Oct. 23, 2013
#20/12 NOTRE DAME "Fighting Irish" (9-5-1/5-4-1 ACC) vs. BOSTON COLLEGE "Eagles" (8-7-1/4-4-1 ACC)
DATE: Oct. 24, 2013
TIME: 7 p.m. ET
LOCATION: Notre Dame, Ind. (Alumni Stadium - cap. 3,007)
SERIES: ND leads 10-1 (ND leads 5-0 at ND)
LAST MEETING: ND 2-0 (11/5/04 at UCONN)
BROADCAST: WatchND (live)
LIVE STATS: UND.com
TEXT ALERTS: Sign up at UND.com
TICKETS: Call (574) 631-7356, visit UND.com/tickets, or stop by the Alumni Stadium tickets windows on match day ($5 adults/$3 youths-seniors/free for all Notre Dame/Saint Mary's/Holy Cross students) PROMOTIONS: Notre Dame will wear special alternate home white tops, with block "Notre Dame" on the front and blue and gold trim, that are available for bid on-line through the official Notre Dame athletics auction web site, UND.com/auctions. The proceeds from the auction will benefit The SEGway Project, a non-profit organization started by former Fighting Irish player Lindsay Brown ('13) to use soccer as a means of empowering young girls in the developing world. Bids will be accepted on-line through Thursday night's match with Boston College.
As the regular season enters its final full week, the Notre Dame women’s soccer team has had little time to reflect on the events of its last three weeks of play. Given what is still at stake, there is little that can be gained from the team figuratively living in the past.
The No. 20/12 Fighting Irish (9-5-1, 5-4-1) look to close the 2013 home schedule at Alumni Stadium on a high note against Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) opponent Boston College (8-7-1, 4-4-1) Thursday at 7 p.m. (ET) at Alumni Stadium. The match will be streamed live and free of charge on the official Notre Dame athletics multimedia platform, WatchND.
Notre Dame enters Thursday’s meeting with Boston College attempting to snap a five-match winless streak that dates back to a 1-1 tie against then No. 13/11 Wake Forest on Oct. 3. The Fighting Irish plan to harness all of their pent-up energy and turn it into a positive to wrap up the final homestand of the season.
“Anytime you lose games you are not happy about it,” Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. “I think we have given a couple away this year that we deserved better than, especially the game last week against Duke. I did not think we played particularly well early in the season against UCLA (Sept. 1), but we have been pretty good at home the rest of the year, and you need to protect that home-field advantage any chance you get. We would certainly feel better about our home season with a win against BC.”
The Fighting Irish raced out of the gates to a 9-1 start to open the regular season, scoring three or more goals per contest in seven of their first 10 matches. Notre Dame was a perfect 5-0 in ACC play prior to the draw with Wake Forest when it entered its recent rough patch, which has included three straight defeats in the final five minutes of regulation or double overtime. Difficult stretches of play for all ACC members at one point or another during 2013 have served to illustrate just how challenging Notre Dame’s new conference home really is.
“In each of our last three games, it was just an individual lack of focus that mismarked a player or did not get matched up the right way,” Waldrum said. “That’s what the ACC does to you. We did not have that all the time in the BIG EAST week in and week out. That’s been the biggest difference.
“We have been competitive in every game, we could clearly be undefeated in the ACC, but we also could have lost a few more games that we won early,” he added. “That’s just the grind of the league, and it will bode well for our kids moving forward.”
Being battle-tested nearing the postseason is a key for any team that plans to have success at both the conference and national tournament level, something that Notre Dame, a two-time NCAA champion during Waldrum’s 15-year tenure, knows all too well. As such, the Fighting Irish will not be taking the final week of the regular season lightly, with one team currently receiving votes (Clemson, Oct. 27) and the unbeaten third-ranked squad in the country (Florida State, Oct. 31) still remaining as road destinations to cap off the campaign following Thursday’s meeting with Boston College.
“We need to finish out our last three games with as many wins as we can because we are not home free yet with the conference tournament or even with the NCAA Championship,” Waldrum said. “We need to take care of that business first. If we do that and get in, (the challenging regular season schedule) is only going to help us once we begin play in the NCAAs.”
