Oct. 9, 2013
#9/5 NOTRE DAME "Fighting Irish" (9-2-1/5-1-1 ACC) vs. #1/1 VIRGINIA "Cavaliers" (12-0-0/6-0-0 ACC)
DATE: Oct. 10, 2013
TIME: 7 p.m. ET
LOCATION: Charlottesville, Va. (Klöckner Stadium - cap. 8,000)
SERIES: UVA leads 1-0-0 (UVA leads 1-0-0 at UVA)
LAST MEETING: UVA 2-0 (10/21/89 at UVA)
BROADCAST: ACC Digital Network/theacc.com (Tom Werme, p-b-p / Sari Rose, color)
LIVE STATS: virginiasports.com
TEXT ALERTS: Sign up at UND.com
TICKETS: Call (800) 542-8821, visit virginiasports.com, or stop by the Klöckner Stadium ticket windows on match night
For most of the past decade, Notre Dame and Virginia would meet during the preseason, often squaring off in an exhibition on some isolated pitch and sometimes as far away as northern Michigan, with the Fighting Irish occasionally venturing up to Traverse City and the Cavaliers' preseason training site. However, strange as it may sound, Notre Dame and Virginia have only played once in the regular season and one has to go back nearly a quarter century in the archives to find that dusty box score from a match played two years before the first-ever FIFA Women's World Cup in China.
That all changes Thursday night when the No. 9/5 Fighting Irish face one of the strongest challenges of their inaugural Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) season, heading to Charlottesville, Va., for a 7 p.m. (ET) match with the top-ranked and unbeaten Cavaliers at Klöckner Stadium. The contest will be broadcast live on the ACC Digital Network, with fans able to watch online free of charge through the conference's official web site (theacc.com).
For Notre Dame (9-2-1, 5-1-1 ACC), the challenge is multi-facted, as the Fighting Irish are not only playing their sixth ranked opponent of the season (and their fourth in the past seven matches), but their second No. 1 foe in less than a month. Back on Sept. 15, Notre Dame went to Chapel Hill, N.C., and edged top-ranked North Carolina, 1-0 on a 22nd-minute goal by freshman midfielder Morgan Andrews (Milford, N.H./Milford).
The Fighting Irish also are coming off their first-ever loss in ACC play, a 2-0 setback at Miami on Sunday afternoon. Notre Dame outshot the Hurricanes, 16-13, in the contest, but scoring chances didn't materialize for the visitors, while UM took full advantage of its opportunities to collect its first win in seven tries against the Fighting Irish.
"We've had a couple of days to look at the film and identify some of the areas where we struggled on Sunday," Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. "There's only a short time between games in the ACC, so adjustments have to come quickly, but I think our players have a good understanding of what went wrong and they're looking forward to getting back out there with a sharper effort on Thursday."
Only four days removed from that defeat, Notre Dame turns its attention to a Virginia side that is one of only four in the nation that is unbeaten and untied at this stage of the season. The Cavaliers feature a powerful offensive attack that has yielded 40 goals thus far (3.33 per match), relying on a possession-oriented style that in many ways is similar to the Fighting Irish. Setting the pace is junior playmaking midfielder Morgan Brian (8G-8A), who can score on her own or set the table for a pair of high-scoring sophomore forwards in Makenzy Doniak (10G-5A) and Brittany Ratcliffe (7G-1A).
Although opponents haven't created many chances against UVa thus far, the Virginia defense has been up to the task when called upon, recording seven shutouts. Rookie goalkeeper Morgan Stearns has seen the lion's share of time in the Cavalier net, earning four solo shutouts and two clean sheets while posting a 0.48 goals-against average.
"Virginia is such a skilled team and the results they've gotten this year show that," Waldrum said. "They possess the ball extremely well and have so many weapons at a number of different positions, especially in the attack with Morgan (Brian), (Makenzy) Doniak and (Brittany) Ratcliffe. They're also going to have a big home crowd behind them, so there will be a lot of energy in the stadium and that's something we need to be prepared for.
"Both teams play a similar style and many of the players and coaches know each other quite well," he added. "It should make for a very entertaining game, and this may be a situation where having played several ranked teams, including quite a few in the past month, will be helpful for us. We have a good feel for the level we need to play at in order to be successful, and now it's up to us to apply the lessons we've learned against those other ranked teams, as well as from the Miami loss, and put it on the field Thursday night."
