Oct. 24, 2013
Freshman midfielder Morgan Andrews (Milford, N.H./Milford) collected a goal and two assists, while senior midfielder/tri-captain Mandy Laddish (Lee's Summit, Mo./Lee's Summit) added a goal and an assist to help the Fighting Irish put an emphatic end to their rare four-match losing streak with a 3-1 win over Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) rival Boston College on Thursday evening at Alumni Stadium.
Junior forward Karin Simonian (Westbury, N.Y./W.T. Clarke) got Notre Dame on the board just before halftime, while sophomore defender Brittany Von Rueden (Mequon, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels) rekindled her playmaking abilities with a second-half assist in the final regular-season home match for the Fighting Irish (10-5-1, 6-4-1 ACC).
BC spoiled the shutout with less than four minutes remaining when Kate McCarthy pulled back a consolation score, but it wasn't enough as a determined Notre Dame side looked sharp from the opening whistle and eager to get back in the win column for the first time in more than three weeks.
Freshman goalkeeper Kaela Little (Tulsa, Okla./Bishop Kelley) made two saves in the Fighting Irish nets, while BC's Jessica Mickelson turned aside five shots while getting the start for the Eagles in place of their normal starting goalkeeper, Alex Johnson, who was sidelined after receiving a red card at Miami four days earlier.
Notre Dame finished with a 16-10 edge in total shots, as well as an 8-3 advantage in shots on goal. Boston College shaded the Fighting Irish on corner kicks, 3-2, as well as fouls, 6-5.
"It's so important (to get the win) after a couple of weekends where we weren't getting results," Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. "It's that time of the year where every point matters. We've had some really good training the past two weeks, and I'm really pleased with the way this team has stuck together and supported each other through some rough patches, and it was nice to see that get rewarded tonight."
Playing on a slick turf after mixed precipitation fell on South Bend the past two days, it took the better part of the first half for both teams to find their footing. Notre Dame eventually began to build up its possession game and applied steady pressure on the Eagles' back line, with Andrews getting the first good look of the night for either team in the 29th minute, knocking down a clearance on the left side of the box and firing a 12-yard shot from a tight angle that Mickelson alertly snared.
The Fighting Irish midfield was on its game all night, and Laddish nearly connected with Simonian on a well-weighted through-ball in the right channel in the 33rd minute, but just as the third-year striker went to squeeze off her shot, the offside flag went up, negating the opportunity.
BC (8-8-1, 4-6-1) had a dangerous chance in the 42nd minute on a timely counterattack, thanks in part to their double-digit goal scorers Stephanie McCaffrey (10 goals) and McKenzie Meehan (15 goals). McCaffrey weaved through the center of the pitch into the attacking third, before sliding a pass down the left side of the box for an onrushing Meehan, who tried to beat Little to the far right post, but the shot was off the mark.
Notre Dame made that miss look even larger moments later, grabbing some critical momentum in the process. Freshman forward Rilka Noel (West Bloomfield, Mich./Marian) collected a pass at the top of the left channel and deftly backheeled a pass to her fellow rookie, Andrews on an overlapping run. In turn, Andrews whipped a low cross through the top of the box, with Laddish making a dummy run towards the pass, although the ball clipped her heel on the way through. Simonian gathered in the cross at the top right corner, turned and cracked a hard shot from 15 yards out into the far left side-netting with exactly one minute left in the first half.
"Those kinds of goals are huge because they're backbreakers," Waldrum said. "It's one of those situations where you think you have it under control and then you have to come back out and try to regain some momentum, so it was really important for us. She (Simonian) did a great job on showing some composure around her finish."
Flying high off that late first-half goal, Notre Dame rode its elation to a second score just 3:01 into the second half. Playing the ball on the right side, Von Rueden had enough room to drive a cross to the heart of the area. Mickelson was late to react and couldn't beat Andrews to the ball, as the Fighting Irish freshman went high to head her fifth goal of the season inside the right post.
