Nov. 13, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Sophomore forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) scored twice, including her 30th career goal, while senior defender Haley Ford (Midland, Texas/Midland) added a goal and an assist, as fifth-ranked Notre Dame kicked off the 2009 NCAA Championship with a 5-0 win over Summit League champion IUPUI on Friday night at Alumni Stadium.
With the victory, the Fighting Irish advance to the NCAA round-of-32 for the 16th consecutive season, joining North Carolina as the only programs to make it to that level in every tournament since 1993. Notre Dame will next face Mid-American Conference champion Central Michigan in a second-round match on Sunday at 1 p.m. (ET) at Alumni Stadium -- the Chippewas earned a 2-0 win over 24th-ranked Purdue in Friday's early contest.
The Fighting Irish (18-3-1) extended their current winning streak to 10 games and their unbeaten string to 16 in a row (15-0-1) with a workmanlike effort that saw the hosts get on the board early, then steadily build up the lead to the point where they could rest some of their regulars. By game's end, 21 different Notre Dame players had taken the pitch, all for at least 13 minutes of action, with three of the Fighting Irish reserves notching career milestones.
Senior forward Rachel VanderGenugten (Schererville, Ind./Lake Central) scored the pivotal third goal of the night for Notre Dame with less than two minutes to go in the first half, registering her first career score in the process. Freshman midfielder Lindsay Brown (Ladera Ranch, Calif./Mater Dei) then assisted on Henderson's second goal of the night to pick up her first career point, before sophomore midfielder Brynn Gerstle (Louisville, Ky./Assumption) did the same when she set up an 86th-minute goal from sophomore midfielder Ellen Jantsch (Kansas City, Mo./St. Teresa's Academy).
Junior goalkeeper Nikki Weiss (Redding, Conn./Immaculate) went the first 65 minutes between the pipes for Notre Dame, making three saves before giving way to senior netminder Kelsey Lysander (San Diego, Calif./Rancho Bernardo), who stopped two shots to preserve the 14th Fighting Irish shutout of the season, and eighth in the past 11 games.
As a team, Notre Dame outshot IUPUI, 26-11, including a 14-5 margin in shots on goal. The Fighting Irish also edged the Jaguars in the corner kick column, 5-4, and were charged with 16 of the 21 fouls in the contest.
"We accomplished what we set out to do tonight, which is come away with a win, be able to both rest some of our starters and give others the opportunity to gain postseason experience," Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. "It certainly wasn't our cleanest performance of the season, and there's a lot we'll need to address in preparing for a very good Central Michigan team on Sunday. However, I was pleased with the level of play that some of our reserves showed tonight. That's the kind of effort we needed to get from everyone, right from the opening kickoff, and it's one of the key things we have to focus on if we want to continue forward in this tournament."
Playing host to first- and second-round games in the NCAA Championship for the 16th consecutive season, Notre Dame held a decided experience advantage over IUPUI, which was making its first-ever appearance in the NCAA tourney. That edge paid off less than eight minutes into the game, as sophomore midfielder Courtney Barg (Plano, Texas/Plano West) gathered the ball on her side of the midfield circle and swung a pass out to Henderson on the right flank near the center line. The speedy second-year Fighting Irish attacker then zig-zagged through the Jaguar defense all the way into the penalty area before finally beating IUPUI goalkeeper Jamie Farrell from eight yards out with a low left-footed shot (7:23).
Notre Dame had several chances to add to its lead during the next half-hour, but Farrell did well to keep her club in the game, picking up three of her eight saves in that span. However, a pair of set pieces late in the first half would be her undoing -- the first coming at the 39:22 mark, when sophomore midfielder Molly Campbell (Mission Hills, Kan./St. Teresa's Academy) served a corner kick from the left flag across the face of goal, that Brown headed back into the fray from the right side of the six-yard box. Ford snapped a quick header at the left post that was cleared off the line, but came right back to the veteran defender, who capitalized on the second opportunity by toe-poking a shot through the maze of IUPUI protectors into the near-side netting.
Campbell also started the sequence that led to VanderGenugten's score less than four minutes later, sending in a free kick from 35 yards out in the right channel. Ford once again got her head on the ball, this time flicking a pass to the left post, where VanderGenugten beat Farrell and another Jaguar defender to the punch with a timely finish from close range (43:08).
