Oct. 14, 2012
VILLANOVA, Pa. - Freshman forward Anna Maria Gilbertson (Davis, Calif./Davis) scored the quickest goal of the season for No. 24/23 Notre Dame, scoring just 6:09 into the match and the Fighting Irish defense did the rest as Notre Dame clinched a top-two finish in the BIG EAST Conference's National Division with a 1-0 win at Villanova on Sunday afternoon at the West Campus Soccer Complex in Villanova, Pa.
With the victory, the Fighting Irish (11-4-2, 7-1-1 BIG EAST) also locked up a home match in the quarterfinal round of the upcoming BIG EAST Championship, with that conference tournament quarterfinal date, time and opponent to be determined once conference plays ends next weekend.
Junior forward Rebecca Twining (Houston, Texas/Second Baptist School) and freshman forward Mary Schwappach (Denver, Colo./Mullen) both earned assists on Gilbertson's goal, which was her fifth of the season and first career match-winning score.
Freshman goalkeeper Elyse Hight (Edmond, Okla./Bishop McGuinness) was sharp in her first start since the Sept. 14 BIG EAST opener against Louisville, making three saves to record her second solo shutout of the year (along with one shared clean sheet). Netminder Jami Kranich did all she could to keep Villanova (6-8-3, 4-4-1) in the match, registering nine saves to tie a Notre Dame opponent season high.
The Fighting Irish finished with a 23-9 edge in total shots, including a 10-3 margin in shots on goal. Notre Dame also earned a 5-3 advantage in corner kicks, while Villanova was on the wrong end of an 11-6 spread in fouls, in addition to collecting the day's lone yellow card.
"I thought we bounced back well after Friday's performance at Georgetown," Fighting Irish head coach Randy Waldrum said. "We made some changes in the lineup and they worked well. Anna (Maria Gilbertson) had a great strike to get us in front early, and we continued to create dangerous opportunities throughout the game. Elyse (Hight) came up big when we needed her to, and we did a nice job of staying focused and composed, finishing the game and keeping their chances to a minimum."
Notre Dame got all the offense it would need in the seventh minute, starting with a service up the left channel to Schwappach. The rookie alertly flicked a header to Twining racing through the center of the attacking third, and in turn, Twining one-timed a chip to Gilbertson in space on the right side of the box. Gilbertson wasted little time in hammering her shot to the short side, beating Kranich with a drive that twisted high into the upper right corner of the net (6:09).
The Fighting Irish dodged a huge bullet in the 12th minute, when Hayley Wilson's corner kick from the far right flag curled through traffic at the near post, but Hight made an athletic play to dive back and snare the ball just inches before it crossed the stripe.
After that near-miss, Notre Dame maintained much of the possession for the remainder of the day, keeping Kranich on her toes with a variety of forays into the attacking third.
The Fighting Irish had their best look at doubling the lead in the 79th minute with a textbook example of team passing in the attacking third, starting with junior midfielder/tri-captain Mandy Laddish (Lee's Summit, Mo./Lee's Summit) just outside the left edge of the box. She found junior midfielder/tri-captain Elizabeth Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) inside the area, with Tucker cutting back on her mark near the by-line, then sliding a pass on to freshman forward Crystal Thomas (Elgin, Ill./Wheaton Academy), who looked to shoot and pulled Kranich off her line. Thomas then poked a pass across to Bohaboy to the right of the penalty spot, but just as Bohaboy went to shoot, the ball hopped on her slightly and in her attempt to reload, the Wildcat defense recovered and cleared the ball from danger.
Villanova pressed hard in the final 10 minutes, looking for the equalizer, but it was not to be. The Wildcats did have a handful of solid looks, starting in the 81st minute, when Heidi Sabatura found a crease at the top of the box and drove a low shot towards the right post. However, Hight tracked the ball well, diving to her left and getting a hand on the shot, pushing it wide of the post.
The last good chance of the day for Villanova came with 1:20 remaining, when a right-side cross eluded Hight and dropped near the penalty spot for Renee Hart, but the VU freshman sailed her 12-yard shot over the bar.
Notre Dame will close out the regular season at 3 p.m. CT (4 p.m. ET) Friday, when it travels to Chicago to take on DePaul at Wish Field.
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POST-MATCH NOTES: Gilbertson's goal was the quickest by Notre Dame since Oct. 7, 2011, when Jessica Schuveiller found the back of the net 3:49 into a 2-0 victory at Seton Hall ... Gilbertson is the eighth different Fighting Irish player (and fourth freshman) to score a match-winning goal this season ... Gilbertson and Schwappach teamed up for a goal for the second time in four matches, with Schwappach assisting on Gilbertson's 88th-minute goal in a 5-1 win over Seton Hall on Oct. 5 at Alumni Stadium ... Notre Dame picked up its seventh shutout and 11th win of the season, both topping last year's totals (six shutouts, 10 wins) ... the Fighting Irish improve to 19-1 all-time against Villanova, including a series-long 10-match winning streak ... Notre Dame also moves to 8-1 all-time in suburban Philadelphia, although six of the past seven matches between the Fighting Irish and Villanova at the West Campus Complex have been decided by one goal ... Notre Dame jumps to 9-0 this season when leading at halftime ... the Fighting Irish are unbeaten in 31 of their last 36 Sunday matches (26-5-5, .792), and have a 45-7-6 (.828) record on Sundays dating back to September 2007.
Notre Dame 1 - 0 - 1
Villanova 0 - 0 - 0
Total Shots: Notre Dame 23 (8-15), Villanova 9 (5-4)
Shots On Goal: Notre Dame 10 (5-5), Villanova 3 (2-1)
Saves: Notre Dame 3 (Elyse Hight 3 in 90:00), Villanova 9 (Jami Kranich 9 in 90:00)
Corner Kicks: Notre Dame 5 (1-4), Villanova 3 (1-2)
Fouls: Notre Dame 6 (5-1), Villanova 11 (8-3)
Offsides: Notre Dame 3, Villanova 2
Yellow Card: Taylor Houck (VU) 6:54
Records: Notre Dame 11-4-2, 7-1-1 BIG EAST; Villanova 6-8-3, 4-4-1 BIG EAST