Sept. 26, 2013
Sophomore forward and Long Island native Cari Roccaro (East Islip, N.Y./East Islip) registered her first career hat trick, with the final goal set up by fellow Islander Karin Simonian (Westbury, N.Y./W.T. Clarke), as No. 5/3 Notre Dame rolled to a 5-0 win over No. 21/22 Maryland in Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) action on Thursday night at Alumni Stadium.
Roccaro's hat trick was the first by a Fighting Irish player since Oct. 21, 2011, when Melissa Henderson tied the school record with four goals in a home win over DePaul. It also was the first for Notre Dame against a ranked opponent since Nov. 24, 2006, when Michele Weissenhofer scored three times in a 4-0 win over No. 8 Penn State in the NCAA Championship quarterfinals at old Alumni Field. The last regular-season hat trick by a Notre Dame player against a Top 25 team occurred on Sept. 5, 2004, when Katie Thorlakson had three goals and two assists in a 5-2 victory over fourth-ranked Santa Clara, also at old Alumni Field.
In addition, Thursday's five-goal outburst was Notre Dame's largest against a ranked opponent in exactly three years, dating back to a 5-0 win at No. 24 Louisville.
"It's probably fair to say I was a little excited to play up front tonight," Roccaro said. "It was a good opportunity for me to help my team in a different way and I'm glad we were able to get another win in the ACC -- they're all important in a conference as tough as this one."
Sophomore forwards Crystal Thomas (Elgin, Ill./Wheaton Academy) and Anna Maria Gilbertson (Davis, Calif./Davis) added goals in the first and second halves, respectively, with Thomas driving a dagger into the Terrapins, scoring with six seconds left in the opening half to give the Fighting Irish a 2-0 lead after Maryland (6-4, 2-2 ACC) hit the crossbar moments earlier.
Aside from that close call with the woodwork, freshman goalkeeper Kaela Little (Tulsa, Okla./Bishop Kelley) was largely untested by a Maryland side that was coming off a 1-0 win over then-No. 6/3 Wake Forest four days earlier. Little only had to make one save in the first 67:15, before giving way to junior netminder Sarah Voigt (Middleburg, Fla./St. John's Country Day School), who didn't record a save in completing Notre Dame's third consecutive shutout and fourth in the past five matches.
The Fighting Irish (8-1, 4-0 ACC) finished with a comfortable edge in all statistical categories, including total shots (15-5), shots on goal (9-1) and corner kicks (2-0). Notre Dame also was called for nine of the 14 fouls in the contest, while each team was issued one yellow card.
"Professional isn't a term you hear a lot in college athletics, but in soccer terms, that was about as close as you can come to a professional win," Fighting Irish head coach Randy Waldrum said. "I thought we were sharp from start to finish, the move to put Cari up top really paid off and everyone who came in gave us energy and kept the level of play high the entire time.
"It really all started with the forward line tonight," he added. "Cari had just a sensational night, but so did Lauren (Bohaboy), Crystal (Thomas), Karin (Simonian), Anna Maria (Gilbertson) and even Kaleigh (Olmsted) and Mary (Schwappach) were solid when they came in. When we're creative on offense and putting pressure on teams like we did tonight, and continuing to get the kind of consistent play from our defense that we're getting, especially on a player as good as (Maryland's Hayley) Brock, you end up with a result like this. You can't help but be pleased with that kind of performance."
Things got a bit sideways for both teams in the opening 10 minutes, starting in the fourth minute, when Maryland used some nifty passing to find Megan Gibbons with space on the right edge of the penalty area. However, her shot from 15 yards out went straight into the waiting arms of Little, who didn't have to move an inch to make her only save of the night.
A bit more than four minutes later, Notre Dame caught UM goalkeeper Rachelle Beanlands off her line, as she strayed to the edge of the box to try and clear a ball, only to have Bohaboy knock it town at the top right corner while Beanlands slipped trying to get back into position. Yet, Bohaboy wasn't able to convert into the vacated net, as Maryland defender Maren Knudsen retreated well and made a sliding stop at the edge of the six-yard box, poking the ball over the end line for a corner kick that didn't result in any further danger.
As both teams continued to try and build their possession-based attacks, it was clear Notre Dame was having the better run of play and the chances began to pile up. In the 29th minute, the Fighting Irish came close to breaking through, as freshman midfielder Morgan Andrews (Milford, N.H./Milford) drove a well-weighted free kick from the left flank towards the penalty spot, where sophomore defender/tri-captain Katie Naughton (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Elk Grove) snapped a low header on target, but Beanlands tracked the shot well and made the save with a dive to her right.
