Oct. 24, 2010
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Junior forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) scored her team- and BIG EAST-leading 14th goal of the season to put the No. 4/5 Notre Dame women's soccer team on top of Georgetown in the 74th minute, but the Hoyas got a late equalizer and two of the conference's top squads wound up playing to a 1-1 double-overtime draw in a wildly-entertaining regular season finale on a sun-drenched Sunday afternoon at North Kehoe Field in Washington, D.C.
With the tie, the Fighting Irish extend their NCAA Division I-record unbeaten streak against conference opponents to 77 matches (72-0-5) and lengthen their current unbeaten streak to 13 in a row (11-0-2). The 2010 campaign marks the first time Notre Dame has ever recorded multiple draws during conference play (either in the BIG EAST or in its previous membership in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference), and it's only the fourth time in the program's 23-year history that the Fighting Irish have registered two-or-more ties in a single season (the others coming in 1991, when they had three draws, and 1995 and 2007, when they logged two ties).
Notre Dame (15-1-2, 9-0-2 BIG EAST) appeared headed for another late-match win following Henderson's goal, which came at 73:31 via a penalty kick after she was hauled down in the box. However, Georgetown (13-5-1, 7-3-1) got back on level terms with 4:09 remaining on Camille Trujillo's goal off a scramble in the area. The Fighting Irish outshot the Hoyas, 3-1 in the two overtime periods, but the two sides wound up sharing the spoils when the final whistle blew.
Senior goalkeeper Nikki Weiss (Redding, Conn./Immaculate) was magnificent between the pipes for Notre Dame, making a career-high eight saves, including several giant stops during the first half when she recorded six of her saves. Georgetown's Jackie Desjardin matched Weiss nearly stop for stop, finishing with six saves.
For the day, GU held a narrow 18-16 edge in total shots, with a 9-7 margin in shots on goal. The teams nearly split the corner kick tries (8-6 Hoyas), while Notre Dame was charged with 11 of the 17 fouls in the match, as well as both offside calls.
"This was one of those matches that you probably really enjoyed if you were watching it from the stands, but not so much if you were in the thick of it down here on the field," Fighting Irish head coach Randy Waldrum said. "You never like to give up points at any stage of the season, but I thought we showed very good toughness and tenacity throughout the day against a quality Georgetown team. Nikki (Weiss) was on top of her game today, especially in the first half when she made some big saves, and I also thought Elizabeth Tucker did very well against a high-caliber U23-team striker like (Georgetown's) Ingrid Wells and kept her threats to a minimum.
"At the end of the day, we obviously wanted to come away with a win, and that didn't happen," Waldrum added. "But this phase of our season is now done and over with, and we did accomplish what we set out to do, which was to win our division. Now we move on to the BIG EAST tournament and look forward to being back home at Alumni Stadium on Sunday in front of our terrific Fighting Irish fans for the start of the postseason."
Much of Sunday's match featured end-to-end action by both teams, which was no surprise for the BIG EAST's top two offensive units. Notre Dame had the first good look of the day in the seventh minute, as junior midfielder Courtney Barg (Plano, Texas/Plano West) knocked down a Georgetown clearing try off a corner kick and chipped a ball over the back line for junior defender/co-captain Jessica Schuveiller (Plano, Texas/Plano West), whose header sailed just high over the crossbar.
Not more than a minute later, the Hoyas came back downfield, as Wells got free on the left side of the box and lofted a well-weighted ball towards the back post, but Weiss expertly read the ball's flight and quickly backpedaled before reaching up with her right hand to tip the shot off frame.
In the 10th minute, Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) got behind the GU backline in the right channel and was headed towards goal, but Desjardin charged off her line and was able to knock down the rookie's shot attempt before it resulted in real danger.
Notre Dame appeared to have taken an early lead in the 12th minute, as freshman forward Adriana Leon (Maple, Ontario/The Country Day School) blasted a shot from the top right of the box that handcuffed Desjardin. The ball spilled out into the goalmouth, where Henderson raced in and dumped the rebound into the vacant net. However, the near-side assistant referee tardily raised his flag for offside, claiming that Henderson was behind the Hoyas' backline on Leon's initial shot and thus wiping out the score.
A minute later, Wells had another scoring chance for Georgetown, taking a 15-yard shot from the top of the box that tested Weiss, but the Fighting Irish netminder dove to her right and was able to snare the ball near the left post.
Just before the half-hour mark, Notre Dame had arguably its best look of the first half. Henderson broke free from two defenders on the top left corner of the penalty area and cracked a low drive that Desjardin knocked down, but couldn't control. Senior forward/midfielder Erica Iantorno (Hinsdale, Ill./Hinsdale) then collected the loose ball with a settling touch, but came up empty on her bid to tuck a shot under the crossbar.
With less than five minutes to go in the first half, Henderson put on her playmaking hat again, this time bending a cross from the top right of the area towards the far left post. Senior defender Julie Scheidler (Indianapolis, Ind./Bishop Chatard) timed her run almost perfectly and stretched to the limit of her 5-foot-5 frame, but at the last moment, the ball drifted just long from her toe-poke attempt in the six-yard box.
