Oct. 9, 2016
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- In a tussle between two of the Atlantic Coast Conference's top defenses Sunday, a penalty kick opportunity proved to be the difference as the No. 20 University of Notre Dame women's soccer team fell to No. 8 Virginia 1-0 at Alumni Stadium.
It was the first loss for the Irish (9-2-3, 4-1-1 ACC) since August 25, spanning 10 matches.
The winning goal came off the foot of Cavaliers leading scorer Alexis Shaffer, who converted on the penalty kick after the Irish were called for a foul on a tackle inside the box in the 60th minute.
Virginia (10-2-2, 3-1-2 ACC) owned a 12-9 edge in shots, including 3-2 in shots on goal. Each team earned four corner kick attempts.
Notre Dame and Virginia entered the game in the top three in the conference in goals allowed, goals against average and shutouts.
Player of the Game
The Irish midfield was instrumental in keeping the game a low-scoring affair. With much of the game played in the middle of the field, senior Sandra Yu and juniors Taylor Klawunder and Monica Flores were key in limiting Virginia's chances on goal. Yu also tied for the team lead with three shots.
Play of the Game
Notre Dame's best scoring chance came in the 78th minute on a free kick opportunity from 15 yards up the right sideline. Freshman Jennifer Westendorf lifted the service toward the far post for Taylor Klawunder, whose header looked to sneak behind a defender, but the shot was batted away by Virginia goalkeeper Morgan Stearns on a diving play just in time.
After struggling to find a rhythm in the first half, the Irish came out in control in the second, keeping the ball in the final third and creating scoring chances in the first 10 minutes of the half. The momentum then swung back to the Cavaliers, who pressed back into their offensive zone and fired three shots before drawing the foul inside the box that resulted in the Alexis Shaffer penalty kick in the 60th minute.
Coach Theresa.Romagnolo Says
On the offensive adjustment in the second half...
"We switched our system and it gave us more numbers in the midfield to help us win the ball and get more pressure on them. It just helped us get ahold of the ball."
On the team's play...
"I thought everybody played well. It was a tough game to play, two good teams, possession turned over on both sides. I thought Taylor Klawunder had a good game, breaking up a lot of plays. Kaleigh Olmsted, Monica Flores played well. As a whole, everybody played well."
On the offensive chances...
"We had some good chances. It was just almost like we didn't get the break today. Either it got caught on our foot or it just bounced to them or the keeper just made the save. So we were close, but we just couldn't quite get that final product."
On the takeaways from the game...
"I'm really pleased with our team and the direction that we're going in. We just have to have a short memory about this one and move on. We've got to take care of our bodies this week, get sleep, take care of school and get ready for the next one.
Note of the Game
Notre Dame lost at home for the first time this season, giving up its only goal of the year at Alumni Stadium. The Irish have outscored opponents 14-1 at home on the year.
-- ND --
Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women's soccer, men's tennis, women's tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in mass communication, and earned her master's degree in sports industry management from Georgetown University in 2013.