Nov. 18, 2012
Rebecca Twining (Houston, Texas/Second Baptist School) and sophomore forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita) scored goals midway through each half to support a rock-solid Notre Dame defense as the No. RV/23 Fighting Irish charged into the NCAA Championship quarterfinals after a 2-0 win at No. 8/10 (and second-seeded) Florida on Sunday afternoon in third-round tournament action at Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, Fla.
The victory propels Notre Dame (16-5-2) into the NCAA's final eight for the eighth time in nine seasons and the 15th time in program history (10th in head coach Randy Waldrum's 14-year tenure under the Golden Dome). The Fighting Irish will return to the Sunshine State next weekend for their NCAA quarterfinal match, as they take on No. 7/4 (and top-seeded) Florida State at 7 p.m. (ET) Friday from the Seminole Soccer Complex in Tallahassee, Fla.
Twining gave Notre Dame all the offense it would need with her third goal of the season in the 20th minute. Freshman defender Brittany Von Rueden (Mequon, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels) cashed in the lone Fighting Irish corner kick of the afternoon with a pinpoint service to the top of the six-yard box, where Twining found space and buried a diving header from close range (19:43).
Bohaboy then added the insurance policy for the visitors in the 71st minute. After Notre Dame was able to pry the ball loose from the possession-based Gators 35 yards from goal, the ball caromed to Bohaboy, who was on a parallel run from the right along the top of the area. The second-year striker nimbly weaved through the Florida defense before opening a gap near the penalty spot to drive a low left-footed shot that caught UF goalkeeper Taylor Burke leaning the wrong way, tipping off the netminder's fingers and settling inside the right post (70:18).
Notre Dame finished with a slim 11-10 edge in total shots, with each team registering four shots on goal (and both clipping the woodwork once). Meanwhile, the Gators had a staggering 15-1 edge on corner kicks, but virtually none of those tries from the flag wound up seriously threatening the Fighting Irish net.
Freshman goalkeeper Elyse Hight (Edmond, Okla./Bishop McGuinness) was stellar for Notre Dame, making four saves, including a strong kick-save in the first half on the Gators' Annie Speese, and a sensational diving stop on a blast by UF's Erika Tymrak early in the second period when the Fighting Irish were still managing a tenuous one-goal lead.
"I'm just extremely proud of this young group of players," Waldrum said. "We've gone through the year with 12 freshmen and as many as six or seven starting throughout the year for us, so it's been a big learning curve for these guys, but I'm really proud of the way they've continued to grow each week.
"One of the things that we've been really good at all year is defense," he added. "Today, I thought we had to bend a whole lot defensively because they threw a lot at us, but I felt like we never really broke. We talked about having some patience on our defending. They were going to have the ball a bit, but we had to be patient and we'd pick our times to counter out of that, and we were really good with that today."
Florida (19-5-1) came out on the front foot for much of the opening 15 minutes, earning a handful of corner kicks and producing several promising looks through the attacking third, most notably Speese ringing the left post with a 10-yard drive in the ninth minute. However, Notre Dame was able to weather the early storm and then cranked up its own pressure to net the day's first goal.
Junior midfielder/tri-captain Elizabeth Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) created the corner kick opportunity for the Fighting Irish by stepping up to challenge a Florida defender trying to play out of her half of the pitch. Tucker ran on to the deflected clearance and raced down the right flank before her cross was played over the by-line for Von Rueden's decisive corner kick. Moments later, Twining's header not only gave Notre Dame a 1-0 lead, but it was the first shot on goal allowed by the Gators in this year's NCAA Championship.
Florida continued to pile up the corner kick chances, earning nine looks from the flag in the opening 45 minutes, while taking seven of the 11 shots in the first half. The Gators nearly broke through right in the first minute of the second half, with Tymrak orchestrating a give-and-go passing sequence at the top of the box with Adriana Leon, but the latter was flagged for being a step offside on the return pass and her shot on goal (which Hight saved anyway) was negated.
After both teams had their share of possession in the first 20 minutes of the second half (with Tymrak's drive on Hight the best for either side in that span), it was Bohaboy who broke through and broke the hearts of Gator fans in the process. Her goal also seemed to energize the Fighting Irish, who weren't content to rest on their two-score lead, nearly getting a third goal less than two minutes after Bohaboy's strike when junior midfielder/tri-captain Mandy Laddish (Lee's Summit, Mo./Lee's Summit) unleashed a rocket straight away from outside the box that beat Burke but rang hard off the crossbar.
Notre Dame would then fashion some of its strongest possession work of the match during the final quarter-hour, keeping Florida on its heels and expertly bleeding off the remaining time with extended stretches along the flanks and in the corners.
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POST-MATCH NOTES: Notre Dame is 15-1 all-time in NCAA Championship third-round matches (or their round-of-16 equivalent) with a 39-7 aggregate score in those contests ... the Fighting Irish have won their last eight NCAA third-round contests since a 1-0 loss at Stanford in 2002 ... this was Notre Dame's first NCAA Championship shutout since the 2010 national championship match, when the Fighting Irish defeated Stanford, 1-0 in Cary, N.C. ... Notre Dame raises its all-time record in NCAA Championship play to 62-16-1 (.791), including 7-3-1 (.682) when playing on an opponent's home pitch in the NCAA Championship, with this marking the first true road win for the Fighting Irish in the NCAAs since Nov. 26, 2010 (a 2-0 win at sixth-ranked Oklahoma State in the quarterfinal round) ... Notre Dame is 46-11-1 (.802) in NCAA Championship contests during the Waldrum era (1999-present) ... the Fighting Irish jump to 3-4-1 against ranked opponents this season, defeating Top 25 foes in consecutive matches for the first time since the final five matches of their 2010 national championship run when they defeated No. 22 USC (4-0), No. 3 North Carolina (4-1), No. 6 Oklahoma State (2-0), No. 17 Ohio State (1-0) and No. 1 Stanford (1-0), with the last four all coming away from home (UNC and Oklahoma State road, Ohio State and Stanford neutral) ... the Fighting Irish are 6-0-1 all-time against Southeastern Conference (SEC) opponents, including a 4-0-1 record away from home ... Notre Dame moves to 3-0 all-time against Florida, posting its second consecutive 2-0 win in Gainesville in the series (also Sept. 2, 2007) ... Notre Dame continues to enjoy playing in the state of Florida, moving to 7-1-2 (.889) all-time in the Sunshine State, going unbeaten in their last eight matches there (6-0-2) ... Twining's goal was the first of her career in the NCAA Championship ... Von Rueden has a team-high seven assists this season, including helpers in all three Fighting Irish NCAA wins thus far ... Notre Dame continues its remarkable run of success when taking a 2-0 lead, improving to 341-0-1 all-time with that advantage, including wins in its last 318 such matches.
Notre Dame 1 - 1 -- 2
Florida 0 - 0 -- 0
Total Shots: Notre Dame 11 (4-7), Florida 10 (7-3)
Shots On Goal: Notre Dame 4 (2-2), Florida 4 (2-2)
Saves: Notre Dame 4 (Elyse Hight 4 in 90:00), Florida 4 (Taylor Burke 4 in 90:00)
Corner Kicks: Notre Dame 1 (1-0), Florida 15 (9-6)
Fouls: Notre Dame 8 (4-4), Florida 9 (5-4)
Offsides: Notre Dame 0, Florida 2
Records: Notre Dame 16-5-2; Florida 19-5-1