Oct. 4, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Although it may sometimes be hard to tell based on their early-season success in 2013, No. 4/3 Notre Dame still remains a very young team, with 18 of the 28 players on its roster being either freshmen or sophomores. As such, the Fighting Irish occasionally have to learn a tough lesson about adjusting to adverse circumstances.
One of those teachable moments came Thursday night at Alumni Stadium, when Notre Dame looked very strong at both ends of the pitch in the first half of its Top 25 showdown with No. 13/11 Wake Forest. However, the Fighting Irish were unable to put a ball in the back of the net, then had to deal with the added frustration of waiting one hour and 28 minutes through a lightning delay at halftime.
When play resumed, Notre Dame had trouble regaining its momentum for the first 25 minutes of the second half before it returned to the front foot, eventually going ahead on a goal by junior forward Karin Simonian (Westbury, N.Y./W.T. Clarke) with 14:28 to play. That's when lesson No. 2 came up.
As the Fighting Irish celebrated taking the lead, they lost focus for a few moments, and against a powerful club like Wake Forest, that brief lapse was all it took to lose the advantage they had worked so hard to craft for three-quarters of the match. The Demon Deacons scored the tying goal 56 seconds after Simonian's tally, putting the contest back on level terms, which is where it would stay the rest of the night, despite a series of offensive flurries by Notre Dame, particularly in the second overtime.
Fighting Irish head coach Randy Waldrum identified several points of emphasis for his team following Thursday's 1-1 draw.
"I was extremely pleased with the way we played in the first half, and felt we were a bit unlucky not to be leading at the half," he said. "At the same time, Wake made some adjustments, in particular with their pressure, in the second half, and it took us too long to counter that adjustment. I thought the second half was more even, whereas I felt we were the better team in the first half. Wake Forest has a very good team and is very well-coached. (WFU striker) Katie Stengel is a handful, and Aubrey Bledsoe played very well for them in goal.
"(Freshman) Kaleigh Olmsted came on and gave us some very good minutes last night," Waldrum added. "She created our goal as well as several other opportunities for her teammates. It was good to see her perform the way we know she can, and I think she's getting her confidence back after her injury. I also felt (defenders) Katie Naughton and Sammy Scofield played very well together handling Stengel. This was a typical ACC battle, and the important thing is that we didn't lose all the points at home.
"I was disappointed on how we switched off after scoring our goal," Waldrum concluded. "It's just unacceptable to give up a goal 56 seconds later. We have to make sure to re-focus at these pivotal points in a game. The one goal should have won it for us."
Miami (6-4, 1-4 ACC) has been idle since Sept. 26, when the Hurricanes dropped a 4-0 decision at in-state rival Florida State. UM has lost four of its last five entering this weekend's contest, although all four losses came to ranked opponents, with the one win being a 2-1 verdict at home over North Carolina State on Sept. 19.
Sunday's match will mark the first time Notre Dame and Miami have met since Nov. 2, 2003, when the Fighting Irish edged the Hurricanes, 2-1 in overtime in the BIG EAST Conference Championship quarterfinals at old Alumni Field on Amanda Guertin's goal 2:54 into extra time. Notre Dame, which is 6-0 all-time against Miami, will be visiting Coral Gables for only the second time in program history, having previously earned a 4-0 victory on the Hurricanes' home pitch on Oct. 14, 2001.
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-- Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director