Aug 30, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- With the way the Notre Dame women's soccer team has been clicking offensively, about the only way the Fighting Irish could be slowed in Friday's match against Oakland was a lightning delay.
Junior forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita) had a goal and an assist, and sophomore forward Crystal Thomas (Elgin, Ill./Wheaton Academy) delivered her second consecutive two-assist outing as No. 7/4 Notre Dame earned a methodical 4-0 victory over Oakland before a crowd of 1,836 fans at Alumni Stadium on the opening night of the 21st annual Notre Dame adidas Invitational.
It was the third consecutive four-goal match for the Fighting Irish (3-0-0), the first time they have recorded a run of such consistent offensive production since Oct. 9-30, 2005, when they scored at least four goals in six consecutive contests.
Bohaboy not only scored a goal for the third match in a row (giving her a team-high four on the season), but she also started the Fighting Irish scoring for the third consecutive contest, with all three opening goals coming in the first five minutes of play. Bohaboy's lidlifter against Oakland came after just 2:06, courtesy of Thomas' first assist.
Junior forward Karin Simonian (Westbury, N.Y./W.T. Clarke) and freshman midfielder Morgan Andrews (Milford, N.H./Milford) added their first goals of the season (and for Andrews, her initial college score) early in the second half, and sophomore forward Anna Maria Gilbertson (Davis, Calif./Davis) capped the Notre Dame scoring output with her second goal of the year in the 69th minute, slightly more than two minutes after the teams returned from the locker room following a 35-minute lightning delay.
Freshman goalkeeper Kaela Little (Tulsa, Okla./Bishop Kelley) capitalized on the bounty of offensive production in front of her, making it stand up with four saves, including a brilliant diving stop on Serena San Cartier's mini-breakaway in the final minute, for her first career shutout.
Notre Dame finished with a 19-9 shot advantage, including an 11-4 margin in shots on goal. Each side attempted one corner kick, while the Fighting Irish nearly doubled up the Golden Grizzlies in the foul column (13-7), and both teams had a player receive a yellow card in the second half.
Much as it did in last year's 3-0 loss to Notre Dame at Alumni Stadium, Oakland (1-2-0) tried to adopt a defensive stance against the Fighting Irish, preferring to put nine and sometimes 10 players behind the ball and take their chances on the counterattack. As a result, OU goalkeeper Payj O'Shea found herself in the crosshairs much of the evening, registering seven saves and earning some additional help from the woodwork.
"This was a challenging game for us in a number of different ways, from the style they were playing to the weather delay and the heat," Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. "I thought our players dealt with those challenges pretty well and remained composed even when they could have gotten frustrated that things weren't completely clicking in spots or our momentum got checked a little by the delay.
"Lauren (Bohaboy) just continues to play at a very high level and everyone is feeding off of that," he added. "We're showing creativity in the offensive third and even when the connections were sometimes off, we still developed several strong scoring chances throughout the game and the margin probably could have been even more if a couple of those shots were an inch or two either way."
After finishing her rookie year as Notre Dame's top goalscorer (10), Thomas has been doing the heavy lifting as a playmaker lately, having now doubled her assist total from all of last year (2). She set up Bohaboy's opening salvo with a determined run to the right end line before cutting a pass back into the box for the Fighting Irish striker. Bohaboy then shook free of her mark with a quick move and fired high into the upper left side netting (2:06), making her the first Notre Dame player with four goals after three matches since 2008, when Kerri Hanks did likewise.
Oakland's lone solid bid of the first half came just a minute after Bohaboy's goal, as Kyla Kellerman located enough space at the edge of the penalty area to drive a shot that Little dove to tip wide of the right post.
Notre Dame continually probed the Golden Grizzlies' defense, with the visitors electing to play a higher line and challenge the Fighting Irish to time their runs correctly. In the first half, that strategy paid off for Oakland, as Notre Dame was flagged for six offsides calls and kept the margin at 1-0 in spite of the sizeable edge in possession time the Fighting Irish enjoyed in the period.
As the second half opened, a steady light rain began to fall at Alumni Stadium, but it didn't dampen Notre Dame chances. Just as the Fighting Irish did in the first period, they needed a bit more than two minutes to unlock the Oakland defense, and once again, Thomas was front and center. This time, she set out on a breakneck run down the right flank before snapping a sharp low cross through the heart of the area. The pass found Simonian all alone at the left edge of the six-yard box and she made no mistake, hammering home her one-time shot at 47:34.
Bohaboy turned from goal scorer to goal creator a few minutes later, prying a ball loose in the deep left corner and sneaking by her mark on the end line. She then poked a pass towards the goalmouth, and Andrews found a seam to meet the service, hitting her shot first-time through traffic into the net as she collided with an OU defender (54:30).
"I was so glad to finally break the ice," Andrews said. "It's really all because of my teammates anyway, and what's most important is we got the win, but hopefully this can be a good start of things to come."
"I was also so happy to see Morgan get that first goal (of her career) and Kaela (Little) get her first shutout," Waldrum said. "They've both been working so hard in practice and I'm glad they were rewarded for the work they've put in."
Thomas nearly collected a third assist in the 57th minute with a well-shaped ball that curled behind the Golden Grizzlies' backline and found Simonian on the run, but O'Shea came smartly off her line to get a piece of the Fighting Irish attacker's shot and temporarily prevent further damage.
Notre Dame's downhill charge to the Oakland net was stunted at 66:21 when lightning was spotted within a 10-mile radius of the stadium, sending both teams to their dressing rooms for a bit more than a half hour. When they returned, it took the Fighting Irish all of two minutes to end any suspense or hope of a Golden Grizzly comeback.
Senior midfielder/tri-captain Mandy Laddish (Lee's Summit, Mo./Lee's Summit) was the catalyst, picking up a ball at midfield and threading the needle perfectly between the Oakland defenders to spring Gilbertson alone on goal. O'Shea tried in vain to come out and cut down the angle at the top of the box, but Gilbertson calmly rounded the goalkeeper and then tucked her left-footed shot into the vacated net (68:28).
Gilbertson almost picked up a brace in the 85th minute with another darting run, courtesy of sophomore forward Mary Schwappach (Denver, Colo./Mullen), who dropped a beautiful delicate through-pass into the left channel. Gilbertson's blast from the top left of the box then beat a diving O'Shea, but couldn't solve the right post, clanging hard off the frame.
The Fighting Irish return to action at 1:30 p.m. (ET) Sunday, playing host to No. 4/2 UCLA at Alumni Stadium in the championship match of the Notre Dame adidas Invitational. The Bruins won the tournament's early match on Friday afternoon, edging No. 20/25 Marquette, 2-1 (MU will play Oakland in Sunday's consolation match at 11 a.m. ET).
Season and single-match tickets 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.
#7/4 Notre Dame 4, Oakland 0
Oakland 0 0 -- 0
Total Shots: OU 9 (2-7), ND 19 (7-12)
-- Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director