Oct. 10, 2010
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Senior forward/midfielder Rose Augustin (Silver Lake, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) chalked up a goal and two assists, and senior forward/midfielder Erica Iantorno (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale) added her first career game-winning score in the 67th minute as the No. 5/7 Notre Dame women's soccer team celebrated Senior Day with a hard-fought 3-2 BIG EAST Conference victory over Rutgers on a sun-splashed Sunday afternoon before a crowd of 1,166 fans at Alumni Stadium and a national cable television audience on ESPNU.
Junior forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) sparked a two-goal flurry by the Fighting Irish midway through the second half, netting her team-high 12th goal of the season and eighth in the past five matches. Freshman midfielder Elizabeth Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) also got into the scorebook with an assist on Augustin's first-half goal.
The win extended Notre Dame's NCAA Division I-record unbeaten streak against BIG EAST opponents to 73 consecutive matches (70-0-3), passing Division III member Wisconsin-Stevens Point for the fourth-longest unbeaten run against conference foes in NCAA history (across all divisions) -- the Pointers compiled a 72-match streak from 1996-2000. It also marked the 11th time in the 12-year tenure of head coach Randy Waldrum that Notre Dame came away with a win on Senior Day.
The Fighting Irish (13-1, 7-0 BIG EAST) collected their ninth consecutive win behind a strong second half that saw the hosts outshoot Rutgers, 12-2, including a 5-1 spread in shots on goal. Notre Dame finished the day with a 15-6 shot edge (8-4 in shots on goal) and earned a 4-2 advantage on corner kicks, while the Scarlet Knights were called for 11 of the 18 fouls in the match.
Karla Schacher pulled the Scarlet Knights (8-7, 3-4) back within a goal with her score in the 77th minute, after setting up Rutgers' first goal with a cross that deflected in off a Notre Dame defender for an own-goal.
Senior goalkeeper Nikki Weiss (Redding, Conn./Immaculate) earned the victory in the Fighting Irish net, making two saves. Meanwhile, Emmy Simpkins was credited with five saves in the Scarlet Knights' goal.
"We've always had some real battles with Rutgers in the past, and we knew that they were going to come into this match with some extra fire and hunger because they're battling for a postseason bid," Waldrum said. "They pushed us quite a bit today, but I thought we did a much better job of raising our intensity level in the second half and created some very good scoring chances that we capitalized on. I'm also very happy for our seniors to contribute as much as they did and walk away with a win in their last regular-season match at Alumni Stadium. That's something those players will remember well after they leave Notre Dame."
Once again wearing their special white and pink uniforms in honor of Kicks Against Breast Cancer, the Fighting Irish had the first solid offensive opportunity of the match in the seventh minute, as junior defender/co-captain Jessica Schuveiller (Plano, Texas/Plano West) sent a ball down the right side for Henderson, who slipped a ball toward the top of the box for Iantorno. In turn, she laid off a drop pass for Augustin, who had a full head of steam and ripped a low left-footed shot that Simpkins did well to stop near the right post.
Notre Dame would be the first to dent the scoreboard, doing so in the 15th minute. Tucker delivered a perfectly-timed pass into the right channel for Augustin, and the senior attacker took a calm touch on the right side of the box before drilling a low right-footed shot underneath Simpkins and inside the far left post (14:28) for her eighth goal of the season.
A little more than a minute later, Rutgers got the equalizer on a bit of misfortune by the Fighting Irish back line. Schacher did much of the heavy lifting on the score with a run to the right end line before cutting back at the edge of the penalty area and swinging a left-footed cross into the six-yard box. RU's Jonelle Filigno and Notre Dame's Julie Scheidler (Indianapolis, Ind./Bishop Chatard) went stride for stride toward the ball at the right post, with the cross eluding Filigno's outstretched foot and instead glancing off Scheidler's thigh and just inside the right post (15:49).
The remainder of the half was a back-and-forth affair, with the Scarlet Knights taking two of the subsequent three shots on goal in the period, although neither posed a significant threat to Weiss in the Notre Dame net. The Fighting Irish had their best chance in the 38th minute, when senior defender/co-captain Lauren Fowlkes (Lee's Summit, Mo./St. Teresa's Academy) went high at the back post to get a head on Augustin's left-side corner kick, but Simpkins was equal to the task and kept the score level at intermission.
It didn't take long for Notre Dame's renewed intensity in the second half to become apparent, as freshman defender Kecia Morway (Lake Villa, Ill./Lakes Community) served a dangerous cross in the direction of the penalty spot, where Henderson was waiting and rose for a flick header that just skipped wide of the left post in the 47th minute. Schuveiller and junior midfielder Molly Campbell (Mission Hills, Kan./St. Teresa's Academy) offered probing long-distance shots on goal during the ensuing seven minutes, but Simpkins was able to stop both of those efforts as well.
The momentum of Sunday's match turned in favor of the Fighting Irish in the 65th minute, and it started with some gritty work in the defensive third by Iantorno, who pried the ball loose and started the counterattack by finding Augustin with a pass up near the midfield circle. Augustin one-timed a well-weighted through ball behind the Rutgers defense, finding Henderson streaking in all alone on the Scarlet Knights' net. The Notre Dame striker moved into the area, pulled the ball back to allow her defender to fly by, dribbled Simpkins out of position and then deposited the ball into an empty net at 64:30.