THE NOTRE DAME-VIRGINIA SERIES
Notre Dame is 0-1 all-time against Virginia, and Thursday's match will mark the first time the Fighting Irish have traveled to Charlottesville since Oct. 21, 1989 (a 2-0 Virginia victory).
The Cavaliers are one of seven teams who own a winning record all-time against the Fighting Irish during in-season competition. All but one of those teams (North Carolina) have only faced Notre Dame once before.
OTHER NOTRE DAME-VIRGINIA SERIES TIDBITS
While this will be just the second official match between the schools, Notre Dame has met Virginia on the exhibition pitch eight times during the past nine seasons, collecting a 5-2-1 record against the Cavaliers in preseason matches (most recently a 2-0 decision in 2012 at the Notre Dame Practice Field) ... when the teams take the pitch Thursday night, it will be the first regular season meeting between the schools in 23 years, 11 months and 20 days, the longest gap between matches with an opponent in Notre Dame program history ... Virginia junior midfielder Morgan Brian was teammates with Notre Dame's Cari Roccaro and Mandy Laddish on the gold medal-winning United States squad that took part in the U-20 Women's World Cup in 2012. That team was led by Virginia head coach Steve Swanson ... Brian, UVa defenders Morgan Stith and Emily Sonnett, and former Cavalier forward Lauren Alwine are all part of the player pool for the U.S. U-23 National Team coached by Notre Dame manager Randy Waldrum. Brian (who also has seen time with the full U.S. Women's National Team) is second in goals scored on the U.S. U-23 team in 2013, contributing three goals in seven caps (six starts) with the national squad this cycle ... Swanson and Waldrum has worked closely through the years, both during their stints with U.S. Soccer and most recently this past March, when Swanson served as a distinguished clinician at Notre Dame's annual National Soccer Coaching Seminar.
LAST TIME OUT: MIAMI
Miami forward Ashley Flinn scored two second-half goals to give the Hurricanes a 2-0 victory over No. 4/3 Notre Dame on Sunday before a sellout crowd of 507 fans at Cobb Stadium in Coral Gables, Fla.
Flinn's first goal came in the 52nd minute and the clincher with less than seven minutes to play when Notre Dame was pushing forward in search of the equalizer.
The loss snapped a seven-match unbeaten string for the Fighting Irish (9-2-1, 5-1-1 ACC), who also fell for the first time in seven all-time meetings against Miami. What's more, Notre Dame had allowed just two goals in its first six conference matches, but had that total doubled on Sunday afternoon.
Freshman goalkeeper Kaela Little made four saves in the Fighting Irish goal, while UM netminder Emily Lillard registered six stops for the home side (7-4, 2-4 ACC).
Notre Dame finished with a 16-13 edge in total shots, while shots on goal were even at 6-6. The Fighting Irish also had a 4-3 advantage on corner kicks, and were whistled for 10 of the 13 fouls on the afternoon, including the day's lone yellow card.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: MIAMI
Notre Dame suffered its first-ever loss to Miami after entering the match with a 6-0 all-time record against the Hurricanes ... Flinn's first goal of the match in the 52nd minute marked the first time the Fighting Irish had trailed since Crystal Thomas chipped in an equalizer at 15:56 of the first half of Notre Dame's 3-1 win at North Carolina State on Sept. 12 ... even with the loss, Notre Dame still holds a cumulative 38-2-1 record all-time against other former BIG EAST Conference members now in the ACC (Boston College, Miami, Pittburgh, Syracuse and Virginia Tech) ... junior forward Karin Simonian led Notre Dame in shot attempts for the third consecutive match after recording three shots on Sunday against the Hurricanes. Simonian is tied with classmate Lauren Bohaboy for second on the Fighting Irish with 30 total shots this season, and has added a career-high three goals and eight points in 2013 ... Miami was the 10th opponent (fifth consecutive) that Notre Dame has outshot this season. The Hurricanes were the first team to defeat the Fighting Irish in 2013 despite having fewer shots (16-13 in favor of Notre Dame).
UP NEXT: VIRGINIA TECH
Notre Dame concludes its three-match ACC road trip at noon (ET) Sunday when it travels to Blacksburg, Va., to face No. 10/12 Virginia Tech at Thompson Field. The match will be air live on the ACC/Regional Sports Networks (including Fox Sports Indiana) and online at ESPN3.
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