Henderson added her second goal of the night in the 54th minute, as Brown delivered a precise lead pass from the left side that connected with Henderson in the box. She quickly beat her mark with one touch and chipped the on-rushing Farrell inside the right post (53:57).
Jantsch closed out the Notre Dame scoring at the 85:08 mark, potting her second goal of the season (both in the past four games) by running on to a well-placed pass from Gerstle at the right edge of the six-yard box and beating Farrell with a sliding short-side shot.
The Fighting Irish now turn their attention to a CMU side that recorded its 19th shutout of the season with Friday's 2-0 whitewash of Purdue. Tickets for Sunday's second-round NCAA Championship game between Notre Dame and Central Michigan are available through the tickets page of the Notre Dame athletics web side (www.und.com/tickets) or by visiting the Alumni Stadium ticket windows on game day.
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame earns the 50th NCAA Championship win in program history, improving to 50-14-1 (.777) in NCAA postseason play, including a 40-3 (.930) record at home ... the Fighting Irish score five goals in their NCAA opener for the second consecutive season, having ousted Toledo, 5-2 at old Alumni Field to begin last year's tournament ... for the fifth consecutive year, a Fighting Irish player scored at least two goals in Notre Dame's NCAA Championship first-round win, with Henderson doing the honors this evening; previous players to accomplish that feat were: Amanda Cinalli (2005 vs. Valparaiso), Kerri Hanks (2006 hat trick vs. Oakland), Brittany Bock (2007 vs. Loyola-Chicago) and current Irish junior midfielder Rose Augustin (2008 vs. Toledo) ... for the second time in as many NCAA Championship home games, a Notre Dame player scored her first career goal, as Rachel VanderGenugten found the back of the net for the first time on Friday night; current Irish sophomore defender/tri-captain Jessica Schuveiller scored her first career goal in the 19th minute of last year's 2-0 NCAA quarterfinal win over sixth-ranked Florida State at old Alumni Field ... VanderGenugten is the 13th different Notre Dame player to score a goal this season, while the first career assists by Brown and Gerstle give the Fighting Irish 18 separate point scorers this year ... Henderson notches her third two-goal game of the season, and second in as many home games, after potting her second career hat trick in a 5-0 BIG EAST Conference quarterfinal win over South Florida on Nov. 1 ... Henderson's second score of the night also was momentous, as it was her 30th career goal in her 47th collegiate game; Notre Dame is 21-0 all-time when Henderson scores a goal (9-0 ths year) and 24-0 all-time when she tallies a point (10-0 this year) ... Henderson also scored her seventh game-winning goal of the season, putting her one away from the single-season school record jointly held by Michelle McCarthy (1994) and Katie Thorlakson (2004) ... Ford registered her second career multi-point game, having also logged a three-point night (G-A) last season at Cincinnati (Sept. 28, 2008) ... the Fighting Irish are 51-4-1 (.920) all-time against first-time visitors to campus, with Friday marking the first-ever meeting between Notre Dame and IUPUI ... since opening the season with a 3-3-0 record, Notre Dame is unbeaten in its last 16 games (15-0-1) and also has posted a 41-6 scoring margin during its current streak, with 11 shutouts (five solos by Weiss) in that run ... what's more, since falling to the nation's current top-ranked team, Stanford (2-0) on Sept. 13, Notre Dame has led or been tied for all but a total of 16:38 in the 1468:56 of game action during its present streak (1:18 at Cincinnati on Sept. 25; 15:20 at West Virginia on Oct. 2) ... the Fighting Irish move to 165-4-2 (.971) all-time at home against unranked teams (according to the NSCAA poll) ... other miscellaneous trends for Notre Dame: 314-0-1 all-time when taking a 2-0 lead in a game (291-0 since a 3-3 tie with Vanderbilt in Cincinnati on Sept. 15, 1991), and 398-9-16 (.960) when holding the opposition to 0-1 goals ... during the current 10-game home winning streak, Notre Dame has won by a combined score of 32-1 ... the Fighting Irish scored inside the opening 20 minutes of play for the 12th time this season, including each of the past five games ... Notre Dame and Central Michigan will meet for the first time in series history in Sunday's second-round game, which also will put two of the nation's longest active unbeaten streaks on the line -- the Fighting Irish have the fourth-longest run at 16 in a row, while the Chippewas are just ahead of them with an unblemished run of 18 straight (15-0-3).