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    Pitch Points: Irish Riding The Learning Curve

    FIGHTING IRISH Freshman midfielder Morgan Andrews provided one of the bright spots for Notre Dame last weekend, scoring her first career goal in Friday's 4-0 win over Oakland.
    FIGHTING IRISH
    Freshman midfielder Morgan Andrews provided one of the bright spots for Notre Dame last weekend, scoring her first career goal in Friday's 4-0 win over Oakland.
    FIGHTING IRISH

    Sep 2, 2013

    NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- When Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum put together his team's 2013 schedule, he knew full well the Fighting Irish would need to be tested and his words "exposed" before they entered their first season in the rugged Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

    Consider that mission accomplished.

    While No. 7/4 Notre Dame didn't come out victorious on Sunday, falling 1-0 to No. 4/2 UCLA in the title match of the Notre Dame adidas Invitational at Alumni Stadium, it was clear Waldrum and his staff would have a great deal of hard evidence to show the Fighting Irish about what worked and what needs improvement during the coming week.

    "We played a tough team and were exposed in some areas which gives us an opportunity to clean those areas up before ACC play," assistant coach Corey Holton said. "We are young and that was the first big test of the season. UCLA put a lot of pressure on us and we were unable to maintain our composure for 90 minutes. We showed our youth a bit, but we also showed the need to make adjustments during the course of the game and sort out what the opponent is coming at us with."

    As with any loss, it's easy to dwell on the negatives, and for most outside observers who didn't see Sunday's match, the simple solution would be to focus on the statistical discrepancies. Sure, UCLA finished with a 20-1 edge in total shots (including a 6-0 margin in shots on goal), but the vast majority of those attempts by the Bruins came from well outside the penalty area. It's a credit to the Notre Dame defense, particularly the Fighting Irish center backs -- junior Sammy Scofield (Geneva, Ill./Geneva), who made the adidas Invitational All-Tournament Team, and sophomore tri-captain Katie Naughton (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Elk Grove) -- and their freshman goalkeeper Kaela Little (Tulsa, Okla./Bishop Kelley) who kept the high-powered UCLA offense largely at bay, and shut out Oakland, 4-0 two nights earlier in the tournament opener.

     

     

    While Notre Dame struggled to find its offensive flow against the Bruins, the Fighting Irish looked sharp in the final third against Oakland, with a balanced effort that included a goal and an assist from junior forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita) and two assists from sophomore forward Crystal Thomas (Elgin, Ill./Wheaton Academy), both of whom joined Scofield and sophomore midfielder Cari Roccaro (East Islip, N.Y./East Islip) on the all-tournament team.

    In addition, Notre Dame's highly-touted freshman midfielder, Morgan Andrews (Milford, N.H./Milford) scored her first career goal in the win over Oakland and played a vital role in nearly giving the Fighting Irish the lead in the 74th minute against UCLA, as she beat Bruins' goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland to a cross into the area with a header that gave Thomas a point-blank shot on goal, only to see the score wiped out by a late offside flag.

    "We had a few people really step up on the weekend included Sammy (Scofield) who was a force in the back and was able to squash many attacks with her air game and strong 1-v-1 defending," Holton said. "We also had four different people score our four goals (against Oakland), including Morgan's first career goal and (junior forward) Karin (Simonian)'s first of the season. On top of that, Kaela got her first collegiate shutout, so that was all encouraging.

    "All in all, this weekend, especially the UCLA game, was a good learning experience for the younger players," Holton added. "It was also a reminder to the veterans that we still have some work to do to be competitive with the strongest teams in the country."

    PITCH POINTS
    The late goal allowed against UCLA marked the first time all season Notre Dame has trailed, and that lasted only the final 10:53 against the Bruins ... Sunday's loss snapped Notre Dame's 11-match home winning streak against Pac-12 Conference schools, a run that dated back to Oct. 4, 1992, when Stanford downed the Fighting Irish, 3-0 in the title match of the inaugural Golden Dome Classic (now known as the Notre Dame adidas Invitational) ... Notre Dame is now 19-8-1 (.696) all-time against the current Pac-12 alignment, including an 11-2 record at home ... the Fighting Irish are 25-14-2 (.634) all-time against California schools, including a 15-3 (.833) record at home (11-3 in the Notre Dame adidas Invitational), with Sunday's loss to UCLA ending a five-match home winning streak for the Fighting Irish against teams from the Golden State ... Notre Dame falls to 33-7-2 (.810) all-time in its home tournament, losing in the title match by a 1-0 score to a ranked opponent (on a goal in the final 10 minutes) for the second consecutive season -- on Sept. 2, 2012, the Fighting Irish fell to No. 19 North Carolina on Maria Lubrano's goal with 5:44 to play ... that UNC match also represented the last time Notre Dame was held without a shot on goal ... the Fighting Irish tied a program record with one total shot, a mark first set on Sept. 8, 1990, at Duke ... dating back to last season, Notre Dame's last three losses have all been by identical 1-0 scores to top-15 opponents (No. 15 Marquette on Nov. 2, 2012, in the BIG EAST Championship semifinals at East Hartford, Conn.; at No. 7 Florida State on Nov. 23, 2012, in the NCAA Championship quarterfinals; vs. No. 4 UCLA on Sunday at home).

    UP NEXT
    Notre Dame caps off its season-opening five-match homestand (its longest since 2006) at 7 p.m. (ET) Sunday, Sept. 8, when it plays host to Detroit at Alumni Stadium. The rare Sunday night kickoff is a result of the Fighting Irish men taking on No. 4 North Carolina at noon (ET) at Alumni Stadium in Notre Dame's first regular season Atlantic Coast Conference contest in any sport.

    Detroit (1-2-1) claimed its first win of the season Sunday afternoon with a 1-0 overtime victory at San Francisco. The Titans, who will visit Canisius Friday night before arriving in South Bend next weekend, were picked to win the Horizon League this season, taking over as the odds-on favorite in the conference from perennial Horizon League champion Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Detroit has 18 letterwinners, including six starters, back from last year's team that earned a share of the Horizon League regular season title.

    Season and single-match tickets for Notre Dame women's soccer may be purchased through the University's Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office by calling (574) 631-7356 or visiting the ticket windows at Gate 9 of Purcell Pavilion weekdays from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET). Tickets also can be ordered on-line 24 hours a day with a major credit card through the official Notre Dame athletics ticketing web site, UND.com/tickets. Groups wishing to attend Fighting Irish soccer matches also can receive a discounted ticket rate -- contact Rita Baxter in the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office to learn more.

    For more information on the Fighting Irish women's soccer program, follow Notre Dame on Twitter (@NDsoccernews or @NDsoccer), like the Fighting Irish on Facebook (facebook.com/NDWomenSoccer) or sign up for the Irish ALERT text-messaging system through the "Fan Center" pulldown menu on the main page at UND.com.

    -- Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director

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