Dec. 5, 2008
CARY, N.C. - Freshman midfielder Courtney Barg (Plano, Texas/Plano West) scored in the 15th minute and the Notre Dame defense did the rest, holding fast against a stern Stanford onslaught as the top-ranked Irish booked their place in the NCAA national championship game with a 1-0 victory over the No. 5 Cardinal in the NCAA Women's College Cup semifinals on Friday afternoon before a crowd of 8,926 fans at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, N.C.
Notre Dame (26-0-0) will make its seventh trip to the NCAA title game, and for the fifth time, the Irish will take on North Carolina after the fourth-ranked Tarheels registered their own 1-0 win over No. 2 UCLA in Friday's nightcap. The national championship game is set for 2 p.m. (ET) Sunday at WakeMed Soccer Park, with ESPN2 and ESPN360.com to provide live broadcast coverage.
The sequence that perpetuated Barg's decisive strike started as sophomore midfielder Rose Augustin (Silver Lake, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) took a throw-in on the near sideline that found freshman forward Melissa Henderson (Garland, Texas/Berkner) just outside of the Stanford box, eight yards from the endline. Henderson took three touches to work her way around a Stanford defender before sliding the ball across the top of the box to Barg, who was making a run into the center of the box. The onrushing Barg gathered the pass and fired a low drive to Stanford goalkeeper Kira Maker's right side to put the Irish up 1-0 at 14:07.
Notre Dame goalkeeper Kelsey Lysander had to make four saves in the first half including one on Stanford's Kelley O'Hara at 21:43. O'Hara latched onto the end of a long ball sent from the Stanford midfield to break in on Lysander, but the junior goalkeeper was able to turn O'Hara's shot aside with a sliding kick save. Minutes later, at 26:46, Lysander made a point-blank save to preserve the lead as Stanford's sophomore forward Christen Press got a header on net from five yards out after O'Hara played in a cross from Lysander's right side.
The second half saw Stanford push for the equalizer, but the Notre Dame back line held fast, and Lysander made three more saves to give her a career-high seven on the afternoon. As time was winding down, sophomore forward Taylor Knaack (Arlington, Texas/Martin) did well to earn a corner kick in the far corner in front of the spirited Irish faithful, effectively ending the game.
Stanford (22-2-1) wound up outshooting Notre Dame, 20-12, including a 7-4 margin in shots on goal. The Cardinal also took six corner kicks to three for the Irish, but in the end, Notre Dame posted its eighth shutout in nine games and fourth in a row.
POST GAME NOTES: Notre Dame has totaled a school-record 26 wins, topping the old mark of 25 set in 2004 and 2006 ... the Irish are making their 10th appearance in the College Cup since 1994 and their second appearance in the national championship in the past three years ... overall, it is Notre Dame's seventh time playing for the title, having gone 2-4 in the previous six championship game appearances (national championships in 1995 and 2004) ... Notre Dame is 0-4 (2006, 1999, 1996, 1994) all-time versus UNC in the NCAA finals ... with the win over Stanford, the Irish have now beaten three Top 10 opponents this season (#3 North Carolina, #5 Stanford and #6 Florida State) ... it was just the second time this season that Stanford, which entered the game averaging 2.9 goals per contest, was held scoreless ... senior All-America forward Kerri Hanks had her school-record 19-game point-scoring streak snapped on Friday ... Barg scored her first goal since Oct. 10 at #17 Georgetown ... Notre Dame's 18 shutouts this season are tied for second-most in school history (1995, 1997) and one behind the school record set in 2006 ... the Irish have recorded four shutouts during this year's NCAA Tournament, tying the 1995 and 2004 Notre Dame clubs for the school record for most clean sheets in one NCAA Tournament ... Lysander's 10 solo shutouts are tied with LaKeysia Beene (1998) for fifth-most in school history ... Lysander has a combined 18 shutouts (eight shared with sophomore Nikki Weiss), tying her for the school record jointly held by Jen Renola (1995), Beene (1997) and Lauren Karas (2006) ... Lysander's seven saves are the most for a Irish goalkeeper in an NCAA Tournament game since Nov. 24, 2000, when Liz Wagner turned aside eight shots in a 2-1 overtime victory over Santa Clara at Alumni Field (three of Wagner's saves came in OT); the last Notre Dame netminder to post seven saves in a regulation game was Beene, who stopped seven shots on Dec. 3, 1999, in a 1-0 win over Santa Clara in the NCAA Women's College Cup semifinals at San Jose, Calif. ... Notre Dame is 42-1-1 in its last 44 games since opening last season with a 3-4-1 record ... the Irish are 4-1 all-time in NCAA Women's College Cup games in Cary, N.C., and have reached the NCAA title game all three times, winning twice in 2004, splitting a pair in 2006 and winning Friday.