Nov. 19, 2017
By Megan Golden
COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- The University of Notre Dame women’s soccer team fell 3-2 to No. 23 Baylor in a heartbreaking overtime loss in the NCAA Sweet 16.
The Irish, which advanced to the third round of the NCAA Championship for the first time since 2014, came just shy of securing a comeback victory over the Bears at Ellis Field on Sunday.
How It Happened
Sporting its home whites, Notre Dame connected short, quick passes to crack Baylor’s defense early. The Irish, utilizing five defenders, pushed the ball forward and focused on making cuts and sending the ball through to the attacking third.
Baylor controlled possession for the majority of the final 10 minutes in the half. In the 42nd minute, the Bears’ Lauren Piercy kicked the ball around between the Irish backline and scored (41:02) in the top right of the net, giving the Bears a 1-0 halftime lead.
Baylor opened the second half with a goal at the 46:32 mark. Nicholas punched the ball away on the Bears’ initial shot, but Kennedy Brown was there to score on the rebound and put Baylor up, 2-0.
Notre Dame answered in the 54th minute, when senior Taylor Klawunder scored her first goal of the season on a ball from Natalie Jacobs. Klawunder’s score cut the Irish deficit to 2-1.
Just four minutes later, Notre Dame responded as freshman Eva Hurm sent the ball into the box. The ball deflected off the defender’s leg and landed at the feet of Jennifer Westendorf, who scored her 10th goal of the season (57:24) and evened the score at two goals apiece.
The game increased in intensity toward the latter part of the second half. Notre Dame had several chances offensively. The Irish drew 14 fouls in the match (Notre Dame fouled four times) and set up numerous free kicks past midfield, but the Irish could not finish the comeback in regulation.
The Bears came out firing in the first overtime, sending one shot off the crossbar and another just high of the goal. At the 96:47 mark, Baylor connected on a corner kick as Precious Akanyirige scored the golden goal to secure a 3-2 Bears win.
Note of the Match
Ten different Irish players tallied at least one point in Notre Dame’s 2017 NCAA Championship games, the most since 11 players did so in 2008.
Coach Romagnolo Said…
On the game...
“It is difficult because we have ended that way a lot this season. We just have not been able to finish plays so I think it has summed up a lot of our disappointing losses that we have faced. Credit to them [Baylor]. They are very physical and do a great job of contesting everything in the air and winning every little loose ball and on that one play we did not match it.”
On the team’s comeback in the second half…
“I thought that the goals we allowed were very poor, so I don’t think by any means they were all over us. It was definitely a game where we could have come back, which we did. But again, to put yourself down 2-0 on goals you don’t need, you just dig a big hole. So, yeah, we came back, but at the end of the day, they [Baylor] won.”
- Notre Dame’s 46 goals in 2017 are 20 more than it recorded in 2016 (26). The team’s 46 goals are its most since 2012 (46). The last time in totaled more was in 2010 (55).
- Sixteen different Notre Dame players recorded a point in 2017, the most since 17 accomplished the feat in 2013.
Megan Golden, athletics communications assistant director at the University of Notre Dame, has been part of the Fighting Irish athletics communications team since August of 2016. In her role, she coordinates all media efforts for the Notre Dame women's soccer and cross country/track and field programs. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Golden is a 2014 graduate of Saint Mary's College and former Irish women’s basketball manager. Prior to arriving at Notre Dame, she worked in public relations with the Cleveland Indians and Chicago White Sox.