Sept. 15, 2013
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Although the North Carolina campus is more than 700 miles southeast of South Bend, you can't blame Notre Dame for considering Chapel Hill its home away from home.
Freshman midfielder Morgan Andrews (Milford, N.H./Milford) headed in a cross from sophomore defender Brittany Von Rueden (Mequon, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels) midway through the first half to provide the only scoring as No. 8 Notre Dame toppled No. 1 (and previously-unbeaten) North Carolina, 1-0, on Sunday afternoon before a crowd of 3,742 fans at Fetzer Field.
Playing UNC for the first time as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, the Fighting Irish (6-1-0, 2-0-0 ACC) earned their sixth all-time win over the Tar Heels, the most for any team against North Carolina in its history. Notre Dame also improves to 5-2 all-time against UNC in Chapel Hill, winning for the fourth time in its last five matches against the Tar Heels at Fetzer Field (dating back to 2007).
In addition, the Fighting Irish registered the fifth win in program history against a top-ranked opponent, and their first since Dec. 5, 2010, when they ousted Stanford, 1-0, in Cary, N.C., to win their third national championship. What's more, Notre Dame picked up its first regular-season win over a No. 1-ranked team since Oct. 4, 1996, when they collected a 2-1 overtime victory over North Carolina in Durham, N.C.
Freshman goalkeeper Kaela Little (Tulsa, Okla./Bishop Kelley) anchored a rock-solid Fighting Irish defense on Sunday, making five saves to record her third career shutout. Senior defender/tri-captain Elizabeth Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) also was credited with a defensive save late in the first half to preserve Notre Dame's clean sheet.
North Carolina (7-1-0, 1-1-0 ACC) finished with an 18-5 edge in total shots, including a 6-2 margin in shots on goal and a 4-1 advantage on corner kicks. The Tar Heels also hit the woodwork in the second half, with Crystal Dunn's strike in the 62nd minute was tipped off the underside of the crossbar by Little, then captured by the Fighting Irish netminder near the goal line.
"It was classic Notre Dame-Carolina," Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. "Every time we play one another, it's going to be a hard-fought, physical match that's probably going to come down to one or two plays, and that's exactly what happened today. I thought we handled the moment much better than the first time we played a ranked team (Sept. 1, a 1-0 loss to No. 4/2 UCLA), and executed the way we're capable of.
"We looked very strong in the first half, particularly in the midfield, and did a great job of putting them under some pressure," he added. "Morgan's goal and Brittany's service were top shelf and it certainly gave our team an added lift and the confidence we needed to weather the storm in the second half."
One of the keys to Sunday's win was the strong defense provided by sophomore midfielder Cari Roccaro (East Islip, N.Y./East Islip) on Dunn, who was not only last year's Hermann Trophy recipient, but also has spent time with both the full U.S. Women's National Team and the U.S. Under-20 National Team, playing alongside Roccaro and Notre Dame senior midfielder/tri-captain Mandy Laddish (Lee's Summit, Mo./Lee's Summit) on the latter squad that won the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup in Japan.
As it turned out, Dunn did end up with seven shots on Sunday, including four of her team's six tries on goal. However, Roccaro worked well with the Fighting Irish back line to keep many of those tries on the perimeter and out of prime scoring territory.
"Crystal is a tremendous player and her accomplishments speak for themselves," Roccaro said. "Having been a teammate of hers on the U-20s, I know what she can do and it was definitely going to force me to raise my game. I'm just glad I was able to contribute and help us get a big conference win on the road."
"I thought Cari was the player of the match, no question about it," Waldrum said. "The work she put in to track Crystal was exceptional. Our center backs, Katie (sophomore tri-captain Katie Naughton) and Sammy (junior Sammy Scofield), also played a very strong game for us, and Kaela (Little) had another solid day in goal. It was great to see so many young players coming along and developing in a hostile environment, especially one that only a handful of them had every played in before."
After both teams needed a few minutes to settle in, Notre Dame nearly came up with an early score in the 13th minute, as junior forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita) pressured UNC defender Megan Brigman into a soft backpass at the top of the area. However, Tar Heel goalkeeper Bryane Heaberlin came off her line and just beat Bohaboy to the loose ball, sweeping away the danger with a clear to the touch line.
The Fighting Irish would get the day's lone goal in the 22nd minute, again thanks to pressure in the attacking third. The sequence started with Andrews' thru-ball to Bohaboy, which was cleared by UNC back Hanna Gardner over the near sideline. After a quick give-and-go with Laddish on the ensuing throw-in, Von Rueden found herself with a small crease in the right corner. She alertly snapped a service to the heart of the box, where Andrews elevated high over her mark to drive a sharp header into the low right-side netting for her fourth goal of the season (21:55).
North Carolina tried to answer quickly, as Dunn made several probing runs down the flanks, but her crosses and shots came from tight angles and Little paired well with her defense to lessen those threats.
However, Dunn also created one of UNC's best chances of the first half in the 31st minute, intercepting a pass at midfield and streaking 35 yards down the middle of the pitch before she was fouled at the edge of the penalty area. Joanna Boyles then stepped up to take the dangerous free kick, but curled her try over the bar, magnifying her miss by earning a yellow card seconds later.
The Tar Heels had the last solid opportunity of the first half with just 90 seconds left, as their second corner kick of the period sailed to the far post and was played back into the mixer in the goal mouth. Gardner got an initial shot off, but it was blocked, and Caroline Lindquist tried to reload, but Tucker stayed planted firmly on the goal line and was able to head the shot out of harm's way.
"Defense, especially on set pieces, is about everyone doing their job and being positioned correctly," Tucker said. "I was just where I was taught to be and when then you see the shot coming in, you do the instinctual thing and clear it out any way you can, so that's what I did."
The second half belonged largely to North Carolina, as the Tar Heels put Notre Dame under some of the strongest pressure it has seen all season. Yet, the Fighting Irish defense never wavered, with the best look for UNC in the opening quarter-hour of the period coming in the 52nd minute, when Dunn drove a 20-yard shot from the left side that Little tracked well and smothered with a dive towards the left post.
Notre Dame looked to double its lead in the 59th minute, as Andrews curled a well-weighted pass behind the Tar Heel defense for junior forward Karin Simonian (Westbury, N.Y./W.T. Clarke) on a run down the right channel. Simonian was able to find room on the right side of the box, but her bid for the far left post drifted wide of the mark.
Just three minutes later, Dunn had her brush with the equalizer carom off the bottom of the crossbar near the goal line. Despite a brief protest by some UNC players, coaches and fans, play continued and the call of "no goal" stood, as did Notre Dame's tenuous 1-0 lead.
The Tar Heels' scoring threats lessened slightly in the final 15 minutes, as the Fighting Irish defense continued its stand, but Dunn did create promising chances on a cross in the 82nd minute (knocked down by Little) and 89th minute (through pass on right side for Kealia Ohai resulted in shot going wide). Gardner then had her team's final bid for the tying goal with 30 seconds left, but her shot from near the top of the box skipped harmlessly off-target.
Notre Dame plays its first ACC home match at 7 p.m. (ET) Thursday against fellow league newcomer Syracuse at Alumni Stadium. The match will be streamed live through the Notre Dame multimedia platform, WatchND.
Season and single-match tickets for the 2013 Notre Dame women's soccer campaign 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 Notre Dame women's soccer program, follow the Fighting Irish on Twitter (@NDsoccernews and @NDsoccer), 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.
#8 Notre Dame 1, #1 North Carolina 0
Notre Dame 1 - 0 - 1
Total Shots: ND 5 (2-3), UNC 18 (7-11)
-- Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director