Andrews almost picked up another assist in the 52nd minute, driving to the right end line before snapping a laser service through the goalmouth. Freshman forward Kaleigh Olmsted (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands) was on a run from the back side and got on the receiving end of Andrews' cross, but her volley from 10 yards out just sailed over the bar.
Only a minute later, Olmsted was back on the offensive, this time working a deft give-and-go with junior forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita) along the left flank. Bohaboy then lofted a cross into the box, but Andrews couldn't get full power on her header and Mickelson was there for the stop.
"The midfield and forwards really worked well," Waldrum said. "We were creative and had some bite to our offense tonight, and I thought our forwards did a nice job of finding space behind their back line for some good chances. Then you had the midfielders, who were able to control the tempo throughout the game and keep that pressure on."
In the 58th minute, Olmsted tried again, as Andrews switched fields for her classmate on a left-side run. Olmsted charged into the area, cut back on her defender and had a look at a tight-angle shot from 12 yards out towards the near (left) post, but Mickelson was well-positioned and held her ground once more.
Midway through the second half, Boston College pushed nearly all its chips into the pot by switching to the more offensive-minded 3-4-3 formation. The move nearly paid off in the 74th minute, as McCaffrey found room along the right channel before threading a pass ahead for Meehan in the area. However, as they did all night, Notre Dame's center backs -- junior Sammy Scofield (Geneva, Ill./Geneva) and sophomore tri-captain Katie Naughton (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Elk Grove) -- were right there to cut off the Eagles' forward momentum, angling Meehan slightly away from goal, and her subsequent shot skipped wide.
Meehan had one of her team's best chances of the night in the 84th minute, again thanks to the hard work of McCaffrey, whose right-side run yielded a square pass towards the penalty spot. Meehan was poised and ready to strike, but Little slid over to block the low shot, smothering any potential rebound when the ball squirted slightly behind her on the wet turf.
"Those two (McCaffrey and Meehan) are really dangerous and I thought Sammy and Katie did a terrific job of keeping them in check for the most part," Waldrum said. "Kaela didn't have a whole lot of action tonight, but when they did get a look or two, she was right there to answer the call."
Notre Dame erased all doubt of Thursday's result less than a minute later. Laddish gathered a pass near the top of the attacking third and fed Andrews on a run along the right edge of the box. Andrews got by her defender before pulling back a low cross into the area, where three Fighting Irish forwards were on the move. In possibly her final home contest at Notre Dame, Laddish ended up as the beneficiary of the service, sliding in to bury her second goal of the season from eight yards away (84:35).
"It's kind of bittersweet," Laddish said in regard to the final regular-season home match. "I haven't been scoring a lot, so I'm kind of bitter about that, but it's also sad that it may be one of the last times I score a goal on this field unless we get a home game in the (ACC or NCAA) tournament. It was a nice way to go out."
McCarthy gave Boston College a small measure of pride, scoring on a short-range header off Lauren Bernard's free kick from the right channel with 3:19 to play. However, it would be the only blemish for Notre Dame, as the hosts sent the Alumni Stadium faithful out with a deserved victory.
The Fighting Irish wore special (nearly) all-white uniforms on Thursday, with the jerseys to be auctioned off and the proceeds going to The SEGway Project, a non-profit organization founded by former Notre Dame forward Lindsay Brown ('13) that uses soccer to empower girls in the developing world. The on-line jersey auction, which continues through noon (ET) Friday at UND.com/auctions, already has raised more than $3,500 for the charity.
Notre Dame heads back out on the road for its final two regular season matches, beginning at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday when it pays a visit to Clemson. The match will be streamed live from Riggs Field in Clemson, S.C., on ESPN3.
For more information on the Fighting Irish women's soccer program, follow Notre Dame on Twitter (@NDsoccernews or @NDsoccer), like the Fighting Irish on Facebook (facebook.com/NDWomenSoccer) or sign up for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the "Fan Center" pulldown menu on the main page at UND.com.
#20/12 Notre Dame 3, Boston College 1
Boston College 0 1 -- 1
Total Shots: BC 10 (4-6), ND 16 (6-10)
-- Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director