Oct. 17, 2010
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Seniors Lauren Fowlkes (Lee's Summit, Mo./St. Teresa's Academy) and Rose Augustin (Silver Lake, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) scored 8:09 apart early in the second half as the No. 4/5 Notre Dame women's soccer team knocked off Providence, 3-1 in BIG EAST Conference action on Sunday afternoon at Glay Field in Providence, R.I.
The Fighting Irish win, coupled with Georgetown's simultaneous 3-0 loss at West Virginia, clinched Notre Dame's sixth consecutive BIG EAST National Division title and its 13th conference regular-season crown (division or overall) since joining the BIG EAST in 1995-96.
Freshman midfielder Elizabeth Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) added a goal, while freshman forward Adriana Leon (Maple, Ontario/The Country Day School) and junior midfielder Courtney Barg (Plano, Texas/Plano West) chipped in with assists for the Fighting Irish.
Sunday's win not only locked up the division championship, but it also lengthened Notre Dame's NCAA Division I-record unbeaten streak against BIG EAST opponents to 75 consecutive matches (71-0-4). In addition, it was the 80th career win for the current Fighting Irish senior class.
Notre Dame (14-1-1, 8-0-1 BIG EAST) outshot Providence, 15-12 for the match, along with a 7-6 edge in shots on goal -- in the second half, the Fighting Irish outshot PC, 9-5, including a 5-2 edge in shots on goal. The Friars took the advantage on corner kicks, 8-6, although Notre Dame attempted four of the five tries from the flag in the final 45 minutes.
Senior goalkeeper Nikki Weiss (Redding, Conn./Immaculate) registered five saves in the Fighting Irish net, including three high-quality stops in the first half, to earn her 14th win of the season, tying her career high set last year. Providence goalkeeper Jill Schott turned aside four shots for the hosts.
"Winning any kind of championship is never easy, especially in a conference as tough as the BIG EAST, and we all realize the significance of clinching the division title," Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. "I thought we put forth an effort that was much more worthy of a championship team in the second half and our veterans did a good job of leading us this afternoon. There are always lessons and positive steps we can take from any match and today, I think the most positive thing I saw was how we kept our focus and composure once we got the lead and then the two-goal advantage. Providence threw a lot at us in the latter part of the second half and we did well to handle the added pressure, maintain possession and keep their threats to a minimum."
After taking nearly 78 minutes to break through at Connecticut on Friday night, the Fighting Irish needed far less time to move in front at Providence, scoring the day's first goal in the seventh minute courtesy of a pair of rookies. Augustin delivered a heavy cross from the right side that looped over Schott's head towards the left end line. Leon battled to dig the ball out and quickly lobbed a ball back into the vacated goalmouth, where Tucker got in front of her defender and scored the seventh goal of her freshman season at 6:20.
Leon kept up the pressure and nearly doubled the Notre Dame lead at the 11-minute mark, breaking free on the left flank and angling to the top corner of the penalty area. She then drove a wicked long-range blast that beat Schott, only to be denied by the crossbar.
Providence (8-5-2, 3-4-2) had its first good chance of the day in the 30th minute, as Jill Camburn ran on to a through-ball on the right side of the box, but Weiss quickly charged off her line to cut down the angle and denied Camburn's 10-yard shot with a strong reflex save.
Just three minutes later, the Friars drew level and it came off one of PC's seven corner kicks in the first half. Kate DelCiampo served a ball from the left flagstick right into the six-yard box, where Camburn rose up and got a head on the ball just before Weiss' arrival, nodding the cross inside the left post at 32:11.
Providence earned four more corner kicks in succession with less than 10 minutes to go in the first half. The last of those DelCiampo services pinballed off a Notre Dame defender, but Weiss alertly dove to her right and was able to snare the loose ball on the doorstep.
The Fighting Irish wasted little time in stopping the madness after halftime, and it started with Augustin, who was taken down at the edge of the attacking third for a dangerous free kick. As she has done so many times in her career, Augustin then lofted a precision serve to Fowlkes, who was lurking on the right side of the box. The Fighting Irish co-captain settled the ball, which trickled towards Schott, but the Providence goalkeeper couldn't gain control and Fowlkes hammered the ball into the left side netting for her first goal of the season exactly five minutes into the second half.
Just before the hour mark, Notre Dame got an all-important third goal and built a two-score cushion. Barg won the ball just inside the offensive end of the midfield circle, pushed forward and then spotted Augustin racing down the right channel. Barg delivered a perfectly-weighted pass over the top of the Providence defense, hitting Augustin nearly in stride, and all the Fighting Irish striker had to do was take a slight touch back towards the middle before lashing a thunderbolt into the far left-side netting at 59:08.
Following the goal, the Friars pushed up a third forward and had a tantalizing chance in the 68th minute, as Alyssa Martino lofted a right-side cross towards the left side of the penalty area where Stephanie Leonard went up and drove a 10-yard header off the left post before Notre Dame swept the ball out of danger. It would be PC's last good opportunity of the match, as the Fighting Irish held the Friars to just a handful of ambitious long-distance tries that never seriously threatened the Notre Dame cage.
Notre Dame will close out the regular season next weekend with a two-match road swing beginning at 3 p.m. (ET) Friday at Villanova -- live Gametracker stats for that contest will be available through the official Fighting Irish athletics web site, www.UND.com.
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: In their 16 seasons as a BIG EAST member, the Fighting Irish have won 13 regular-season titles -- 10 in the conference's divisional format (1999-2001, 2003, 2005-10) and three as an overall champion (1996-97, 2004) Notre Dame extended its current unbeaten streak to 11 consecutive matches (10-0-1) ... the Fighting Irish scored at least two goals in a match for the ninth time in the past 10 outings ... Notre Dame moves to 293-3-1 (.988) all-time when scoring three goals in a match, including a 195-1 (.995) record since Oct. 6, 1995 ... for the ninth time this season, and the seventh time in the past nine matches, the Fighting Irish scored inside the opening 15 minutes of play ... Notre Dame has allowed one goal or fewer in 29 of its last 31 matches, and improves to 403-10-16 (.958) all-time when giving up 0-1 goals in a match ... Augustin became the 26th Fighting Irish player to join the 20-goal, 20-assist club, reaching the latter mark on Sunday (27G-20A) ... Augustin now has a career-high nine goals and 25 points (9G-7A) this season, topping her old bests of seven goals and 24 points, both set last year; her seven assists also are tied for the team lead with Melissa Henderson ... Fowlkes, who returned to her natural center back position this season after playing as a forward in 2009, scored her first goal since Nov. 8, 2009, when she potted the opening score in Notre Dame's 2-1 BIG EAST Championship final win over Marquette in Storrs, Conn. ... Barg, who made her season debut this weekend (and first start on Sunday vs. Providence) after missing the first two months of the season with an injury, tallied her first point since Oct. 18, 2009, when she set up Amanda Clark's insurance goal in a 2-0 win over, ironically enough, Providence at Alumni Stadium ... the Fighting Irish remain perfect in 15 all-time meetings with the Friars, including a 7-0 record at Glay Field; Notre Dame also has outscored Providence, 76-2 in the series, with Sunday's goal being the first for PC against the Fighting Irish since Sept. 3, 2000 (a 5-1 Notre Dame victory at old Alumni Field).