Much as the case was last season when 12 freshmen suited up for Notre Dame during its run to the 2012 NCAA Championship quarterfinal round, members of the eight-player freshman class of 2013 have taken on main roles in the Fighting Irish lineup.
Midfielder Morgan Andrews (Milford, N.H./Milford) leads all Notre Dame newcomers with four goals and 10 points in her first 15 career starts. The top-ranked recruit nationally in the class of 2013, Andrews earned ACC Player of the Week honors on Sept. 17, and has been a two-time Top Drawer Soccer National Team of the Week selection (Sept. 10 and Sept. 17). While Andrews has been the player tabbed with national accolades, she is one of a number of talented freshmen who have contributed immediately for Notre Dame.
Forward Kaleigh Olmsted (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands) has chipped in one goal and three assists (five points) as an offensive catalyst on the Fighting Irish front line, fighting her way back into the Notre Dame rotation after being sidelined three matches early in the season due to a sprained ankle. Midfielders Rilka Noel (West Bloomfield, Mich./Marian), Cindy Pineda (Bolingbrook, Ill./Plainfield East) and Emily Geyer (Powell, Ohio/Bishop Watterson) have all opened their Fighting Irish goal accounts during their freshman season, with Noel being the most recent to join the list after her 44th-minute volley into the net last Sunday against Duke. Goalkeeper Kaela Little (Tulsa, Okla./Bishop Kelley) has started all 15 Notre Dame matches this season, posting a 0.86 goals against average, .797 save percentage and 4.2 shutouts in net.
Waldrum said he is pleased with the progress his young contingent of players has made, especially in the face of the greatest adversity that many in the group have ever faced in their soccer careers.
“Kaela has been fantastic in goal, barring the mistake late against Duke,” the Notre Dame manager said. “That’s going to happen to the best of them, and I texted her after the game that she has won a number of games for us and we cannot get down about that.
“Kaleigh has probably been our best attacking player the last three weeks since she has come back from her injury,” Waldrum said. “I wish we would have had her all year because I think those three games or so that she missed would have gotten her even more experience at this point, but she is playing well.
“Rilka and Cindy both have given us some good minutes,” he added. “We do have to get them a little tougher, a little more intense out there because they are used to a different pace with their club teams, but they have given us good minutes when they have been on. I’ve been extremely pleased with the entire class.”
Notre Dame will have its hands full Thursday night with a prolific Boston College offense that, despite the team’s current eighth-place standing in the ACC, ranks third in the conference with 35 goals and fifth in the league with 95 points. Sophomore forward McKenzie Meehan leads the ACC with 15 goals and 31 points, while junior forward Stephanie McCaffrey has added 12 goals and seven assists to equal Meehan for the conference point lead. The Eagles are coming off a 3-3 tie at Miami (Fla.) on Sunday that saw McCaffrey score two goals and Boston College outshoot the host Hurricanes 17-13.
“They are very good, and are coming in much like Duke, just below .500 in the conference,” Waldrum said. “Boston College is going to be similar in that they are not that kind of a team, it is just the ACC is so tough. BC is dynamic, they are athletic all over the field, and their player up top Meehan has been scoring all kinds of goals for them. We have watched them on tape and offensively they are going to be a handful for us.
“Our defenders Katie Naughton (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Elk Grove) and Sammy Scofield (Geneva, Ill./Geneva), along with Rebecca Twining (Houston, Texas/Second Baptist School) and Elizabeth Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny), have to be really good defensively for us, along with Kaela in goal, in order for us to come away with a win,” Waldrum added. “We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
THE NOTRE DAME-BOSTON COLLEGE SERIES
Notre Dame is 10-1 all-time against Boston College, and will host the Eagles for the sixth time at home in the first-ever meeting between the teams at Alumni Stadium.
The Fighting Irish have won all five previous home meetings with Boston College, outscoring the Eagles by an 11-2 aggregate margin. The only Notre Dame loss in the history of the series was a 2-1 defeat during the semifinal round of the 2003 BIG EAST Championship in Piscataway, N.J. (Nov. 7, 2003).
