Nov. 2, 2012
EAST HARTFORD, Conn. - No. 25/20 Notre Dame gave No. 15/10 Marquette all it wanted in Friday's BIG EAST Championship semifinal, but the Golden Eagles eventually managed a goal with 18:40 to play to claim a 1-0 victory over the Fighting Irish at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Conn.
After a physical and largely defensive standoff through the first 70 minutes, Marquette (15-2-2) broke through when Ally Miller registered the first shot on goal by either team in the second half (and one of two in the period, both by MU), converting a short-range header off a free kick from Maegan Kelly. Notre Dame (13-5-2) elevated its offensive pressure down the stretch in search of the equalizer, but came up empty and was eliminated in the semifinal round of the conference tournament for the second consecutive season.
Marquette finished with a narrow 13-11 edge in total shots, as well as a 7-2 advantage in shots on goal and 4-2 margin on corner kicks. The teams also combined for 30 fouls (Notre Dame 19-11), with the Fighting Irish also picking up the lone yellow card of the afternoon.
Freshman goalkeeper Elyse Hight (Edmond, Okla./Bishop McGuinness) was superb between the pipes for Notre Dame, making six saves, including a pair of point-blank stops in the first half. Amanda Engel earned the shutout in the Marquette goal, registering two saves.
"It's always disappointing when you don't reach your goal, but I think today's loss was particularly frustrating," Fighting Irish head coach Randy Waldrum said. "We had done a pretty good job of keeping their offense in check, and that's a credit to our back line and particularly Elyse (Hight) in goal. But then we have a breakdown on a set piece and that one mistake ends up being the difference. We also needed to be sharper in the final third, and that's something we'll take a look at in the next few days as we get ready for the start of the NCAA tournament."
After both teams spent the first 10 minutes feeling each other out, Marquette had the first prime scoring chance of the match, as Rachel Sloan found a crease near the top of the six-yard box and drove a header towards the left post. However, Hight was equal to the task, diving to her right and tipping the ball off-target (10:45).
A little more than two minutes later, Notre Dame had its own golden scoring opportunity with a close-range header. Senior defender/tri-captain Jazmin Hall (Highland Village, Texas/Marcus) made a timely run down the left flank before whipping a dangerous cross into the goal mouth. Freshman forward Cari Roccaro (East Islip, N.Y./East Islip) found herself unmarked at the edge of the six, but slightly rushed her header and the ball didn't end up going on frame (12:55).
The Golden Eagles had another good look in the 31st minute, as Kelly sent a corner kick through traffic, with the ball headed back across the face of goal to Emily Jacobson near the left post. However, Jacobson wasn't able to get much on her toe-poke shot from eight yards out and Hight was able to smother the rebound and avoid any further danger.
Notre Dame came out strong to open the second half, logging four of the first five shots in the period, but none managed to find their way on goal. The Fighting Irish also earned a pair of free kicks in the attacking third during the opening 15 minutes of the second half, yet neither would result in optimal scoring chances.
At the other end, Marquette weathered the storm and eventually managed to make its first strong scoring chance of the second half pay off. Sloan found some room to run on the left flank, going stride for stride with Notre Dame freshman defender Katie Naughton (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Elk Grove), but Sloan just got past Naughton, who was forced to bring down the Golden Eagle forward just outside the left edge of the box.
On the ensuing free kick, Kelly drove her service across the face, and Miller shook free from her mark to snap a header from the top of the six-yard box high into the upper right corner of the net (71:20). It was the first goal allowed by Hight in 473:38 of action, a streak that dated back to Sept. 9 at Washington.
Shortly after the Marquette goal, Notre Dame had a great chance to draw level, as sophomore defender Taylor Schneider (Southlake, Texas/Carroll Senior) was bowled over in the left channel, 22 yards from goal. Sophomore forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita) stepped up and curled a very threatening ball towards goal, but the shot sailed a couple of feet over the bar (73:45), taking with it the best remaining Fighting Irish scoring opportunity of the match.
Notre Dame now turns its attention to the 2012 NCAA Championship, with the announcement of the 64-team tournament field set for 4:30 p.m. (ET) Monday live at NCAA.com (LIVE STREAM LINK HERE). First-round matches will be played during the weekend of Nov. 9-11, followed by second- and third-round contests Nov. 16 & 18, respectively, and the tournament quarterfinals on the weekend of Nov. 23-25. All four preliminary rounds will be played at campus sites around the country before the scene shifts to Torero Stadium in San Diego, Calif., for the NCAA Women's College Cup semifinals (Nov. 30) and national championship match (Dec. 2).
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POST-MATCH NOTES: Notre Dame falls to 37-5-1 (.872) in BIG EAST Championship matches, including a 13-3 record in the semifinal round (where the Fighting Irish still have a 47-8 aggregate scoring margin) ... Notre Dame drops to 7-5-1 all-time against Marquette, with Friday marking the first loss for the Fighting Irish against the Golden Eagles in six all-time BIG EAST Championship contests (Notre Dame most recently won last year's quarterfinal, 1-0 in Milwaukee) ... the past four matches in the Notre Dame-Marquette series each have been decided by one goal (one in overtime), with both schools winning twice in that span ... Marquette was the sixth ranked opponent for the Fighting Irish this season, with Notre Dame now 1-4-1 against Top 25 foes this year (2-1 win over No. 24/16 Santa Clara, 1-1 draw at No. 19/18 Portland), although two of the four losses have been 1-0 decisions (also Sept. 2 vs. No. 19 North Carolina) ... Hight's scoreless streak in the Fighting Irish nets ended at 473:38, dating back to a goal by Washington's Jaclyn Softli at 37:50 on Sept. 9 in Seattle ... Notre Dame registered a season-high 19 fouls (previous was 17 at Connecticut on Sept. 30) and tied its season-low mark with two corner kicks (previous was two against North Carolina on Sept. 2).
Notre Dame 0 - 0 - 0
MU 1. Ally Miller 5 (Maegan Kelly) 71:20.
Total Shots: Notre Dame 11 (2-9), Marquette 13 (9-4)