Sept. 25, 2013
#5/3 NOTRE DAME "Fighting Irish" (7-1-0/3-0-0 ACC) vs. #21/22 MARYLAND "Terrapins" (6-3-0/2-1-0 ACC)
DATE: Sept. 26, 2013
Notre Dame (7-1, 3-0) has pulled into the dock of the ACC, beginning its first season in the conference following a successful 18-year run in the BIG EAST. Meanwhile, Maryland (6-3, 2-1) has pulled up its anchor and all but thrown off the lines as the ACC charter member prepares to set sail next fall for the Big Ten Conference after six decades in the prestigious league.
However, before the Terrapins head into the sunset, they join the Fighting Irish for a 2013 season that has made the ACC the nation's toughest women's soccer conference. The two programs are two of a staggering seven conference teams (half the ACC membership in women's soccer) that are ranked in both major national polls this week, with an eighth (Duke) receiving votes in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) balloting.
This year also provides Notre Dame and Maryland with an opportunity to briefly renew their series, which has been dormant since Sept. 4, 2005, when the Fighting Irish posted a 6-0 win over the 25th-ranked Terrapins in the title match of the Inn at Saint Mary's Classic at old Alumni Field. That match is best known as one of the early examples of the thunderous one-two punch provided by Kerri Hanks (two goals) and Katie Thorlakson (one goal/two assists) during the 2005 season, a campaign that would end with the pair becoming just the second duo in Division I history to each scored 70 points in a season (both ended up with 71 points).
Three years earlier (Sept. 15, 2002), the schools combined for one of the more remarkable matches in Notre Dame women's soccer history, as the Fighting Irish scored five times in the final 25:30 to erase a two-goal deficit and post a 5-2 win over the No. 25 Terrapins in the finals of the Maryland FILA Classic in College Park, Md. Future Canadian National Team standout (and 2012 Olympic bronze medalist) Melissa Tancredi came off the bench to score twice and Amanda Guertin added a goal and two assists in the late flurry, with Tancredi going on to earn the tournament's Offensive Most Valuable Player award.
The names have changed, but the expectation of another highly entertaining match has not lessened. Notre Dame is one of three ACC teams that are unbeaten through the first two weeks of the conference season, and has two wins in three contests against ranked opponents thus far (including a 1-0 victory at No. 1 North Carolina on Sept. 15). On the other hand, Maryland is coming off a stirring 1-0 win of its own, taking down No. 6/3 Wake Forest last Sunday in College Park, getting a fourth-minute goal from lightning-quick senior forward Hayley Brock and making it stand up with stout defense the rest of the afternoon.
"First of all, they are very well-coached," Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. "(Maryland head coach) Jonathan (Morgan) does a great job with his team, and they are very organized and disciplined in the way they play. They are similar to us in their system and their style of play, so it should be a great matchup.
"A couple of key players that concern me are Hayley Brock and Ashley Spivey," Waldrum added. "These are two very good players that we had on our (recruiting) radar a few years ago. They both are creative, with Spivey depending on that aspect of her game, whereas Brock is fast and athletic, and can punish you with her speed. Defensively, they play out of the back like we do, and are good at setting play from those positions. Maryland has had some great results already in the ACC, and they are fully capable of beating any team in the country, so it's important that we come with our `A' game."
Notre Dame will have the benefit of a week's rest, having last played on Sept. 19, when it claimed a thrilling 1-0 win over defensive-minded Syracuse on a goal by junior defender Sammy Scofield with three seconds to play. The break also has allowed Waldrum and his staff to evaluate the team's status through the first month of the season, a milepost that the Fighting Irish manager pointed to prior to the campaign as a time when he thought the lineup and positional rotations would begin to sort themselves out.
"Our lineup is starting to shape out with more consistency," Waldrum said. "However, since the competition for playing time has been so close, we are still making some minor changes here and there. The competition of the ACC also has made us re-evaluate a few of our positions. We have a great battle at right back between (senior Rebecca) Twining, (sophomore Brittany) Von Rueden, and (junior Taylor) Schneider with all three bringing something different to the team.
