Nov. 2, 2013
ACC Championship - Quarterfinal
#19/10 NOTRE DAME "Fighting Irish" (11-6-1/7-5-1 ACC) vs. #5/5 VIRGINIA TECH "Hokies" (14-3-2/9-3-1 ACC)
DATE: Nov. 3, 2013
It also represented a perfect opportunity to reset the team's momentum and charge forward into the postseason, which the No. 19/10 Fighting Irish will do at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday when they kick off their inaugural appearance in the ACC Championship with a quarterfinal match against No. 5 Virginia Tech at Thompson Field in Blacksburg, Va.
This will be the second time in three weeks fifth-seeded Notre Dame and the fourth-seeded Hokies will tangle on this pitch in shadow of the Blue Ridge Mountains in southwestern Virginia. Back on Oct. 13, the teams battled to a virtual stalemate through much of the afternoon before Virginia Tech reserve Ellie Zoepfl scored with 3:45 remaining to give the hosts a 1-0 victory.
It was one in a series of near-misses for Notre Dame in the final month of the regular season, with the Fighting Irish losing three double-overtime contests and seeing a fourth end in a draw, along with the loss late in regulation at Virginia Tech. In fact, the Fighting Irish are coming off one of these frustrating last-gasp losses on Thursday night, a 2-1 double-overtime defeat at third-ranked Florida State after the Seminoles scored with 2:35 left in regulation and against with less than six minutes to go in the second extra period.
However, when it comes to the postseason, the Fighting Irish have traditionally found their stride. In 19 conference tournament appearances since 1993 (covering its membership in the Midwestern Collegiate Conference/Horizon League and the BIG EAST Conference), Notre Dame has posted a stellar 42-5-1 (.885) record in league tournament matches, along with a 95-9 aggregate scoring margin in those contests. The Fighting Irish also have won 13 conference tournament crowns in their history, although no current player has a championship ring with the program's most recent league tournament title coming in 2009 under the BIG EAST banner.
As this year's Notre Dame squad arrived in Blacksburg late Friday to beginning training for Sunday's ACC quarterfinal, it was readily apparent that the Fighting Irish are eager to embrace the blank canvas that comes with the start of postseason play.
"It's a fresh start and the records are wiped away," Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. "We definitely learned a lot from our first season in the ACC and it's only made us a tougher and tighter group. The conference tournament is a great opportunity for us to grow and build some solid momentum going into the NCAAs, and in particular, for us to go to a place in Virginia Tech where we really felt we left some points behind with that loss."
THE NOTRE DAME-VIRGINIA TECH SERIES
THE LAST TIME NOTRE DAME AND VIRGINIA TECH MET
The contest was a physical, gritty affair, with scoring chances at a premium. Notre Dame finished with a 14-9 edge in total shots, while Virginia Tech had a 4-3 advantage in shots on goal and a 3-1 margin on corner kicks. Fouls also were nearly even (14-11 against the Hokies), while each team received one yellow card.
Freshman goalkeeper Kaela Little went the distance in the Notre Dame goal, making three saves. At the opposite end, Virginia Tech netminder Dayle Colpitts also turned aside three shots for her seventh shutout of the season.
ACC CHAMPIONSHIP TIDBITS
LAST TIME OUT: FLORIDA STATE
Sophomore forward Anna Maria Gilbertson put Notre Dame on the board with a brilliant unassisted goal in the 28th minute, but Florida State rallied behind a pair of goals by Marta Bakowska-Mathews, the first with 2:35 left in regulation to force the added time, and then the match-winner with 5:36 remaining in the second overtime period.
It was another difficult ending for the Fighting Irish, who wound up outshooting the Seminoles, 17-16, while the teams each recorded seven shots on goal (not including one Notre Dame shot that hit the crossbar). FSU had the edge on corner kicks (9-5) and fouls (11-3).
Freshman goalkeeper Kaela Little took the hard-luck loss in the Notre Dame net, making five saves. Seminole goalkeeper Kelsey Wys turned aside six shots for the hosts.
BEYOND THE BOX SCORE: FLORIDA STATE
UP NEXT: ACC SEMIFINALS
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-- Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director