Oct. 11, 2013
SALEM, Va. - Somewhere along the highways winding through the Piedmont and Blue Ridge mountains, it disappeared.
"It" was the lingering frustration from Notre Dame's 3-2 double-overtime loss at top-ranked Virginia on Thursday night. The No. 9/5 Fighting Irish had battled the Cavaliers tooth and nail through a persistent (and sometimes heavy) rainstorm, weathering every challenge and turning the tide on Virginia with several strong opportunities of their own. Then, in the second overtime, it all ended in the blink of an eye, as quickly as Morgan Brian's header spun towards the goal line, was swept clear by Notre Dame freshman forward Kaleigh Olmsted (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands) and then ruled to have broken the plane by the assistant referee, putting an end to the ACC showdown.
It's only human to feel disappointment and anger following a tough loss like Notre Dame experienced. Yet, in a conference as powerful as the ACC, the team that dwells too long on the negatives will, to paraphrase the words of the late Spanish philosopher George Santayana, "be doomed to repeat them."
"It's over and done with," Fighting Irish head coach Randy Waldrum said. "Whether you agree or disagree with how that game ended, it's history. What we can take from it is how hard we fought and scrapped, and how our players adjusted to the changes we made and were able to not only survive but thrive in an adverse situation."
One of the bright spots on Thursday was the play of senior tri-captain Elizabeth Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny), who had one goal all season prior to facing Virginia, but scored twice against the Cavaliers, including her second score that forced overtime with 17:11 left in regulation. Tucker had started the season (and Thursday's match) at left back, but after an early UVa goal, Waldrum elected to move Tucker back to the midfield, her normal position during her first three seasons. It came as no surprise that Tucker, a 4.0 student and returning first-team Academic All-America selection, would adapt effortlessly with the tactical changes.
"Tucker is one of several players on our team that has that kind of versatility to play in a number of different spots," Waldrum said. "We made the decision to change our personnel and formation after they got that early goal and Tucker was able to really stand out after we switched things up."
The Fighting Irish manager also singled out his goalkeeper, freshman Kaela Little (Tulsa, Okla./Bishop Kelley) for plaudits in the wake of Thursday's match. Little was playing one of the more difficult positions on the field in light of the wet weather, not to mention several puddles of standing water in the penalty area, including one around the six-yard box on each end of the pitch.
Nevertheless, Little was superb, coming up with a career-high nine saves, most notably on Danielle Colaprico's 25-yard shot four minutes into the first overtime, a drive that was ticketed for the far right-side netting, only to be denied by Little with a headlong dive to her left.
"Kaela made some very important stops for us and managed the game well under tough conditions," Waldrum said. "She wasn't fazed at all by the setting or the opponent, which is something we've seen from her several times before against teams like Carolina (five saves in 1-0 win) and UCLA (five saves in 1-0 loss). I was very pleased with the way she played."
As the sun disappeared over the Blue Ridge Mountains on Friday, and the Notre Dame women's soccer team arrived in Salem, Va. (about 40 miles northeast of Blacksburg), the smiles and laughter had returned to the Fighting Irish players and coaches, who enjoyed the camaraderie of a good meal and the chance to cheer on the Notre Dame men's soccer team to a last-second victory at Virginia Tech later in the evening.
"This is one of the advantages of having that extra day between games like we do in the ACC," Waldrum said. "It allows us to recharge, rest our bodies and our minds a little, and have some fun. It was great to be out there and support (Notre Dame men's soccer coach) Bobby (Clark) and the boys tonight, and tomorrow we'll turn our attention to our next challenge on Sunday against Virginia Tech."
Notre Dame is 3-2-1 against ranked opponents this season with a 13-6 aggregate scoring margin ... Thursday marked only the third time in program history the Fighting Irish played the No. 1 team in the nation (according to the NSCAA poll) multiple times in the same season, having also done so in 1995 and 1999 (the latter year was the only time it happened in the regular season prior to this year) ... Notre Dame became the first Virginia opponent this season to take the Cavaliers to overtime, and the first opponent to score against UVa at Klöckner Stadium since Aug. 30 (#7 Penn State in 5-1 Virginia win) ... the Fighting Irish matched the most goals scored against Virginia this season, equaling totals by VCU (4-2 UVa home win on Aug. 23) and Duke (Sept. 26 in 3-2 UVa win at Durham, N.C.) ... Thursday's match was the second overtime contest of the season (and second in three outings) for Notre Dame, which earned a 1-1 draw with No. 13/11 Wake Forest on Oct. 3 at Alumni Stadium ... the result was the first overtime loss for the Fighting Irish since Sept. 25, 2011 (a 3-2 decision at No. 14 Marquette) ... Notre Dame is 21-7-17 (.656) in overtime matches during Waldrum's 15-year tenure with the Fighting Irish ... Notre Dame has lost back-to-back matches for the first time since Nov. 4 & 13, 2011, when it fell to Louisville (2-1, BIG EAST Championship semifinals at Morgantown, W.Va.) and at Illinois (1-0, NCAA Championship first round) ... the Fighting Irish had a similar three-match winless streak last season (1-0 loss at home to North Carolina, 1-1 draw at Portland, 3-0 loss at Washington) and responded by going unbeaten in their next eight contests (7-0-1) ... Notre Dame is 40-9-3 (.798) when coming off a loss during the Waldrum era ... the Fighting Irish dropped consecutive conference matches for the first time since Sept. 27-29, 2002, when an injury-depleted Notre Dame side fell at BIG EAST foes Villanova (2-1) and Georgetown (4-3) ... Tucker posted her fifth career two-goal match against Virginia, and her first brace since Oct. 5, 2012, in a 5-1 win over Seton Hall at Alumni Stadium ... Tucker now has had at least one two-goal match in three of her four seasons at Notre Dame (2010, 2012, 2013) ... Tucker is the fourth Notre Dame player this season to record a two-goal match, and the first since Sept. 26, when sophomore forward Cari Roccaro (East Islip, N.Y./East Islip) netted a hat trick in a 5-0 win over No. 21/22 Maryland ... Little had a career-high nine saves at Virginia, topping her previous best of six stops in the season opener on Aug. 23 (a 4-1 Fighting Irish win over No. RV/25 Illinois at Alumni Stadium) ... Little's nine saves were the most for a Notre Dame goalkeeper in a match since Sept. 7, 2012, when current Fighting Irish sophomore Elyse Hight (Edmond, Okla./Bishop McGuinness) also turned aside nine shots in a 1-1 draw at No. 19/18 Portland ... junior midfielder Taylor Schneider (Southlake, Texas/Carroll Senior) tallied her second career point with the assist on Tucker's second goal, Schneider's first point since she recorded an assist on Oct. 19, 2012, at DePaul, helping set up a double-overtime goal by her classmate, forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita).
Notre Dame will remain in the state of Virginia to wrap up its three-match ACC road trip at noon (ET) Sunday, when it travels to Blacksburg, Va., to take on No. 10/12 Virginia Tech at Thompson Field. The match will be broadcast live on the ACC-Regional Sports Networks (coverage includes Fox Sports Indiana, check local listings for additional outlets), as well as ESPN3.
Virginia Tech (10-1-2, 5-1-1 ACC) has not played since Oct. 3, when the Hokies earned a 1-0 overtime win at home over Clemson. Virginia Tech is unbeaten in its last six matches, winning four by shutout and the lone blemish being a 1-1 draw at Duke on Sept. 29.
Sunday's match will mark just the second all-time meeting between the Fighting Irish and Hokies, with Notre Dame winning in their only previous series match, 5-0 on Sept. 1, 2002, at old Alumni Field.
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