"We are still trying to find ways to get (sophomore Glory) Williams, (freshman Cindy) Pineda and (freshman Rilka) Noel more time on the field and in the midfield, in particular," he added. "However, that midfield of (sophomore Cari) Roccaro, (senior tri-captain Mandy) Laddish and (freshman Morgan) Andrews is very solid and one of the best combinations in the country. The most unsettled positions for us are up front in our forward line. We have a group of six players between (freshman Kaleigh) Olmsted, (junior Lauren) Bohaboy, (sophomore Crystal) Thomas, (junior Karin) Simonian, (sophomore Anna Maria) Gilbertson and (sophomore Mary) Schwappach, and we are trying to figure out the best combination to play together. These players all bring something different to the table, so it's been more of a rotation that we have been using that has seemed to work well so far."
THE NOTRE DAME-MARYLAND SERIES
THE LAST TIME NOTRE DAME AND MARYLAND MET
Maryland was slowed by an early red card issued to junior defender Ashly Kennedy. Notre Dame went on to rack up a 31-1 edge in total shots (19-0 in shots on goal) while attempting nine of the day's 10 corner kicks.
Hanks also joined Monica Gerardo as the only Notre Dame players at the time ever to score in the first four matches of a season. Gerardo did so 10 years earlier at the start of the 1995 NCAA championship season, ultimately scoring in each of her first five matches during that freshman season.
OTHER NOTRE DAME-MARYLAND SERIES TIDBITS
LAST TIME OUT: SYRACUSE
Freshman midfielder Morgan Andrews started the winning sequence with a free kick 30 yards out on the left side, driving her service towards the underside of the crossbar. Syracuse goalkeeper Brittany Anghel retreated and was able to punch the ball up into the air near the penalty spot, where junior defender Brittany Von Rueden headed the ball back towards the six-yard box. Scofield was perfectly positioned and quickly went up to snap her header into the net past another Syracuse defender, sending the Fighting Irish faithful into delirium.
Scofield's goal is easily the latest match-winning goal in Notre Dame women's soccer history, either in regulation or overtime. For any match, Michelle McCarthy had the previous latest match-winning goal on Sept. 11, 1994, scoring with 25 seconds remaining in the second overtime for a 4-3 victory at 10th-ranked William & Mary (overtime periods were 15 minutes in that era, so her goal came at 119:35 elapsed time). In a regulation match, Ragen Coyne had the latest decisive goal on Nov. 1, 1992, scoring with 36 seconds left in a 2-1 win at Wright State.
Freshman goalkeeper Kaela Little made two saves to record her second consecutive shutout and third in the past four matches. Anghel had four saves for Syracuse, while also benefitting from two other saves by her defensive backline.
Notre Dame finished with a decided edge in all of the statistical categories, including total shots (19-4), shots on goal (7-2) and corner kicks (8-2).
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: SYRACUSE
SPECIAL BIRTHDAY SURPRISE FOR WALDRUM
The Irving, Texas, native has always been a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan and considers former Cowboys Hall of Fame quarterback Roger Staubach to be one of his sporting idols. But imagine Waldrum's shock when he took the cell phone of Notre Dame associate athletics director (and women's soccer administrator) Mike Harrity Wednesday morning and found Staubach on the other end of the line.
After a minute or so of disbelief, wondering if one of his friends was pulling a birthday prank, Waldrum came to the realization it was his one of his all-time favorites on the phone. The two spoke for about five minutes and Staubach was incredibly gracious, offering not only birthday wishes, but words of support for Waldrum and the Notre Dame program.
Harrity managed to pull off the remarkable surprise, thanks in part to the administrator's friendship with another NFL Hall of Famer, former Chicago Bears running back Gale Sayers, whom he met while working in the athletics department at the pair's alma mater, the University of Kansas several years ago. Sayers, who now makes his home in the Michiana area, was only too happy to reach out to his fellow Hall of Famer Staubach and help Harrity set up the surprise phone call, giving Waldrum a birthday he will never forget.
UP NEXT: PITTSBURGH
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