Freshman forward Anna Maria Gilbertson scored her first career goals and unofficially factored into three other scores as Notre Dame rolled past East Carolina, 5-0 on Sunday afternoon at Alumni Stadium.
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Notre Dame used a balanced offensive attack and consistent pressure to register a dominant 5-0 win over East Carolina in its home opener on Sunday afternoon at Alumni Stadium. The Fighting Irish had five different goal scorers and seven separate point scorers, with three players netting the first goals of their respective careers, as Notre Dame posted its second shutout in three days.
Junior forward Rebecca Twining (Houston, Texas/Second Baptist School) scored the eventual match-winning goal with 10 minutes to go in first half, before the Fighting Irish swamped the Pirates with four goals in a little more than 25 minutes during the second half. Freshman forwards Crystal Thomas (Elgin, Ill./Wheaton Academy) and Anna Maria Gilbertson (Davis, Calif./Davis), and sophomore midfielder Karin Simonian (Westbury, N.Y./W.T. Clarke) each opened their college scoring accounts on Sunday (Gilbertson factored into four of the five scores, with temporary defensive deflections the only thing preventing her from earning two assists, and she was fouled to set up a free kick score), while sophomore forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita) added her first goal of 2012.
What's more, a pair of freshmen -- midfielder Glory Williams (Dallas, Texas/Lake Highlands) and defender Brittany Von Rueden (Mequon, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels) -- were credited with second-half assists, logging the first points of their brief college careers.
Freshman goalkeeper Elyse Hight (Edmond, Okla./Bishop McGuinness) worked the first 74:04 between the pipes for the Fighting Irish, making three saves. Sophomore Sarah Voigt (Middleburg, Fla./St. John's Country Day School) came on to spell Hight in the final quarter-hour and had one save. ECU netminder Christiane Cordero went the distance for the Pirates, making seven saves.
Notre Dame (2-1) finished with a 31-12 edge in total shots, including a 12-4 margin in shots on goal. The Fighting Irish also earned a 6-2 advantage in corner kicks, while fouls were virtually even (9-7 against ECU).
"It was another good win for us today," Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. "We created a lot of great scoring chances and put away several of them. It was also good to see several players getting their first goals, to see some good overall balance on offense and to be able to get so many (nine) of our freshmen some meaningful playing time. On the other hand, we probably should have done better with a few other chances we had, and there were some pockets early in both halves where we weren't very sharp. That's when they got the majority of their shots, so we need to clean that up and get better with our consistency. All in all, it was a good weekend for us, and something we can build on as the season moves forward."
After East Carolina (1-2) registered the first shot of the match in opening 100 seconds (a try on frame from the right side by Lexi Miller that Hight smothered fairly easily), it was one-way traffic toward the Pirates' goal for the Notre Dame attackers during the remainder of the first half, as the Fighting Irish squeezed off 16 shots, including six on goal following ECU's lone attempt.
Notre Dame needed a bit more than the first half-hour to break down the East Carolina defense, but eventually the Pirates' retaining line frayed. Gilbertson started the opening goal sequence by switching the point of attack from left to right, finding Bohaboy at the edge of the area, but her shot was blocked out for a corner kick. On the ensuing try from the flag, the initial service was poked out by an ECU defender, but it caromed directly to Twining near the top of the box. The Fighting Irish veteran quickly settled the ball before driving a right-footed shot low inside the left post past a diving Cordero (34:42).
With a slim, though justified 1-0 lead at halftime, Notre Dame then had to weather an early second-half push by East Carolina, as the Pirates recorded half their afternoon shot total (six) in the first 10 minutes after the break. The biggest ECU threat came less than three minutes into the second half, when Danielle Romano lifted a shot from just outside the top of the box that twisted a bit in a tailwind and forced Hight to quickly retreat as the ball pinged off the connector between the crossbar and right post before deflecting off the Fighting Irish goalkeeper and over the by-line for a corner kick. Caty Butler then got her shot off from the corner kick, but her header sailed over the top.
Notre Dame nearly added its second goal in the 51st minute, as sophomore defender/midfielder Taylor Schneider (Southlake, Texas/Carroll Senior) found Twining with a right-side service into the area. Twining couldn't shake loose from her defender and the ball popped loose to Thomas near the penalty spot, but the rookie's bid for the far left corner was denied by Cordero, who managed to get enough of the shot to slow it down and then got help from her retreating defense to sweep it away from the goalmouth before Twining and Thomas could pounce on the rebound.
