Sept. 10, 2017
By Megan Golden
TOLEDO, Ohio -- The University of Notre Dame women's soccer team (4-2-2) won its fourth straight Sunday match, topping Toledo (2-4-1) 4-0 on Sunday at Scott Park.
For the second time this season, the Irish, playing in front of a packed Toledo crowd, bounced back from a double-overtime loss with a dominant second-half offensive showing and a victory.
How It Happened
Notre Dame opened the match with several powerful shots, highlighted by sophomore Natalie Jacobs' shot off the crossbar in the eighth minute of play. Jacobs and Westendorf strung together consecutive shots in the early minutes, but Toledo's defense escaped unharmed.
Senior Ginny McGowan and junior Rachel Heard each got many touches on the ball, and McGowan occasionally brought the ball up through the midfield during the game.
Junior Shannon Hendricks played high in the left back position -- up near the midfield -- for the majority of the game, pushing the ball up the left side of the field. Hendricks took two of Notre Dame's corner kicks from the left side, placing them beautifully amongst Irish players in the box, but the offense was unable to capitalize in the first half.
For the fifth time in eight games this season, the Irish entered the second half in a scoreless tie.
The momentum shifted rapidly in the second half, when Notre Dame's offense scored back-to-back goals within the first four minutes of the period.
In the 48th minute, graduate student Sandra Yu opened the scoring with a double assist from Jacobs and senior Meghan Doyle. Just seven seconds later, the Irish drew the foul, and Westendorf scored on a rocket of a free kick from just outside the box.
A 2-0 lead did not slow down the Irish, which utilized senior Paige Crowley, junior Ann Marie Niro, sophomore Samantha Zepponi, and freshmen Erin Ospeck and Jenna Winebrenner, as they continued attacking the net.
Jacobs added to Notre Dame's lead with her fifth goal of the season in the 64th minute, picking up the rebound from Westendorf's shot and giving Notre Dame a 3-0 lead.
Nearly one minute later, Yu tacked on her second goal of the day and third of the season, putting the Irish up 4-0.
Notre Dame's season-high-tying four goals proved to be too much for the Rockets, which fell 4-0 in Notre Dame's fourth shutout of the season.
With the win, Notre Dame concludes its non-conference slate with a 4-2-2 mark.
Note of the Match
Following this afternoon's victory, the Irish are 4-0 in four Sunday afternoon games so far this season. Notre Dame has outscored its opposition 14-1 in those contests.
Coach Romagnolo Said...
On the team's performance in the second half...
"We haven't seen a game like this where the team dropped off so much and gave us so much time with the ball. We needed to connect more passes in the second half. We looked more comfortable opening up in pockets. I thought the midfield did a great job moving off the ball for each other. They were able to move up the middle and swing it out to the side. They were just playing. The first half, they were almost uncomfortable with how much time they had. The second half, they started moving into good pockets and capitalized on great chances."
On the defensive wings playing up...
"We were trying to bring them up with us to create more space for our midfielders to get the ball. We kept turning the ball over, so we didn't have a chance to get our shape. We created good pockets for ourselves."
On the team's mindset heading into its match against Clemson...
"Get rested, keep improving and focus on what we want to do in ACC play."
- The Irish recorded a 4-2-2 record in non-conference play this season, just one year after going 5-1-2.
- The Irish own a 4-0 record all-time and are 1-0 on the road against the Rockets.
- Notre Dame is 2-1 on the road and 2-1-1 away from home this season.
- Notre Dame's four goals equaled a season-high. The Irish also tallied four goals against Ball State (4-0) and Santa Clara (4-1).
- Sophomore Natalie Jacobs scored her team-high fifth goal of the season in the second half.
- Sophomore Samantha Zepponi and freshman Jenna Winebrenner played in their second career matches, respectively. Senior Paige Crowley appeared in her first match of the season.
- Sophomore goalkeeper Brooke Littman collected one save in the match, giving her 27 saves on the season.
Notre Dame is scheduled to travel to No. 4 Clemson for its first match in Atlantic Coast Conference play. The Irish and the Tigers will square off at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday at Riggs Field (Clemson, S.C.).
For behind-the-scenes coverage of the Irish women's soccer program, follow @NDSoccer on Twitter and @NDWSoccer on Instagram. For tickets to a Notre Dame women's soccer match, click here.
Megan Golden, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since August of 2016. In her role, she coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women's soccer and cross country/track and field programs. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Golden is a 2014 graduate of Saint Mary's College and former Irish women's basketball manager. Prior to arriving at Notre Dame, she worked in public relations with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox.