Oct. 21, 2011
Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) made her final regular-season home match at Alumni Stadium a memorable one, scoring a school record-tying four goals (one of seven Fighting Irish records she set or tied on the night), including two in a 58-second span in the second half, to help the Fighting Irish to a comfortable 5-1 BIG EAST Conference win over DePaul on a crisp and clear Friday evening before 1,309 fans on Senior Night.
Henderson also matched the school record with her sixth career hat trick (record-tying third this year) and second career four-goal performance as Notre Dame (9-6-3, 6-3-2 BIG EAST) posted its highest offensive output of the conference season (and second-best overall, trailing only a 7-1 win over Tulsa back on Sept. 2). Senior midfielder Brynn Gerstle (Louisville, Ky./Assumption) netted her second goal of the season, while her classmates Molly Campbell (Mission Hills, Kan./St. Teresa's Academy) and Jessica Schuveiller (Plano, Texas/Plano West) collected assists to highlight the Senior Night effort for the Fighting Irish. Sophomores Kecia Morway (Lake Villa, Ill./Lakes Community) and Adriana Leon (Maple, Ontario/The Country Day School) also picked up assists during the evening.
Junior goalkeeper Maddie Fox (San Jose, Calif./Leigh) went a spotless opening 79:33 between the pipes for Notre Dame, making two saves. Freshman netminder Jennifer Jasper (Fort Worth, Texas/Trinity Valley School) then made her college debut during the final 10-plus minutes, also recording two saves.
DePaul's Rachel Pitman helped the Blue Demons (3-14-1, 1-9-1) avoid the shutout, scoring with 40 seconds left in the match off a corner kick by Beth Perry. DePaul goalkeeper Megan Pyrz was under fire for much of the night, but did make eight saves in going the distance.
"I'm really happy for our seniors, to be able to send them out the right way and to be able to get them all on the field together for a good part of the second half," Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. "Except for that 10-minute span early on against Georgetown (on Oct. 14), we've been playing much better down the stretch and building some positive momentum heading into the postseason. Tonight, I thought we did a better job of finishing our chances in the attacking third, and of course, it doesn't hurt when you've got a bonafide Hermann Trophy frontrunner in Melissa Henderson. She and all of our seniors have done so much for this program during their careers and this was a fitting Senior Night celebration for them and their families."
The Fighting Irish needed a little more than 12 minutes to grab the lead their would never relinquish. Campbell teed up a corner kick from the right side, with freshman defender Sammy Scofield (Geneva, Ill./Geneva) heading the ball from the left side of the box to Henderson at the top of the six. The All-America striker had her first shot blocked, but the rebound came right back to Henderson and she jabbed at the ball with the outside of her right foot, poking it past a prone Pyrz for a 1-0 lead at the 12:12 mark.
Notre Dame would maintain a large measure of the possession time in the first half, but had trouble breaking through in the offensive zone, despite outshooting DePaul, 8-1 in the opening 45 minutes. The Fighting Irish also appeared overly eager to attack on a number of occasions, twice getting flagged for offsides in the period (part of seven such calls against Notre Dame on the night).
The Fighting Irish polished their possession in the second half, and it almost paid off in the opening minute of the stanza, as sophomore forward Mandy Laddish (Lee's Summit, Mo./Lee's Summit) picked off a bad clearance by the Blue Demons and drove down the right side of the box before cutting a pass back to Leon just inside the penalty spot. However, Leon got underneath her shot and sent it sailing over the bar.
On either side of the hour mark, Laddish and Henderson had nearly identical 1-v-1 runs down the right channel, with both players cutting back across the grain towards the center of the box. Laddish had the ball tackled away before she could get a shot off, while Henderson managed to fire a low 12-yard blast that Pyrz did well to save with a dive near the right post.
Notre Dame then took all the mystery out of Senior Night with a three-goal flurry in 8:55, highlighted by Henderson's two-score blitz in less than a minute. Campbell started the first goal sequence with a corner kick that wasn't cleared by DePaul. The ball found its way back out to Campbell on the right side and she reloaded with a pinpoint curling service that Henderson read perfectly, rising up near the penalty spot with a flick header inside the left post (63:50).
With the crowd still buzzing from that goal, Henderson completed her natural hat trick on the next Fighting Irish possession. Leon started the play by toting the ball down the left flank towards the by-line before pivoting on a dime and dropping a pass back to Morway above the top left corner of the box. Morway took a purposeful touch to the inside before drilling a cross into the area, and Henderson timed her run brilliantly, beating the Blue Demons' offside trap and volleying home the service from 10 yards out past a helpless Pyrz (64:48).
After three consecutive Henderson goals, it was time for another Fighting Irish senior to get into the act. Just six minutes after coming on as second-half substitute, Gerstle created her own Notre Dame moment, picking off a DePaul clearing attempt near the edge of the attacking third. She then pushed down the middle and with no Blue Demon defender within range, Gerstle unleashed a thunderous 25-yard rocket into the upper right corner of the net almost before Pyrz could get off her feet to make a dive for the shot (72:45).
It seemed appropriate that two of the Fighting Irish senior captains would combine on the final Notre Dame goal of the night. After Pyrz made a fantastic leaping save to keep out Gerstle's bid for a second score to the upper 90, the Fighting Irish picked off the ensuing goal kick, with the ball ending up on Schuveiller's boot in the right channel. She drove all the way to the by-line before snapping a cross through the six-yard box for her childhood friend Henderson, who was parked on the back post and easily converted from four yards out (81:37).