Less than two minutes later, the Fighting Irish doubled their lead and pushed Rutgers into desperation mode. Tucker made a superb run down the right flank before sending a cross through the penalty area that Henderson dismissed with a beautiful dummy run near the top of the six-yard box. Iantorno collected the ball at the penalty spot and shoveled it on the left side to Augustin, who played the ball back near the spot, where Iantorno quickly cracked a low left-footed shot low past Simpkins for her third goal of the season (66:27).
Trailing by two scores, the Scarlet Knights shifted their formation and added an extra attacker up front. The move paid off in a little more than 10 minutes, beginning with a run along the right touch line by Filigno. She then muscled Morway off the ball near the corner flag, raced parallel to the end line before sliding a pass back to the top right corner of the box. Schacher tracked down the ball 18 yards out, angled towards the center of the area and shook free of her defender before hitting a low left-footed shot past Weiss (76:42).
While the RU goal might have sent some of the hearts in the stands fluttering, Notre Dame would have the better of play during the final quarter-hour, taking advantage of a three-player Scarlet Knights' back line to fire off four of the last five shots in the match. Filigno had Rutgers' final scoring chance of the day, but her shot from distance drifted well off-target with 40 seconds to go.
The Fighting Irish now will embark on a four-match road trip to end the regular season, beginning at 4:30 p.m. (ET) Friday when it takes on Connecticut at Morrone Stadium in Storrs, Conn. Notre Dame will remain in New England on Sunday, closing out the weekend with a 1 p.m. (ET) match against Providence at Glay Field in Providence, R.I.
For more information on the Notre Dame women's soccer program, join the Fighting Irish women's soccer news Twitter page (www.twitter.com/NDsoccernews) or sign up for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the sidebar on the women's soccer page at UND.com.
POST GAME NOTES: The jerseys worn by the Fighting Irish players this weekend will be autographed and then auctioned off following Sunday's match vs. Rutgers; bids will be accepted at www.UND.com/auctions through 5 p.m. (ET) Monday -- at press time, more than $3,500 in bids had been made for this auction, with a current high bid of $455 for freshman defender Elizabeth Wilson's uniform ... during the 12-year Randy Waldrum era, Notre Dame is 11-1 on Senior Day, with the lone loss coming in 2003 (a 3-2 non-conference setback to Michigan at old Alumni Field) ... the Fighting Irish have scored two or more goals in each of their last eight matches, including at least three goals in seven of those contests ... Notre Dame continues its uncanny success when scoring three goals in a match, improving to 292-3-1 (.988) all-time in those matches, including a 194-1-0 (.995) record since Oct. 6, 1995 (a 5-4 loss to Connecticut at old Alumni Field) ... Sunday marked only the second time all season (and in the past 29 matches, going back to last year) that the Fighting Irish allowed more than one goal in a match -- 13th-ranked UCLA defeated Notre Dame in overtime, 2-1 on Sept. 10 in Los Angeles ... Rutgers is only the second BIG EAST team ever to score multiple goals against the Fighting Irish at home, and the first since Nov. 10, 1996 (a span of 90 matches), when Notre Dame held off Connecticut, 4-3, in the BIG EAST Championship final at old Alumni Field; UConn has the only win by a BIG EAST opponent over the Fighting Irish in South Bend, earning the aforementioned 5-4 victory on Oct. 6, 1995 ... nevertheless, Notre Dame has won its last 23 matches at its sparkling new state-of-the-art facility, Alumni Stadium, posting a 62-6 scoring margin with 18 shutouts in that time ... the Fighting Irish also lengthened their home unbeaten streak against conference opponents to 99 consecutive matches (98-0-1), with Rutgers offering the lone blemish on that 15-year record with a 0-0 draw on Oct. 22, 2004, at old Alumni Field ... despite its seemingly constant annual grinders with Rutgers, Notre Dame is 18-1-2 all-time against the Scarlet Knights, including a 9-0-1 record at home ... after surpassing Wisconsin-Stevens Point for fourth place on the NCAA all-division conference unbeaten streak chart, Notre Dame will have a ways to go to catch the top three teams on that list (all Division III schools) -- next up is the 93-match league unbeaten streak posted by Wheaton (Mass.) College from 2000-08 ... the Fighting Irish jump to 174-4-2 (.972) all-time at home against unranked opponents (according to the NSCAA poll) ... Notre Dame improves to 32-0 in Henderson's career (2008-present) when she scores a goal, something she's done in nine matches this season, including the past five outings ... the Fighting Irish now are 39-0 all-time when Henderson tallies a point, which she's done in 19 of the past 24 Notre Dame matches, dating back to last season ... with Sunday's goal (the 47th of her career), Henderson took over sole possession of 12th place on the Fighting Irish all-time goals list, passing two-time All-American and former teammate Brittany Bock's total from 2005-08 ... after not allowing an own-goal in six years (dating back to the 2004 NCAA national championship match against UCLA), Notre Dame has given up two own-goals in its last three matches (also vs. St. John's on Oct. 3) ... the Fighting Irish also have potted goals in the first 30 minutes in 11 of their 14 contests this year ... the Fighting Irish have led or been tied for 98 percent of their total minutes played this season (1,238:56 of a possible 1,264:02 this season), trailing only for 25:06 in the first half of the 2-1 overtime loss at UCLA on Sept. 10.