Oct. 30, 2016
By Joanne Norell
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Another late goal in a tightly battled defensive stalemate gave the University of Notre Dame women's soccer team a lift, this time to keep their ACC tournament championship title hopes alive in a 1-0 victory over NC State on Sunday at Alumni Stadium.
Junior forward Kaitlin Klawunder buried a rebound shot with less than three minutes left in regulation to give the Irish the lead, tracking on junior forward Karin Muya's header attempt and slipping it into the far post beyond Wolfpack goalkeeper Sydney Wootten.
The goal punctuated a late offensive surge by the Irish, who had struggled throughout most of the first 70 minutes to create scoring opportunities. As time wound down, the Irish spent more time on the ball in their offensive third, culminating in the late score.
NC State (10-8-1) outshot the Irish (12-2-4) 11-6, including 6-3 in shots on goal. It was the fifth straight shutout for the Irish and senior goalkeeper Kaela Little (six saves), who have still allowed just one goal at home all season.
It was the second game of the season in which the Irish registered a late goal to seal a 1-0 win. The Irish closed out the regular-season road slate with a goal in the 88th minute against Wake Forest on October 23.
Play of the Game
With the clock winding toward zero in the second half, sophomore defender Natalie Ward sent a cross into the goal box from the right flank, where it met with the converging Irish attack. Muya got the initial head on it to pop it back up and Klawunder flushed it over the head of Wootten for her third goal of the season.
Player of the Game
Kaitlin Klawunder was the latest clutch actor for the Irish, giving the Irish the late lead on her only shot of the game.
Kaela Little recorded her fifth straight shutout and 12th of the season, making six saves. Her diving save of Rikki Walkling's shot in the 21st minute was the biggest of the day to keep the Wolfpack off the board.
The Irish switched things up at halftime, converting from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-3-3, which proved to be a better matchup to allow the Irish more time on the ball.
Coach Theresa Romagnolo Says
On the competitiveness of the game...
"I thought it was a tough game. I thought a lot went into Thursday night's performance and, I think for teams across the board, having to travel, I think people were just a little bit tired. I think we looked a little bit tired. We switched what we were doing in the second half and I thought it helped us. We had people in better spaces on the field and I thought we defended better in the second half and created a couple of great chances. Kaitlin coming off the bench was a huge lift for us; it was awesome."
On the second-half adjustments...
"We went into a 4-3-3 and I thought we just matched up with them and made it a simpler game. It gave us some numbers in the middle of the field to win 50-50s. In our other system, we weren't sliding very well, or were just a step slow, so I felt in a 4-3-3 we matched up with them and won 1-v-1 battles."
On the team defense...
"Kaela was tested today and was very solid in the air, on shots. We allowed more shots than we would have liked to day, but they were from distance and I feel pretty confident in Kaela being able to deal with those."
On looking ahead to North Carolina in the ACC semifinal...
"I haven't been thinking about Carolina because I've been thinking about other teams, so we'll go back and watch that tape, look at the things we did well, what we need to do better, and prepare this week for that matchup."
Notes of the Game
- The Irish will face 16th-ranked and fourth-seeded North Carolina (12-3-3) in the ACC Championship semifinal at 5:30 p.m. ET Friday at MUSC Health Stadium. The Tar Heels defeated No. 7 and fifth-seeded Virginia 3-0 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on Sunday.
- The Irish are back into the ACC Championship semifinal for the third time in four years. The Irish qualified for the then-four-team conference tournament in both 2013 and 2014.
- All three of Klawunder's goals this season have been game-winners.
-- ND --
Joanne Norell, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since 2014 and coordinates communications efforts for the Notre Dame women's soccer, men's tennis, women's tennis and fencing programs. Norell is a 2011 graduate of Purdue University, where she earned a bachelor's degree in mass communication, and earned her master's degree in sports industry management from Georgetown University in 2013.