Sept. 5, 2008
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Senior All-America forward Brittany Bock (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) scored less than six minutes into the second half and No. 5/4 Notre Dame withstood a late challenge for a 1-0 win over No. 3/2 North Carolina on Friday in the opening round of the Carolina Classic at Fetzer Field. The Irish now have won three of their four games against the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill, including each of their past two visits, following last year's 3-2 victory in the NCAA Championship round of 16.
While UNC outshot Notre Dame, 10-9, Notre Dame held a 6-3 edge in shots on goal and limited the Tar Heels to one shot on goal in the second half (although they had six total shots in the period). The Irish also held a slim 5-4 advantage in corner kicks, while North Carolina was whistled for 12 fouls and Notre Dame was called for 11 infractions. Each team also picked up two yellow cards during the physical contest that, at times, had the feel of a postseason game, despite persistent rain that was a precursor to Tropical Storm Hanna (scheduled to roll through the North Carolina capital region overnight).
"We're very pleased with this win and especially happy with the play of our defense," Irish head coach Randy Waldrum said. "We kept our shape well and didn't get flustered when they made their run at us after our goal in the second half. I was particularly impressed with the way (freshman defender) Jessica Schuveiller and (junior midfielder) Courtney Rosen managed the game and kept their composure in some tough situations. But, we need to remember that this is just one game and we have another tough one coming up on Sunday (against Duke)."
Bock's goal was her first of the season (and 41st of her career), and was a combination of sustained Notre Dame pressure and some fortunate timing. Sophomore forward Taylor Knaack (Arlington, Texas/Martin) played a through-ball that sprang senior All-America forward Kerri Hanks (Allen, Texas/Allen) on a breakaway down the center channel, but Hanks was met just outside the top of the box by UNC goalkeeper Anna Rodenbough, who seemingly played the ball out of danger. However, after a deflection, the ball ended up at Bock's feet on the right wing in front of the Irish bench, where the Hermann Trophy candidate took one dribble and with the look of a precision bomber, delivered a curling 30-yard shot that arced over a furiously backpedaling Rodenbough and disappeared into the upper left corner of the net at 50:21.
"Brittany made a really intelligent play after she saw the `keeper off her line," Waldrum said. "From the angle we were at, we could tell it was going to be trouble right away and it just kept going right into the net."
Junior goalkeeper Kelsey Lysander (San Diego, Calif./Rancho Bernardo) was able to profit from yet another steady performance by the Notre Dame defense, making three saves to record her second consecutive solo shutout. As a team, the Irish have opened the season with four consecutive shutouts for the second time in school history, and the first time since 1995.
Notre Dame (4-0-0) controlled the offensive flow for much of the first half, putting all four of their shots on goal in the period. Junior forward Michele Weissenhofer (Naperville, Ill./Neuqua Valley) got the first good look of the night for the Irish with 10 minutes gone, slashing to the middle of the penalty area and squeezing off a right-footed shot that Rodenbough saved. Freshman forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) made a number of probing runs through the Tar Heel defense on Friday, with her most fruitful foray coming at 25:42 of the first half, when she cut past a UNC defender at the left edge of the box and ripped a 12-yard shot that was destined for the far-right netting before Rodenbough parried the ball around the post.
Senior midfielder Rebecca Mendoza (Garland, Texas/North Garland) also got behind the North Carolina defense in the 39th minute, running on to a Rosen chip and then trying to lob one over an on-rushing Rodenbough, only to be denied by the veteran Tar Heel netminder.
UNC (3-1-0) had a pair of shots on goal in the first half, both coming from Casey Nogueira, who fired a 22-yard shot on frame at 30:42 and drilled a daisy-cutter through the wet grass at 13:57, but Lysander stood her ground and kept the hosts off the board.
Notre Dame kept up its pressure in the early stages of the second half, as Hanks got loose in the offensive third just three minutes into the period, only to have her left-footed shot from 15 yards out sail wide of the left post. Bock's score came a little more than two minutes later, and while the Irish didn't know it at the time, that would be their final shot on goal of the game.
North Carolina came back with a vengeance after Notre Dame took the lead, as Nogueira had a peek from near the top of the box, but her shot was blocked by the Irish defense (55:05). Merritt Mathias ventured into the Notre Dame defensive third at 67:28, but her left-footed shot from the left side of the area drifted wide left. Nikki Washington took a turn on goal with a little more than 19 minutes to go, cranking up a laser from 22 yards out that just missed high and wide right.
The Tar Heels' aggressiveness nearly caught up with them at the 77-minute mark, as Hanks got by the UNC defense on a counterattack and tried a 20-yard chip from the right side that sailed over Rodenbough's outstretched hand, but clipped the underside of the crossbar and bounced back into play.
North Carolina turned up the heat one final time down the stretch, with Meghan Klingenberg parking at the edge of the six-yard box and just nodding a cross high and wide right with less than three minutes to go. The Tar Heels also had a pair of corner kicks in the waning moments, but it wasn't until Nogueira's final shot of the night went off-target with 22 seconds left that the Irish victory finally was assured.
Notre Dame gets back on the pitch at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday when it takes on No. 12/11 Duke on the second day of the Carolina Classic. The Blue Devils defeated Kentucky, 3-1 in Friday's other opening-night contest.
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame becomes the first team ever to post multiple shutouts over North Carolina at Fetzer Field, having also blanked the Tar Heels, 1-0, in the 1995 NCAA national semifinal game (on a Cindy Parlow own-goal) ... UNC has been shut out at home seven times since it began play in 1979, and only five times by Division I college programs -- Notre Dame, twice (1995 and 2008), South Carolina (1-0 in 2007), Santa Clara (1-0 in OT in 2004 NCAA round of 16), Duke (0-0 tie in 2002), Virginia Select (4-0 in 1980) and McLean Grasshoppers (4-0 in 1979) ... the Irish now are 4-9-2 all-time against UNC, joining Santa Clara (4-14) as the only two programs ever to record multiple wins over North Carolina ... Notre Dame is 3-1 all-time against UNC in Chapel Hill and 5-1 all-time at Fetzer Field (also 1-0 3OT win over Portland in 1995 NCAA final; 3-0 vs. Duke on Sept. 11, 1998, ironically also in the Carolina Classic) ... the Irish and Santa Clara are the only two programs to post back-to-back series wins over North Carolina and Notre Dame is the only school to do it more than once (1995-96 and 2007-08) ... Notre Dame's defense continues to be rock-solid thus far in 2008, limiting its four opponents to only 23 total shots, including just eight shots on goal (2.0 per game) ... Lysander came into this season with two solo shutouts, but she has doubled that total in the past two games with clean sheets against No. 21/12 Santa Clara and No. 3/2 North Carolina (while also splitting shutouts in the season's first two games against Michigan and Loyola Marymount) ... Bock is the eighth different goalscorer for the Irish through four games this year.