Sept. 29, 2013
Cari Roccaro (East Islip, N.Y./East Islip) to forward has paid off for Notre Dame.
Roccaro had a hand in all three Fighting Irish goals on Sunday afternoon, scoring once and adding a career-high two assists as No. 5/3 Notre Dame picked up its sixth consecutive win, downing Pittsburgh, 3-0 in Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) play before 1,123 fans at Alumni Stadium.
It was the second stellar performance in four days for the versatile All-American, who came into the week without a point all season, but promptly netted her first career hat trick in Thursday's 5-0 win over No. 21/22 Maryland. For the weekend, she finished with 10 points on four goals and two assists, factoring into six of the eight Fighting Irish scores.
Junior forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita) got Notre Dame on the board less than 20 minutes into the match with her team-leading sixth goal of the year (and third match-winner), and senior midfielder/tri-captain Mandy Laddish (Lee's Summit, Mo./Lee's Summit) capped off the comprehensive victory, scoring her first goal of the campaign in the 64th minute.
Freshman goalkeeper Kaela Little (Tulsa, Okla./Bishop Kelley) wasn't asked to make a save in 79 minutes of action before giving way to junior Sarah Voigt (Middleburg, Fla./St. John's Country Day School), who came up with one save in the closing minutes to preserve Notre Dame's fourth consecutive shutout and fifth in the past six matches.
The Fighting Irish (9-1, 5-0 ACC) built up massive statistical margins in all categories on Sunday, ending with a 32-3 edge in total shots, including a 13-1 advantage in shots on goal (not counting two second-half attempts that hit the crossbar). Notre Dame also held a 7-1 spread on corner kicks, while fouls were nearly even (5-4 against the Fighting Irish, along with the day's lone yellow card).
"I thought we came out a little lackluster in the first half, but we did a better job of picking up the intensity in the second half," Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. "We created some good chances, which was something we weren't able to do against another defensive-minded team in Syracuse last week. Our defense as a unit was very solid again today and we were able to use our depth quite a lot this weekend, which is always a plus when you play in a conference as tough as the ACC."
The Fighting Irish wasted little time in putting Pittsburgh (4-7-1, 0-6 ACC) under pressure, as Bohaboy found space on the left side of the box just 15 seconds into the match and fired a 15-yard shot on target, but Panthers goalkeeper Nicole D'Agostino held fast to make the stop, the first of a career high-tying 10 saves for the netminder (a mark she's now reached in each of her team's last four outings).
That also would be the first salvo in one-way traffic for Notre Dame towards the Pitt goal, as the Fighting Irish piled up a 16-0 shot edge in the first half, with half of those tries ending up on goal.
Notre Dame appeared to have taken the lead in the 13th minute off a double header in the box following a free kick, but the Fighting Irish were flagged for offside, wiping out the score.
Six minutes later, the hosts were on the board. Bohaboy drove down the right edge of the area before pulling a cross back to the top of the six for Roccaro, whose close-range shot was stopped by D'Agostino. However, the rebound ended up at Bohaboy's feet and after a brief goalmouth scramble, she tapped it into the net (18:29).
"When you play a team that bunkers in like Pitt does, you worry that if you don't get a goal, they're going to get more and more confident as the game wears on," Waldrum said. "Those kinds of teams are hard to score on just because they put so many bodies back behind the ball. It was good to get the (early) goal, but you always worry that one is not enough."
Just past the half-hour mark, Laddish nearly doubled Notre Dame's advantage, getting free on the right side of the box. Her initial shot was blocked by a defender, but it came right back to the veteran midfielder who then found herself in alone on D'Agostino. Laddish tried to lift a shot over the onrushing goalkeeper, but D'Agostino was equal to the challenge and made one of her best saves of the day to keep the margin at 1-0 heading to the locker room.
Waldrum's desire for an insurance goal ultimately was fulfilled just 49 seconds into the second half. Senior defender Rebecca Twining (Houston, Texas/Second Baptist School) took a throw-in on the right side, 25 yards up from the end line. Her toss found Roccaro at the top right corner of the area, and the second-year standout made a deft touch to create a better angle, then rifled a rising 20-yard shot that tucked neatly under the crossbar and over a leaping and backpedaling D'Agostino (45:49).
"It's been great, a fantastic weekend for Cari,"Waldrum said. "She's been a great spark to our offense, which we've needed, especially over the last couple of weekends when we've struggled with that. She's done very well up there and it's made everyone around her play a little bit better offensively."
Roccaro turned back to playmaker on Notre Dame's final goal, latching on to a ball at the edge of the attacking third and quickly sliding a through-ball to Laddish racing down the center of the pitch. The Fighting Irish tri-captain cut to her right at the top of the box, then zipped a low shot inside the left post past a diving D'Agostino (63:50).
Notre Dame was unlucky not to add further to its total later in the second half, as junior forward Karin Simonian (Westbury, N.Y./W.T. Clarke) twice beat D'Agostino in a 10-minute span, only to be denied by the crossbar both times.
Pittsburgh came out of its shell a bit in the final quarter-hour against the Fighting Irish reserves, and had its best scoring chance of the day in the 82nd minute, when Dana DelleFemine was the recipient of a neat lead pass near the penalty spot. However, Voigt (who had come into the match less than three minutes earlier) showed she was prepared when her number was called, diving to her left to steer DelleFemine's snapshot wide of the right post and keep the Fighting Irish clean sheet intact.
"Sometimes, when we were in the BIG EAST (Conference), we may not have been prepared with enough strong competition at the end of the year like we needed to be," Waldrum said. "There's not going to be any problem with that this year."
Notre Dame closes out its four-match homestand at 7 p.m. (ET) Thursday when it takes on its fifth ranked opponent of the season (and third in five matches), playing host to No. 9/10 Wake Forest at Alumni Stadium. The match will be streamed live and free of charge through the official Notre Dame athletics multimedia platform, WatchND (watchnd.tv).
Season and single-match tickets for Notre Dame women's soccer 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 3, Pittsburgh 0
Sept. 29, 2013
Notre Dame, Ind. (Alumni Stadium)
Pittsburgh 0 0 -- 0
Notre Dame 1 2 -- 3
Total Shots: PITT 3 (0-3), ND 32 (16-16)
Shots on Goal: PITT 1 (0-1), ND 13 (8-5)
Saves: PITT 10 (Nicole D'Agostino 10 in 90:00), ND 1 (Kaela Little 0 in 79:03, Sarah Voigt 1 in 10:57)
Corner Kicks: PITT 1 (0-1), ND 7 (1-6)
Fouls: PITT 4 (2-2), ND 5 (2-3)
Offsides: PITT 0, ND 2
Yellow Card: Crystal Thomas (ND) 37:31
Records: PITT 4-7-1 (0-6-0 ACC), ND 9-1-0 (5-0-0 ACC)
Next for ND: vs. No. 9/10 Wake Forest, 7 p.m. (ET) Thursday at Alumni Stadium (live stream on WatchND)
-- Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director