Just as it seemed East Carolina was building a bit of confidence from its early second-half showing, the Fighting Irish got their all-important second goal and took the wind right out of the Pirates' sails. Williams collected the ball just inside the circle at midfield and chipped the ECU backline, with the serve hanging up slightly in the headwind. Thomas read the pass well and got to it just before an onrushing Cordero, chopping the ball free from the Pirate goalkeeper near the spot. With Cordero now out of position, Thomas was all alone and walked the ball into the net for her first career goal (58:02).
From that point, it was once again all Notre Dame, as the hosts maintained the run of play for large stretches in the remaining half-hour and steadily added to their lead. Bohaboy was the first to make her mark, capitalizing after Gilbertson was hauled down just outside the top left corner of the box. Bohaboy then stepped up and calmly curled the free kick inside the left post as Cordero scrambled to her right and dove in vain to make the stop (65:18).
Gilbertson was again in the mix on the fourth Fighting Irish goal, collecting a precision right-side service from Von Rueden after the rookie back pushed up well through the channel. After settling the cross, Gilbertson turned quickly over her left shoulder and snapped a wicked right-footed shot past Cordero (72:40).
As it turned out, Gilbertson had one more card left to play in the 84th minute. The first-year striker gathered in a loose ball in the left channel 25 yards from goal, drove towards the top of the box and then whipped a cross into the area. Thomas and an ECU defender met the ball almost simultaneously, with the rebound coming off the defender to an alert Simonian, who pushed it on to her left foot before driving a rising shot that clipped the bottom of the crossbar before settling over the line (83:17).
Notre Dame will be back in action at 7:30 p.m. (ET) Friday when it plays host to No. 25/21 Santa Clara on the first night of the 20th annual adidas Invitational at Alumni Stadium. Connecticut will take on No. 14/19 North Carolina in the tournament opener at 5 p.m. (ET) before the opponents switch on Sept. 2 -- UConn meets Santa Clara at 11 a.m. (ET), followed by Notre Dame and North Carolina at 1:30 p.m. (ET). Both Fighting Irish matches will be webcast live and free of charge through the official Notre Dame athletics web site, UND.com.
To purchase a season pass or single-match tickets for the 2012 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 (@NDsoccer or @NDsoccernews), like them 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.
-- ND --
POST-MATCH NOTES: Notre Dame's five separate goal scorers are the most for the Fighting Irish in a single match since Aug. 22, 2008, when they tied a Randy Waldrum era record with seven goal scorers in a 7-0 win over Michigan at old Alumni Field ... that 2008 Michigan match also was the last time Notre Dame had three players score their first career goals in the same contest -- Melissa Henderson, Taylor Knaack and Ellen Jantsch, with Henderson and Jantsch being freshmen and Knaack playing her first career match after missing her rookie season with a knee injury ... Bohaboy was the last Notre Dame player to net her first college goal in any match, doing so on Sept. 18, 2011, in a 4-1 win at Cincinnati ... the seven different point scorers are the most for Notre Dame in one match since Sept. 2, 2011, when eight players had a point in a 7-1 win over Tulsa at Alumni Stadium ... Bohaboy's 10 shots are the most by a Fighting Irish player in a single match since Oct. 8, 2010, when Henderson took 11 shots in a 2-1 win over Seton Hall at Alumni Stadium ... Notre Dame improves to 12-1-1 (.893) in home openers during the Waldrum era (1999-present) ... the Fighting Irish posted their seventh consecutive shutout in a home opener (2006-12), and extended their scoreless streak in home openers to 661:00, dating back to Sept. 2, 2005, and a goal by Florida's Jasmine Johnson with exactly 11 minutes left in a 4-1 Notre Dame win at old Alumni Field on the first night of the adidas Invitational (then known as the Inn at Saint Mary's Classic) ... the Fighting Irish raise their record against first-time visitors to campus to 56-4-1 (.926) since 1993, with ECU being the first new opponent to come to South Bend since Nov. 12, 2010, when Notre Dame defeated New Mexico, 3-0 in the first round of the NCAA Championship at Alumni Stadium ... the Fighting Irish now are 7-3 (.700) all-time against current Conference USA schools, including a 5-0 record at home with a 24-3 aggregate scoring margin in those five matches ... Notre Dame continues its remarkable historical success in two areas -- taking a 2-0 lead (now 334-0-1 all-time; 311 consecutive wins since a 3-3 draw with Vanderbilt on Sept. 15, 1991, in Cincinnati) and scoring three goals in a match (304-3-1 all-time; 206-1 since Oct. 6, 1995).