Nov. 3, 2013
EDITOR'S NOTE: Subsequent to the writing of this recap, Notre Dame filed an appeal with the NCAA regarding the assessment of Elizabeth Tucker's first yellow card. That appeal was upheld and that first yellow card at 65:56 was rescinded, thereby also rescinding her red card and ejection and allowing her to play in the team's next match. The corrected box scores are linked and the correct agate box score is listed below. However, the match result from the contest at Virginia Tech remains final.
In a season that has seen Notre Dame face so many trials it would make the biblical Job sit up and take notice, the Fighting Irish took another gut punch on Sunday, falling 2-1 in double-overtime at Virginia Tech on Jazmine Reeves' golden goal with 1:13 remaining in the second extra period.
Notre Dame played the final 33-plus minutes one player down after senior defender/tri-captain Elizabeth Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) received her second yellow card of the match at 75:24, with both cards coming less than 10 minutes apart. They were the first two yellow cards of Tucker's career, with the two-year Fighting Irish captain now facing a mandatory one-match suspension if Notre Dame is selected for the NCAA Championship when the bracket is announced Nov. 11.
Sunday's result was the fourth time this season (all in the past 24 days) that Notre Dame (11-7-1) has lost in double overtime, with three of those coming on the road at top-five opponents (No. 1 Virginia, No. 3 Florida State and No. 5 Virginia Tech). What's more, it's the sixth one-goal loss of the season for the Fighting Irish, with five of those coming on goals in the final 11 minutes of regulation or overtime and all five against top-10 opponents (Notre Dame also dropped 1-0 decisions to No. 4/2 UCLA on a goal with 10:53 left in regulation, and at No. 10/12 Virginia Tech in the regular season on a goal with 3:45 to play in regulation).
The past two Fighting Irish losses in the past four days have been particularly excruciating, as both came on the road after the Fighting Irish led at halftime, only to see their top-five opponent rally to force extra time, then score with less than six minutes to go in the second added period (on Thursday, Florida State won 2-1 on a goal with 5:36 left in the second OT).
"It may sound like a broken record, but I'm so incredibly proud of the effort and the heart we showed today," Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. "Our ladies had every possible challenge thrown at them, going down a player, having numerous other key players go down with injuries, and then going into overtime on the road for the second time in four days in a conference tournament setting. I don't know if we can ask any more of them than they're already showing. Even in the face of all this adversity, they are representing Notre Dame with a tremendous amount of class and integrity and I couldn't be prouder to be their head coach."
Virginia Tech finished with a 31-14 edge in total shots (including all 14 after Tucker was sent off), while the shots-on-goal count was much tighter at 10-7 to the hosts. The Hokies also earned all 12 corner kicks in the match, while the Fighting Irish received all five yellow cards that were handed out during the afternoon.
Freshman goalkeeper Kaela Little (Tulsa, Okla./Bishop Kelley) was superb in the Notre Dame goal, making eight saves to keep the Fighting Irish firmly in contention. Meanwhile, Virginia Tech's Dayle Colpitts recorded six saves for the hosts.
Junior forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita) staked Notre Dame to a 1-0 lead at 27:24, heading in a left-side cross from freshman forward Kaleigh Olmsted (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands), with freshman midfielder Morgan Andrews (Milford, N.H./Milford) earning the secondary assist on the play after a pinpoint cross-field pass to spring Olmsted.
Virginia Tech (15-3-2) drew level at 56:36 after Notre Dame junior defender Sammy Scofield (Geneva, Ill./Geneva) was whistled for a foul just inside the midfield stripe after going up to head a 50/50 ball. On Jodie Zelenky's ensuing free kick, the ball landed in the heart of the penalty area, with Hokie defender Candace Cephers finding herself in the right place at the right time, turning and poking home the equalizer through traffic from eight yards out.
That sequence turned out to be the first in several game-changing moments during the next 20 minutes. The most dubious of those came at 65:56, when Notre Dame sophomore defender Cari Roccaro (East Islip, N.Y./East Islip) pushed Cephers near the top of the penalty area while the two were setting up prior to a Virginia Tech free kick, with Hokies' midfielder Ashley Meier then retaliating by pushing Roccaro. The center official stopped the clock and came over to confer with the assistant referee on that side of the pitch. The center official then assessed yellow cards to Roccaro and Tucker, who apparently both the lead and assistant referee confused for Cephers (Tucker wears jersey No. 8, while Cephers wears jersey No. 18 - Meier, who retaliated, wears jersey No. 15).
"I got tangled up with their player (Cephers) and I deserved to get the yellow, but Tucker wasn't anywhere close to me and their player when it happened," Roccaro said. "I thought he (the center official) was calling her over because she's our captain to have her tell me to calm down, so I think we were both shocked when she (Tucker) got a yellow, too."
It was a clerical error that would prove costly 10 minutes later. Tucker stepped up to defend Virginia Tech's Murielle Tiernan, but the Hokie striker turned and got a step on the Fighting Irish senior, who was then forced to commit a professional foul with a tug on Tiernan's jersey. That infraction brought with it another yellow card to Tucker and resulting in her being sent off in a 1-1 match with 14:36 left in regulation.
Now forced to adopt a defensive stance, Little and the Notre Dame battened down the hatches and spent the better part of the next half-hour repelling every possible Virginia Tech offensive thrust, including a handful of dangerous free kick chances within 30 yards of goal, as well as getting help from the crossbar when Cephers rang the woodwork in the second overtime.
Little herself led the Fighting Irish defensive regiment in its own recreation of The Alamo, making two stellar saves in overtime, the second a terrific leaping stop moving to her right to deny the Hokies' Shannon Mayrose with 1:55 left in the second overtime.
That save resulted in a Virginia Tech corner kick from the left side, which was then blocked out for a second try, this time from the right flag. On that service, Kelsey Loupee drove a low ball towards the near (right) post, where Reeves was making a late run and redirected the ball inside the frame past a pair of Fighting Irish defenders (108:47).
"It was especially frustrating because our defense had played so well up that point, especially after we went down to 10 players," Waldrum said. "It looked like we were going to take it to penalty kicks and then they cash in on their last really good chance of the game.
"We're going to have some time off to rest and recuperate during the next few days while we wait for the (NCAA) bracket to come out," he added. "It will be good for us to let our minds and bodies heal a little and then come back refreshed and recharged for the tournament."
Notre Dame now must wait to learn if it will receive an at-large bid to the 2013 NCAA Championship, with the 64-team field to be announced at 4:30 p.m. (ET) Nov. 11 during the tournament selection show that will be streamed live online at NCAA.com.
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#5/5 Virginia Tech 2, #19/10 Notre Dame 1 (2OT)
Notre Dame 1 0 0 0 -- 1
Total Shots: ND 14 (8-6-0-0), VT 30 (9-13-3-6)
-- Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director