THE LAST TIME NOTRE DAME AND BOSTON COLLEGE MET
Jen Buczkowski and Katie Thorlakson continued their recent goal-scoring surges while the Irish defense logged another strong performance, as the second-ranked Notre Dame women’s soccer team posted a 2-0 win over No. 19 Boston College on Nov. 5, 2004 in BIG EAST semifinal action at Morrone Stadium in Storrs, Conn.
Notre Dame improved to 21-1-0 all-time in BIG EAST Tournament play and advanced to host Connecticut to play for the program’s eighth tournament title in 11 seasons. The Irish posted a 15-8 edge in total shots and 9-2 in shots on goal against Boston College, while attempting six of the game’s seven corner kicks.
With the win, Notre Dame extended its unbeaten streak to 20 games for the fourth time in the program’s history. Jenny Maurer’s shot in the 12th minute was the first shot on goal allowed by the Irish in 124 minutes of game action, spanning parts of three games.
OTHER NOTRE DAME-BOSTON COLLEGE TIDBITS
Notre Dame has never lost to Boston College at home (5-0). Thursday’s match will be the first meeting between the teams at Alumni Stadium … the Fighting Irish hold an unbeaten home record against 11 current ACC members, including Boston College … the only league opponents Notre Dame has never faced at home are Virginia and Clemson (the Fighting Irish and Tigers will play for the very first time on Oct. 27 at Clemson) … Notre Dame and Boston College met on four separate occasions during the semifinal round of the BIG EAST Championship (2000, 2001, 2003 and 2004), with the Fighting Irish posting a 3-1 record in those contests … a total of six Notre Dame players have hailed from the state of Massachusetts during the team’s 26-year history … current freshman midfielder Morgan Andrews resides in Milford, N.H., roughly 30 minutes from the New Hampshire-Massachusetts state border … freshman defender Cat Beer is from Sudbury, Mass., but has yet to enter a match for the Fighting Irish.
LAST TIME OUT: DUKE
Notre Dame held the upper hand in all statistical categories and had the balance of play in their attacking third for the majority of Sunday afternoon’s match with ACC foe Duke, but the Blue Devils got an unassisted goal from Laura Weinberg with 1:43 left in the second overtime to shock Notre Dame, 2-1 before a Senior Day crowd of 1,791 fans at Alumni Stadium.
Weinberg’s goal was the second unassisted tally of the day for Duke, which got a 20th-minute goal from Toni Payne, only to see it cancelled out when Fighting Irish freshman midfielder Rilka Noel netted her first career goal with 1:24 left in the first half, volleying in a cross from junior forward Karin Simonian.
Notre Dame finished with a 20-14 edge in total shots, doubling up Duke in that category after halftime (14-7 through the second half and both overtimes). The Fighting Irish also ended up with a 9-7 advantage in shots on goal (6-4 after halftime) and a staggering 12-1 margin on corner kicks, their largest positive spread from the flag since Oct. 7, 2012, when they had a 14-3 edge on corners in a 2-2 draw with Rutgers at Alumni Stadium.
Freshman goalkeeper Kaela Little made five saves in the Notre Dame net, while Duke’s Meghan Thomas kept her team in contention throughout the afternoon with eight saves.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: DUKE
Notre Dame lost for the third time in four matches when outshooting its opponent. Prior to the Miami (Fla.) match on Oct. 6, the Fighting Irish had been a combined 8-0-1 when holding the edge in shots … Duke claimed just its second win all-time at Notre Dame and its first since Sept. 25, 1992, a 2-1 decision over the Fighting Irish at old Alumni Field … of Notre Dame’s nine shots on goal during the match, a total of six came from Fighting Irish freshmen … forward Kaleigh Olmsted led all Notre Dame players with a match-high three SOG, while midfielder Rilka Noel set a career-best with two shots on frame, including her first collegiate goal … midfielder Morgan Andrews also drilled a strike on net during the final minutes of regulation … after surrendering seven shots to Duke in the first 39:04 of Sunday’s match, the Fighting Irish limited Duke to just seven additional shot attempts over the final 69:13 of the contest.
UP NEXT: CLEMSON
Notre Dame will begin its final regular season road trip this weekend when the Fighting Irish face Clemson Sunday at 1 p.m. (ET). The match will mark the first-ever meeting between the two teams, and will be streamed live on 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.
-- Tony Jones, Media Relations Assistant