Sept. 9, 2011
STANFORD, Calif. - Senior All-America forward and Hermann Trophy candidate Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) put Notre Dame ahead off assists from sophomore midfielder Mandy Laddish (Lee's Summit, Mo./Lee's Summit) and senior midfielder/tri-captain Courtney Barg (Plano, Texas/Plano West) in the 67th minute, but No. 2 Stanford rallied with two goals in the final 10 minutes, including Mariah Nogueira's match-winner with 2:23 left, to pull out a 2-1 victory at the Stanford Invitational before a sellout crowd of 1,960 fans on Friday night at Cagan Stadium in Stanford, Calif.
All three Fighting Irish losses this season have come away from home at the hands of top-10 opponents, following a 2-1 overtime setback at then-No. 3 North Carolina on Aug. 26, and a 3-1 loss to then-No. 10 Duke two days later in Chapel Hill, N.C. In all three of those defeats, Notre Dame (3-3-0) led or was tied well into the second half before the opposition came up with its winning scores, either late in regulation or in extra time.
Nogueira's decisive header on Friday night came off a corner kick by Lindsay Taylor, after Taylor herself netted the equalizer with 9:20 remaining in regulation. As it turned out, those were half of Stanford's four shots on goal in the match, with Notre Dame owning a decided 11-4 advantage in that category. The Cardinal wound up with a slim 22-21 overall shot edge for the evening, after the Fighting Irish had the upper hand in that department until those fateful final 10 minutes.
Stanford (5-0-1) held its biggest advantage in corner kicks, 12-3, while the fouls were virtually even on the night (4-3 to Notre Dame).
Freshman goalkeeper Sarah Voigt (Middleburg, Fla./St. John's Country Day School) was credited with two saves for the Fighting Irish. Stanford's starting netminder Emily Oliver recorded seven saves in the first 66-plus minutes, but was injured while chasing Henderson's goal and was replaced. Her understudy, Aly Gleason worked the final 23:55 and registered three saves to earn the rare relief victory.
"It's disappointing to finish like that after we played so well up to that point," Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. "Take nothing away from Stanford -- they didn't back down when they fell behind and they were able to get the result. But we've got to do better when it comes to closing out games, and that's everyone's responsibility. Whether it's upperclassmen or freshmen, when your number is called, you need to come out and perform. We didn't do that for a full 90 minutes tonight and we paid the price for it."
The main storyline heading into Friday's match was the replay of last year's national championship contest, won by Notre Dame, 1-0. Stanford made clear its intention to avenge that loss and with a frenzied sellout crowd on hand, the Cardinal came out with guns blazing in the opening 10 minutes. However, the Fighting Irish were prepared for the onslaught and held their ground well, having faced a similar fired-up opponent in North Carolina only two weeks earlier in front of a crowd nearly three times as large as Friday's contingent.
After weathering the early storm (which yielded a handful of shots, but none on frame), Notre Dame did some attacking of its own, as Laddish and sophomore forward Adriana Leon (Maple, Ontario/The Country Day School) offered some testing shots that drifted wide of the Stanford cage.
Henderson finally registered the first shot on goal of the night for either side in the 29th minute with a low drive on the damp grass from the top left of the penalty area that skipped in on Oliver. Laddish then had the best chance of the first half for either side, cranking up a drive from the top of the box that forced Oliver to leap high and tip over the bar with less than 15 minutes to go in the period.
Moments later, a steady rain began to fall as thunderstorms (rare for the San Francisco Bay Area) crept across the Bay from the east and eventually encroached behind the newly-completed east grandstand at Cagan Stadium. With lightning picking up in intensity and moving closer to the pitch, play was suspended with 1:07 left in the first half, halting the match for 49 minutes while the teams and fans scurried for cover.
The skies would clear and action resumed as the first half ended with no further threats. Following an abbreviated halftime, the second stanza got underway with another Stanford offensive push. Teresa Noyola got free behind the Fighting Irish defense in the 52nd minute and had a 1-v-1 chance on Voigt from 10 yards out, but the rookie goalkeeper was equal to the task with one of the best stops of her young career, diving to her right to parry the shot wide of the left post.
That save seemed to energize the Notre Dame offense, and it almost paid off immediately, as Henderson raced onto to a misplayed Stanford clearance and had her own breakaway look on goal. Yet, in a near replay of Voigt's stop, Oliver went full extension to her right and was able to get enough of Henderson's shot to keep it out of harm's way.
The ebb and flow of the match then tipped back to the Cardinal, who thought they had a goal at the hour-mark but Taylor was flagged for offsides well before her shot found the back of the net. Less than four minutes later, Sydney Payne drilled a shot from the left edge of the box that was deflected out of play for a corner kick. On that ensuing try from the flag, Nogueira's header was ticketed for the left side of the goal, but senior defender Molly Campbell (Mission Hills, Kan./St. Teresa's Academy) held fast at the left post and was able to head the ball out of danger.
