Nov. 20, 2009
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Junior midfielder Rose Augustin (Silver Lake, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) scored her seventh goal of the season in the 62nd minute, as fifth-ranked (and second-seeded) Notre Dame advanced to the quarterfinals of the NCAA Championship for the sixth consecutive year with a hard-fought 1-0 win over upset-minded Oregon State on Friday night before a boisterous crowd of 1,500 fans at Alumni Stadium.
With the victory, the Fighting Irish (20-3-1) set up yet another rematch with Florida State deep in the NCAA Championship, as the teams will square off in the postseason for the fourth consecutive season, with all four meetings coming in the quarterfinals (final-8) or later. In another ironic twist, all four games will have been played at different locations, with the national semifinal encounters played at neutral sites in 2006 (Cary, N.C. - ND 2-1) and 2007 (College Station, Texas - FSU 3-2), while last year's quarterfinal match (ND 2-0) took place at old Alumni Field. This season's final-8 showdown -- a battle of the top two seeds in this quadrant of the NCAA Championship bracket -- is slated for the Seminole Soccer Complex in Tallahassee, Fla., next weekend, although the exact date and time of the quarterfinal have not yet been announced.
Augustin's goal was her third career game-winner in NCAA tournament play, and it was made possible by a brilliant individual effort from sophomore forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner), who picked up a point for the fourth consecutive game and now has 21 points (9G-2A) in the postseason this year.
Junior goalkeeper Nikki Weiss (Redding, Conn./Immaculate) made four saves in the Notre Dame net to earn her first career solo shutout in the postseason. Oregon State actually outshot Notre Dame, 14-12 in the contest, although the Fighting Irish held a 5-4 edge in shots on goal. The Beavers earned three of the four corner kicks, and were called for 14 fouls (along with the lone caution), compared to 12 infractions for the host school.
"Hats off to Oregon State -- they really played an outstanding game tonight, particularly in the first half when they had us back on our heels a bit," Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. "I thought we did a better job of adjusting to the flow of the game and started to dictate the pace better in the second half, but it was still a grind, and that's what you have to expect when you get further along in the (NCAA) tournament. When it came down to it, Mel made a terrific run and Rose came through with a clinical finish, and that turned the momentum around for us. We also had some tremendous crowd support tonight and they really made a difference for us, especially down the stretch when we were working to close things out."
The first half was played largely in the middle third of the field, but OSU (14-8-1) seemed to do a better job of capitalizing on its opportunities, outshooting Notre Dame, 5-1, and gaining all three of its corner kicks in the opening 45 minutes. The best threat for the Beavers came in the 41st minute, when Rachel Axon hit a dipping shot from outside the penalty area that short-hopped Weiss in the goal mouth, but before Jessica Velazquez could latch on to the loose ball, Fighting Irish sophomore defender/tri-captain Jessica Schuveiller (Plano, Texas/Plano West) was there to sweep the ball out of trouble and keep the game scoreless at the half.
Notre Dame evened out the run of play after the intermission, but didn't get its first good look on frame until the hour mark, when Henderson burst down the right side, cut back at the top right corner of the box and unleashed a wicked left-footed blast that just twisted wide of the far post.
That shot appeared to awaken not only the Fighting Irish players, but the crowd as well, and it paid off a little more than a minute later. In a near mirror image to her previous run, Henderson got past one defender on the right flank, then weaved by another mark at the edge of the penalty area. Then, just as she appeared to be losing control of the ball, she alertly toe-poked a pass across the face of goal, where Augustin nearly overran the play, but put on the brakes and muscled a right-footed shot into the lower left corner of the net past diving OSU netminder Colleen Boyd (61:35).
Not 25 seconds after the Notre Dame goal, Oregon State almost got the equalizer, as Red Nixon (who returned as a substitute following the Augustin score) cracked a shot from the top of the box that just glanced off the outside of the right post. Boyd then had to be alert, as Augustin bid for a second tally in the 65th minute, collecting a rebound of her blocked free kick and whistling a drive through traffic to the right post that the Beaver goalkeeper did well to save with a dive to her left.