Notre Dame kept up its pressure into the second half, beginning in the 53rd minute with senior defender/co-captain Lauren Fowlkes (Lee's Summit, Mo./St. Teresa's Academy), who got her head on a free kick by senior forward/midfielder Rose Augustin (Silver Lake, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) but sent the shot just high of the target.
The Fighting Irish finally broke through in the 74th minute on a play that started innocently enough. Henderson ran on a hopeful ball near the top of the box and was able to pry it loose from a defender. Desjardin quickly realized the impending danger, coming off her line to try and stop Henderson, but the Notre Dame striker took a calm touch to round the Georgetown goalkeeper, and Desjardin could do nothing more than bring down Henderson to prevent an empty-net score.
Henderson did the heavy lifting to set up the spot try and she was picture perfect on the penalty kick itself, sending Desjardin the wrong way to give the Fighting Irish a 1-0 lead at 73:31.
Following the score, the Hoyas pushed up even more offensive muscle to try and record the equalizer. Samantha Baker drilled a rising shot from the top of the box in the 77th minute, but it went high over the bar. Moments later, Baker tried to cause havoc in the Notre Dame penalty area with one of her long throw-ins, but the Fighting Irish defense cleared the ball away and freshman midfielder Mandy Laddish (Lee's Summit, Mo./Lee's Summit) broke free with Augustin and Henderson on a 3-v-2 break. Laddish dished to Augustin on the left, who took one touch 40 yards out and then sent a cross-field pass to Henderson on the right, but once again, Notre Dame's timing was fractions off the mark as Henderson was deemed offside.
Laddish had another prime chance in the 84th minute, as the Hoyas had trouble clearing one of Augustin's corner kicks. The ball landed with Laddish 12 yards out just to the left of the penalty spot, but the rookie's bid for the upper right 90 went awry.
Two minutes later, Georgetown had its tying score on a play started by one of Baker's bedeviling long throws that sailed into the penalty box and then pinballed through the Fighting Irish defense. The ball popped into the air in the goalmouth, eight yards out, where Trujillo rose up and blindly backheeled a shot towards the upper left 90. Caught in traffic, Weiss was able to get back to the post, but collided with the woodwork as she went to tip the ball over the frame. Instead, the ball caromed off the underside of the bar and dribbled over the goal line (85:51).
Notre Dame had the best chance by either team in extra time, as Augustin chipped the Georgetown backline in the 92nd minute, finding Leon racing through the left channel. The Canadian striker took a touch into the area and then uncorked a 10-yard sharp-angle blast that Desjardin did well to stop at the left post.
Notre Dame has earned a first-round bye for the 2010 BIG EAST Championship and will play host to a conference tournament quarterfinal match at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday against either Connecticut (No. 4 seed in American Division) or Louisville (No. 5 seed in National Division) at Alumni Stadium -- a live webcast, in-game blog and Gametracker stats for that contest will be available through the official Notre Dame athletics web site, www.UND.com.
Tickets for all 2010 Notre Dame soccer matches are available by contacting the Murnane Family Ticket Office by phone (574-631-7356) or in person (Gate 9 in the Rosenthal Atrium at Purcell Pavilion) from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) weekdays. Fans also can purchase tickets on-line through the official Notre Dame athletics ticketing web page (www.UND.com/tickets) or by visiting the ticket windows at Alumni Stadium on match day.
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.
-- ND --
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame went to overtime for the third time this season, going 0-1-2 in those contests, which all have come on the road (losing 2-1 at No. 13 UCLA on Sept. 10; tying 1-1 at Connecticut on Oct. 15) ... Notre Dame is 20-4-11 (.729) when going to extra time during the 12-year Randy Waldrum era (1999-present), now having gone unbeaten in nine of their last 10 overtime matches (5-1-4) dating back to the 2007 season ... the Fighting Irish are 3-for-5 on penalty kicks this season ... Notre Dame has allowed one goal or fewer in 31 of its last 33 matches, and improves to 405-10-16 (.958) all-time when giving up 0-1 goals in a match ... the Fighting Irish are 16-1-1 all-time against Georgetown, including a 6-1-1 mark at North Kehoe Field -- this was the Hoyas' first non-loss against Notre Dame since a 4-3 win over the Fighting Irish on Sept. 29, 2002 (their lone win in the series) ... Henderson secured the BIG EAST individual statistical titles for goals (10) and points (24) during conference play ... she also netted her 49th career goal and her 112 career points (49G-14A) moved her into a tie for 16th place in the school record books (Susie Zilvitis from 1988-91) ... Sunday's draw marked the second time in Henderson's three-year career that Notre Dame did not win a match in which she scored a goal or tallied a point -- the Fighting Irish now are 32-0-2 all-time when she scores a goal and 39-0-2 when she registers a point (which she's done in 14 of 18 matches this season and 21 of her last 28 outings dating back to last year).