Notre Dame finally broke the ice at 66:05, starting with a tremendous bit of hustle from sophomore midfielder Elizabeth Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny), who tracked down a ball on the far right flank and then battled her defender to earn a corner kick. From the flag, the Fighting Irish played a short corner which ended up on Laddish's left foot about 30 yards out from goal in the right channel. She served a pinpoint ball into the heart of the area, where Henderson perfectly timed her run and was unmarked, driving a header from eight yards out into the upper right corner of the net past a backpedaling Oliver, who crashed into the right goal post.
Following the score (and the subsequent `keeper change), the teams traded prime scoring chances, as Taylor had a pair of shots on frame (one that landed on the roof of the goal), while Notre Dame nearly doubled its lead in the 72nd minute, thanks to a nifty display of passing in the left channel and a well-weighted cross from Henderson that was headed just wide of the left post by senior midfielder Ellen Jantsch (Kansas City, Mo./St. Teresa's Academy).
Stanford then stepped on the gas with eight shots in the final 10 minutes, beginning with Taylor's equalizer at 80:40. Marjani Hing-Glover played a ball from the center channel to Taylor on the right side and she quickly whipped a curling 25-yard shot that was headed for the right post and tucked back inside past a diving Voigt.
The Cardinal continued to apply pressure, although Note Dame did have a good look on goal in the 85th minute when Leon was the beneficiary of another team passing with a drive from the top of the box that ended up going right to Gleason.
Stanford's match-winning score started with a blue-collar effort from Camille Levin, who came up from her right back spot to muscle her way down to the byline and eventually earn a corner kick. That would prove critical, as Taylor sent a ball into the heart of the area, where Nogueira outjumped her defender and snapped a header into the right side of the net with 2:23 left.
The Fighting Irish had one final chance to get their own equalizer less than 30 seconds later, as Laddish picked off a poor Stanford clearance at the top of the attacking third. She then weaved through traffic before hammering a low shot that was destined for the inside of the left post, but Gleason stretched to the limit and managed to push the shot wide.
Notre Dame will aim to get back on the winning track Sunday when it travels to No. 17/18 Santa Clara for a 2:30 p.m. (ET)/11:30 a.m. (PT) match at Buck Shaw Stadium. Technically, the contest will be part of the Stanford Invitational, although it will be played on the Broncos' home pitch. Sunday's matinee also will be the fourth time the Fighting Irish have faced a ranked opponent in their first seven matches this season, with all four coming away from home.
Live stats and a live interactive chat for the match with Santa Clara will be available on the official Fighting Irish athletics web site, www.UND.com and the new Irish UNDerground blog (www.UND.com/blog).
For more information on the Notre Dame women's soccer program, join the Fighting Irish women's soccer news Twitter page (@NDsoccernews) or sign up for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the sidebar on the women's soccer page at UND.com.
POST MATCH NOTES: For the first time in 236 matches (and only the second time in the 13-year Randy Waldrum era), Notre Dame lost after holding a lead with less than 10 minutes remaining -- the last time that happened was Waldrum's debut match as Fighting Irish head coach on Sept. 3, 1999, at old Alumni Field, a 3-2 double-overtime loss to North Carolina when Notre Dame held a 2-1 lead before the Tar Heels scored the equalizer with 2:56 left in regulation and netted the match-winner 24 minutes into what was then a 30-minute extra time period (two 15-minute halves) ... Notre Dame is 229-2-6 (.979) in the Waldrum era (1999-present) when it leads with less than 10 minutes remaining ... Friday's loss snapped Notre Dame's 40-match unbeaten streak when Henderson scores a goal (now 38-1-2) and 49-match unbeaten run when she notches a point (now 47-1-2) ... Henderson did move into sole possession of 12th place on the Fighting Irish career points list with 137 (58G-21A), passing current U.S. Women's National Team midfielder and two-time FIFA World Cup All-Star Shannon Boxx ('99) ... Henderson is two goals shy of becoming the seventh player in school history to net 60 career goals -- three of Notre Dame's six career 60-goal scorers earned the Hermann Trophy at some point during their careers (2006/2008 recipient Kerri Hanks - 84G; 2000 recipient Anne Makinen - 65G; 1996 recipient Cindy Daws - 61G) ... the Fighting Irish had a match suspended by weather for the first time since Sept. 2, 2007, when they waited out a 4:30 rain delay at Florida before defeating the Gators, 2-0 ... Notre Dame still holds a narrow 7-6-1 edge in the all-time series with Stanford (four of the past five decided by one goal), although the Cardinal have won all three matches played on their home pitch ... the Fighting Irish are 19-7-1 all-time against the current Pac-12 Conference alignment, but 2-4 when playing a Pac-12 school on its campus.