Notre Dame finishes the regular season in third place in the BIG EAST's National Division and has earned a first-round bye for the conference tournament that gets underway next week. The Fighting Irish will kick off postseason play on Sunday, Oct. 30 in the BIG EAST quarterfinals at No. 5/10 Marquette. The official start time will be announced following the completion of Saturday's final regular-season matches around the conference, with live statistics for this match to be provided on the official Notre Dame athletics web site (www.UND.com).
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POST MATCH NOTES: Notre Dame improves to 12-1 and is averaging 3.77 goals per match on Senior Night during the 13-year Waldrum era (1999-present) ... Friday's five goals were the most scored by the Fighting Irish on Senior Night since Oct. 26, 2008, when Notre Dame downed Seton Hall, 6-0 at old Alumni Field ... in one amazing 84-minute performance on Friday night, Henderson set or tied no fewer than seven Fighting Irish school records (goals in a match, goals in the second half, goals on Senior Night, hat tricks in a single season, career hat tricks, career four-goal matches and career match-winning goals) ... Henderson is the fifth Notre Dame player to score a record-tying three Senior Night goals, and the first since Oct. 24, 1999, when another senior, Jenny Streiffer had a hat trick in a 7-1 win over Miami (Fla.) -- the only other Fighting Irish senior with a hat trick on Senior Night was Cindy Daws, who did so on Nov. 3, 1996, in a 10-1 rout of Villanova ... Henderson posted her second career four-goal match, having also done so on Nov. 15, 2009, in a 6-1 win over Central Michigan in the second round of the NCAA Championship at Alumni Stadium -- Monica Gerardo is the only other Notre Dame player with two four-goal matches (Sept. 7, 1995 at Indiana; Oct. 27, 1996 vs. Seton Hall) ... Henderson and Gerardo are two of five Fighting Irish players ever to score a school record-tying four goals in a match, with the others being Kerri Hanks (at Vermont, Aug. 28, 2005); Katie Thorlakson (vs. St. John's in BIG EAST quarterfinals, Oct. 31, 2004); and Streiffer (at Georgetown, Oct. 11, 1997) -- Henderson is the first senior in that group ... Henderson is just the fourth Notre Dame player to score three goals in the second half of a match, and the first since Nov. 24, 2006, when Michele Weissenhofer did so against Penn State in the NCAA Championship quarterfinals at old Alumni Field; the other three-goal second-half scorers are Thorlakson (vs. Santa Clara on Sept. 5, 2004) and Tasha Strawbridge (vs. Valparaiso on Sept. 14, 1990) ... Henderson registered her third hat trick this season (also vs. Indiana on Sept. 4 at Alumni Stadium; at Cincinnati on Sept. 18), matching the school record for three-goal outings in one year that was first set by Daws in 1996 and duplicated by Heft in 1998 ... Henderson has three of the six hat tricks by a BIG EAST player this year (the only one to have multiple three-goal matches in 2011), and she has two of three hat tricks in conference play (Pittsburgh's Ashley Cuba had the other on Oct. 9 vs. St. John's ... Henderson's sixth career hat trick tied the school record set by Hanks (2005-08) and Jenny Heft (1996-99) ... Henderson potted her 23rd career match-winning goal, tying Hanks for the school record in that category ...Henderson also took over sole possession of fifth place on Notre Dame's career goals list with 69, passing 2000 Hermann Trophy recipient Anne Makinen (65 from 1997-2000) and moving one goal away from becoming the fifth 70-goal scorer in school history (and catching Streiffer for fourth on the Fighting Irish all-time list) ... Henderson now has 163 career points (69G-25A), moving her into 10th place in school history ahead of Michelle McCarthy (156 points from 1992-95) and one point shy of Meotis Erikson (1997-2000) for ninth place ... Notre Dame rises to 41-3-3 all-time when Henderson scores a goal and 52-3-3 when she registers a point ... the Fighting Irish posted double-digit shots on goal for the second consecutive match and seventh time this season, topped by a total of 16 shots on goal against Tulsa on Sept. 2 at Alumni Stadium ... Notre Dame's five goals were the most against a BIG EAST opponent since Sept. 26, 2010, when the Fighting Irish earned a 5-0 win at then-No. 24/18 Louisville ... Notre Dame is 7-0 all-time against DePaul (4-0 in South Bend) and has scored at least four goals in every home match against the Blue Demons, although DePaul did score its first-ever goal against the Fighting Irish with its 90th-minute tally (Notre Dame still holds a 27-1 aggregate scoring edge on the Blue Demons) ... two other longstanding Fighting Irish records continued, as Notre Dame moves to 332-0-1 all-time when going ahead 2-0 (including an active 309-match winning streak in such contests) and rises to 303-3-1 when scoring three goals (205-1 since Oct. 6, 1995) ... for the final time in the regular season, Notre Dame players wore specially-designed uniforms (modeled after the 2008-09 Fighting Irish men's soccer kits), with these jerseys having been made available to the public via an on-line auction that ended on Oct. 17 and generated more than $5,800 in gross donations; all proceeds will go to the Steve Emrich Fund, which helps defray medical expenses for longtime Notre Dame supporter Steve Emrich, who has been hospitalized since late May with severe action myoclonus following a stroke, subsequent cardiac arrest and even a three-week coma that he has since emerged from (see UND.com/emrich for more information, or to learn how you can contribute to this cause).