Boyd would make three more saves in the final quarter-hour, while Oregon State pressed for the tying goal by sending three, and eventually four forwards into the offensive third. However, the Fighting Irish defense stood fast, blocking two of the Beavers' four shots, a third went wide, and the last -- a desperation shot by Melinda Ingalls off a flurry in the final three minutes -- saved by Weiss.
The NCAA Division I Women's Soccer Committee will make the official determination on the date and start time of the Notre Dame-Florida State quarterfinal no later than Sunday night. Check back to UND.com for more information as it becomes available.
POST GAME NOTES: The four-year run of Notre Dame-Florida State matchups in the NCAA Championship final-8 or later will tie for the longest such streak with so much on the line in NCAA tourney history -- North Carolina and North Carolina State met in the NCAA quarterfinals or later every year from 1988-91, as did UCLA and Portland from 2004-07 ... the Fighting Irish are set to make their sixth consecutive trip to the NCAA final-8, with that run only one shy of the school record for most consecutive NCAA quarterfinal berths (1994-2000), and tied with Portland for the second-longest active run in the country (UCLA booked its seventh straight trip on Friday night) ... it's also slated to be the 13th NCAA quarterfinals appearance for Notre Dame, which ranks fifth all-time behind North Carolina (25, pending Saturday's round-of-16 matchup with Maryland), Connecticut (18), Santa Clara and Portland (14 each) ... Notre Dame moves to 52-14-1 (.784) all-time in NCAA postseason play (the 52 wins and .784 winning percentage are second-best in tournament history), including a 42-3 (.933) record at home ... the Fighting Irish and Oregon State were meeting for the first time ever on Friday night, with Notre Dame now 53-4-1 (.922) all-time against first-time visitors to campus, including victories in each of the first three rounds of this year's NCAA Championship (IUPUI, Central Michigan, Oregon State) ... the Fighting Irish have notched their sixth 20-win season in the past seven years, and eighth in the 11-year tenure of head coach Randy Waldrum ... the Notre Dame senior class registers its 90th career victory, improving to 90-10-4 (.885) from 2006-09 and temporarily joining the North Carolina group for the most wins by a current senior class ... Henderson's assist gives her 21 points (9G-2A) this postseason, the third-highest point total ever by a Fighting Irish player in one postseason, topped only by Kerri Hanks in 2006 (25 pts, 7G-11A) and Katie Thorlakson in 2004 (27 pts, 9G-9A) ... Henderson's 13 points (6G-1A) in the NCAA Championship also are third-most by a Notre Dame player in the tourney, exceeded only by Thorlakson's 14 in 2004 (4G-6A) and Hanks' 16 in 2006 (4G-8A); Hanks went to win the first of her two Hermann trophies in 2006, while Thorlakson was named the 2004 Soccer America National Player of the Year, but inexplicably was not chosen as one of three Hermann Trophy finalists that year, despite leading the nation in points (71) and assists (24) ... Henderson has a career-high 39 points (17G-5A) this season and 75 points (34G-7A) in only 49 games covering less than two full seasons at Notre Dame ... since taking over as the full-time starting goalkeeper for the Fighting Irish on Oct. 4 at Pittsburgh, Weiss is 12-0-1 with a 0.34 GAA, .902 save percentage and six solo shutouts (plus a share of four other clean sheets); ironically her only tie in that run came in that first game at Pitt, which ended a scoreless draw despite Notre Dame outshooting the defensive-minded Panthers, 25-7 (15-2 after halftime) ... since opening the season with a 3-3-0 record, Notre Dame is unbeaten in its last 18 games (17-0-1), including an active 12-game winning streak, and also has posted a 48-7 scoring margin during its current unbeaten string, with 12 shutouts (six 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 1648:56 of game action during its present unbeaten streak (1:18 at Cincinnati on Sept. 25; 15:20 at West Virginia on Oct. 2) ... the Fighting Irish move to 167-4-2 (.971) all-time at home against unranked teams (according to the NSCAA poll) ... Notre Dame rises to 401-9-16 (.960) when holding the opposition to 0-1 goals ... during the current 12-game home winning streak at their brand-new Alumni Stadium, the Fighting Irish have won by a combined score of 39-2.