Sept. 18, 2011
CINCINNATI - Senior All-America forward and Hermann Trophy candidate Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) posted her second hat trick of the season and fifth of her stellar career, leading No. 12/14 Notre Dame to a clinical 4-1 BIG EAST Conference win at Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon before a sellout crowd of 1,400 fans at Gettler Stadium.
Henderson netted two goals less than nine minutes apart midway through the first half after the Fighting Irish spotted the Bearcats an early lead. She then completed her three-goal day with a key insurance score in the 65th minute. Freshman forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita) opened her goal-scoring account with a tally in the final three minutes, while sophomore midfielder Elizabeth Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) dished out two assists.
Notre Dame (4-4-1, 1-1-0 BIG EAST) stayed on the front foot for much of Sunday's matinee, outshooting Cincinnati by a 29-12 margin, including a 16-3 spread in the second half. The Fighting Irish also more than doubled up the Bearcats in shots on goal, 14-6, while UC had a slim 7-6 edge in corner kicks (with six of the hosts' tries from the flag coming in the first 10 minutes of play).
Junior goalkeeper Maddie Fox (San Jose, Calif./Leigh) matched her career high with five saves for the third consecutive outing. Kristina Utley went the distance in the Cincinnati goal, tying a Notre Dame opponent season-high with 10 saves.
"It's hard not to be pleased with our performance today, especially once we settled down after the first 10 minutes," Fighting Irish head coach Randy Waldrum said. "We moved the ball very well, which can be tricky on an artificial turf field like this one. Our possession was crisp, we created a lot of good chances, and we made the most of them. I also thought our younger players like Lauren (Bohaboy) and (freshman forward) Karin Simonian gave us some really good minutes. This was a good win for us, and now we'll look to build on some of the confidence we got from today's effort."
Coming off its first regular-season conference loss in nearly six years, Notre Dame had a bit of a chip on its shoulder as it entered Sunday's match. However, it was Cincinnati, bolstered by the largest women's soccer crowd in stadium history, that had the early advantage, pushing forward and earning those six early corner kicks. The Fighting Irish dodged the first five bullets, but the last in the chamber would nick them, as Kelli Pawelko's service from the right corner connected with Megan Cravenor just outside the six-yard box, and the Bearcat midfielder nodded it home for her first career goal at 9:53.
After giving up the first goal of the match for the fifth time in six outings, Notre Dame found a renewed focus and determination, taking over the possession game shortly after falling behind and the Fighting Irish would never look back.
The offensive onslaught began in the 18th minute, as junior defender Jazmin Hall (Highland Village, Texas/Marcus) tracked down a ball in the left channel and lofted a cross into the heart of the penalty area. Utley came off her line to grab the ball, but before she could, Henderson flashed in from the right wing, cutting in front of the UC goalkeeper and re-directing the pass into the vacated net (17:05) for her 60th career goal.
Less than nine minutes later, Notre Dame took the lead for good, and again Henderson was at center stage. Tucker latched on to a pass at the top of the attacking third and swung a pass out wide on the right side for sophomore defender Kecia Morway (Lake Villa, Ill./Lakes Community), who made a well-timed run down the flank. Morway quickly whipped a cross towards the near post, where Henderson got by her mark with an angled run and volleyed the pass in from close range by a helpless Utley (25:45).
With a tenuous one-goal lead at halftime, the Fighting Irish set about putting all doubts to rest in the second period, controlling the tempo right from the opening kickoff. Henderson capped a flurry of Notre Dame scoring chances with her third goal of the day at 64:29, taking a delicate through-pass from Simonian (Westbury, N.Y./W.T. Clarke) who was parked at the top of the arc outside the area. Henderson widened her run through the area, and from a tight angle on the right side, she calmly fired a rising shot over Utley, who had come racing off her line.
Tucker then delivered her second assist of the afternoon in the closing moments, driving down the left wing before barely running out of real estate at the by-line. Just before doing so, she chopped a left-footed cross towards the near post, where Bohaboy was waiting and simply volleyed the pass into the net from three yards out (87:58).
It will be a short turnaround for Notre Dame, as the Fighting Irish head back on the road next weekend, beginning Thursday with a 7 p.m. (ET) match at South Florida, with Fox Soccer Channel set to televise the contest live from USF Soccer Stadium in Tampa as part of its National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) Match of the Week package. Notre Dame then travels to Milwaukee on Sept. 25 for a 1 p.m. CT (2 p.m. ET) contest with No. 8/9 Marquette.
Live stats and a live interactive chat for both matches 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: Notre Dame picks up its first road win of the season ... the Fighting Irish are unbeaten in 22 of their last 24 matches on Sunday (19-2-3), as well as posting a 38-4-4 (.870) record on Sundays since September 2007 (when they lost three consecutive Sunday matches, all by 2-1 scores to nationally-ranked opponents Stanford, Oklahoma State and Penn State, with the first two going to overtime) ... the Fighting Irish continue to pepper opposing nets of late, having piled up 165 shots in their last six matches (27.5 per contest), including 65 shots on goal in that span (10.8 per match) ... Notre Dame is 12-1-1 all-time against Cincinnati (59-10 aggregate scoring margin), including a 5-0-1 record against the Bearcats in the Queen City and an 8-0-0 record (34-3 aggregate) against UC since the Bearcats joined the BIG EAST in 2005 -- the Fighting Irish also have scored at least three goals in seven of those eight matches against Cincinnati under the BIG EAST banner ... Henderson is the fifth Notre Dame player to record five career hat tricks, joining Kerri Hanks (6), Jenny Heft (6), Monica Gerardo (5) and Rosella Guerrero (5) ... this is the second three-goal match for Henderson at Cincinnati's Gettler Stadium, having also netted a hat trick on the Bearcats' home pitch on Sept. 28, 2008 (a 6-0 Fighting Irish win) ... Henderson moves into sole possession of sixth place on Notre Dame's career goals list with 62, passing 1996 Hermann Trophy recipient Cindy Daws (61 from 1993-96) ... Henderson now has 143 career points (61G-21A), moving her past Guerrero (142 from 1992-95) into 11th place on the Fighting Irish all-time list ... Henderson potted her 21st career match-winning goal (second all-time behind Hanks' 23), and 51st career match-winning point (21G-9A), tying for third all-time in that category with Jenny Streiffer (1996-99) ... Notre Dame rises to 39-1-3 all-time when Henderson scores a goal, and 48-1-3 all-time when she registers a point ... in addition to Bohaboy tallying her first career goal, Simonian earned her first career point with the assist on Henderson's third score ... Morway collected her first assist of the year, and second of her career after delivering a helper on Nov. 12, 2010, in Notre Dame's 3-0 win over New Mexico in the first round of the NCAA Championship at Alumni Stadium ... Hall picked up her third career assist, and first since Nov. 1, 2009 (vs. USF in the BIG EAST Championship quarterfinals at Alumni Stadium) ... Tucker's two assists give her three this season, matching her total from her entire rookie campaign (9G-3A) -- it's also the first two-assist match of her career.