momentum shifted a lot with us tying it up," Klawunder added. "We tied it up, and we wanted to get another to win."
It would not take long for the go-ahead goal to follow. Following the resumption of play after the goal, Notre Dame was able to gain a corner kick after battling for possession near the goal line in the Illinois end. Junior defender Brittany Von Rueden (Mequon, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels) lofted a perfect serve into the box for a waiting Katie Naughton (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Elk Grove), and the junior tri-captain headed home the game-winning goal at 41:47.
In less than three minutes of game play, the momentum completely swung into the favor of Notre Dame, an edge that the Fighting Irish carried into halftime.
"Katie is great on set pieces, and we have a lot of height this year and people who can be dangerous," Romagnolo said. "It was timing by her, a great ball in from B on the serve, all-around it was a great play."
The scoring play for Naughton capped a whirlwind week that began with a quarterfinal defeat as a member of the United States Under-20 Women's National Team at the U-20 Women's World Cup last Saturday. Naughton and Roccaro, who each played every minute of the four-game U.S. run in the tournament, returned to training with their Notre Dame teammates on Wednesday.
The late surge in the first stanza carried over for the Fighting Irish into the second half, with crisp possessions at all ends of the pitch keeping Illinois out of attacking positions. Both teams traded a pair of shots in the first 20 minutes of period number two before Gilbertson settled a ball on the run into the Illini zone, blasting a shot from 25 yards out that sailed just wide to the right.
Gilbertson would not be denied the next time she had a chance pushing the pace in the Illinois end, crushing a right-footed blast from the flank past frozen Illini goalkeeper Claire Wheatley at 74:17 to extend the Notre Dame lead to 3-1.
Illinois appeared to claw back to within one goal in the 85th minute, as a skillful volley in tight found its way past Fighting Irish sophomore keeper Kaela Little (Tulsa, Okla./Bishop Kelley) during a scrum in front of the goal. After a brief conference, the officials determined that Little (1-0) had been inadvertently fouled during the course of the play, waiving off the goal. Notre Dame controlled possession for much of the final five minutes to ice the victory.
With the first win of 2014 under its belt, Notre Dame now shifts its focus back to campus and Alumni Stadium. The Fighting Irish kick off the regular season home slate on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. (ET) against Oakland, with live video coverage available through WatchND.tv and the WatchND app.
"We're really pleased heading into Oakland on Sunday," Romagnolo said. "To go on the road against a very good team that made it to the Sweet Sixteen last year and put up three goals on them is a great result for us."
To purchase a season pass or single-match tickets for the 2014 Notre Dame women's soccer season, call the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office at (574) 631-7356, visit the official Notre Dame athletics ticketing web site, UND.com/tickets or stop by the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office windows during normal business hours (9 a.m.-5 p.m. ET Monday through Friday). Tickets also can be purchased at Alumni Stadium on match days.
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 3, Illinois 1
Notre Dame 2 1 - 3
Illinois 1 0 -- 1
ILL 1. Abby Elinsky 1 (Jannelle Flaws, Hope D'Addario) 22:01. ND 1. Taylor Klawunder 1 (Morgan Andrews) 39:18. ND 2. Katie Naughton 1 (Brittany Von Rueden) 41:47. ND 3. Anna Maria Gilbertson 1 (-) 74:17.
Total Shots: ND 12 (8-4), ILL 6 (4-2)