That proved to be a brief respite for the Terrapins, who were betrayed by their defense three minutes later to produce the night's first goal. Maryland attempted a clearance from its defensive right back through the center of the pitch, but Bohaboy dropped back to intercept the pass. She then found Roccaro in the clear on a run down the left side of the box, and Roccaro made no mistake, scoring her first goal of the season on a low shot from 10 yards out that tucked inside the far (right) post past a sprawling Beanlands.
"It was good to finally get that first goal," Rocarro said. "It had been a little frustrating not being able to find one, but Lauren hit me with a perfect pass and then it was just up to me to finish."
Despite the 1-0 Notre Dame lead, the pace of the match evolved into a midfield battle for the next quarter-hour, with the Fighting Irish registering the only shot in that time (and it was blocked). That all changed in the final minute of the half, starting when Maryland's Lauren Berman made a seemingly harmless run into the attacking third, but found some room and uncorked a rising shot that beat Little. However, it couldn't solve the crossbar, with the ball dropping down a foot short of the line and the Notre Dame goalkeeper alertly snared the shot before it caused additional problems.
On the ensuing counterattack, the Fighting Irish were able to find their own space on the left flank, as senior defender/tri-captain Elizabeth Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) darted through a host of retreating Terrapins, eventually making her way down the left channel into the area before snapping a quick cross towards the top of the six. Thomas was on the move and got inside position on her defender, sliding in to poke a shot past Beanlands at 44:54, doubling the Notre Dame lead just before halftime.
"Talk about a momentum swing," Waldrum said. "We caught a break with the crossbar, but give full credit to our players, especially Tucker for being so alert and realizing there was still time on the clock. Maybe our last game (when Notre Dame scored the winning goal with three seconds left vs. Syracuse) was in the back of our minds, because Tucker and Crystal never gave up on the play and really gave us a boost going into the half."
Knowing that Maryland would come out hungry to try and cut into the margin, the Fighting Irish -- or more accurately, Roccaro -- needed less than 15 minutes to take the wind right out of the Terrapins' sails, albeit with some help from the visitors.
After Bohaboy rang the left post with a twisting shot in the 51st minute, Maryland was on its heels and Notre Dame pounced, as Bohaboy and Roccaro teamed up to dispossess Terrapin defender Erika Nelson. Roccaro picked up the loose ball and went 1-v-1 against Beanlands, slotting home a low shot past the onrushing netminder at 54:52.
Five minutes later, Roccaro had her hat trick, thanks to some hard work on the left flank by Simonian, who was able to win the ball at the top corner of the box. She then sent a quick cross into the heart of the penalty area, where Roccaro found a sliver of space to settle the ball and got enough on her shot to muscle it past Beanlands before the goalkeeper arrived on the scene, with the ball trickling over the goal line (59:40).
At that point, the outcome was all but decided and the two coaches would substitute freely for the remaining half-hour. Yet, that still left time for an emphatic exclamation point on the proceedings, courtesy of Gilbertson in the 78th minute.
The crafty second-year striker made a sensational move to wriggle free from her defender on the right flank, nutmegging her mark and then deftly cutting inside for a better angle. She then wound up and cracked a curling 20-yard left-footed shot that was on target from the moment it left her boot, disappearing high into the upper left corner of the goal while Maryland reserve goalkeeper Kristene Mumby lept in vain to make the stop (77:24).
The Fighting Irish return to the pitch at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday, closing out their four-match homestand against fellow ACC newcomer Pittsburgh at Alumni Stadium. The match will be streamed live and free of charge through the official Notre Dame athletics multimedia platform, WatchND. Sunday's contest also will be Notre Dame's "White Out" match, with the first 750 fans receiving "Fighting Irish Women's Soccer White Out" t-shirts.
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 Fighting Irish women's soccer program, follow Notre Dame on Twitter (@NDsoccernews or @NDsoccer), like the Fighting Irish 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.
#5/3 Notre Dame 5, #21/22 Maryland 0
Maryland 0 0 -- 0
ND 1. Cari Roccaro 1 (Lauren Bohaboy) 31:58. ND 2. Crystal Thomas 2 (Elizabeth Tucker) 44:54. ND 3. Roccaro 2 (-) 54:52. ND 4. Roccaro 3 (Karin Simonian) 59:40. ND 5. Anna Maria Gilbertson 2 (-) 77:24.
Total Shots: MD 5 (2-3), ND 15 (7-8)
-- Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director