Nov. 17, 2012
NCAA Championship -- Third Round
#RV/23 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (15-5-2 / 8-1-1 BIG EAST) vs. #8/10 Florida Gators (19-4-1 / 11-2-0 SEC)
DATE: November 18, 2012
No. RV/23 Irish Set For NCAA Third-Round Match At #8/10 Florida
The Fighting Irish (15-5-2) moved on to round three with a 2-1 victory over No. 10/12 (and third-seeded) Wake Forest on Friday night at Pressly Stadium. Goals from freshman forwards Cari Roccaro (59th minute) and Crystal Thomas (match-winner in the 71st minute) powered Notre Dame to the third round of the NCAA Championship for the eighth time in nine years.
A Quick Look At The Fighting Irish
The Gators are led offensively by senior All-American Erika Tymrak, who enters the match with a team-high nine goals and 12 assists (30 points). Tymrak pushed a through-ball ahead to junior Taylor Travis to set up the match-winner in Friday's 1-0 win over Central Florida in the tournament's second round.
A familiar face on the Gator front line is junior forward Adriana Leon, who scored the winning tally in Notre Dame's 1-0 shutout win over Stanford in the 2010 NCAA Championship match. Leon has scored five goals during her debut season in Gainesville.
Florida has been at its most dangerous in the second half all season, outscoring opponents by an aggregate 34-8 margin in period two. The Gators hold a 54-20 total goal advantage over opponents in 2012.
Goalkeeper Taylor Burke has earned the decision in each match this season, allowing just 19 goals in 2,114 minutes of action. Burke has been involved in all 10 Florida clean sheets, and has logged 58 saves.
Florida is currently in the midst of a seven-match winning streak, and has not dropped a contest since Oct. 19 at Alabama (1-0 loss). The Gators have outscored the opposition 18-1 during the stretch.
The Notre Dame-Florida Series
The Last Time Notre Dame And Florida Met
Notre Dame checked back into its nearby hotel during a long weather delay before returning to Pressly Stadium a couple hours later. Weber -- who started the game at left back -- re-entered the match in the 60th minute, playing more in a flank midfielder role (as she did in the prior two seasons at Wisconsin). Less than five minutes after checking back in, Weber found the back of the net for the key 2-0 cushion. Kerri Hanks picked up the assist, after flaring a pass from the center of the field. Weber ran onto the ball near the right edge of the box before juking past a defender and surprising UF goalkeeper Katie Fraine with a sharply-struck rightfooted shot that ripped into the far-left corner of the net (64:28),
Florida (1-1-0) created plenty of havoc and offensive chances while displaying a good combination of athleticism and physical play. The Gators became only the second team in five seasons (spanning 105 matches) to outshoot Notre Dame (11-4) but the Fighting Irish owned a 4-1 edge in shots on goal, with the only save credited to Lauren Karas coming on a harmless ball struck from 35 yards out. The hosts did not have a corner kick in the first 70 minutes of game time but went on to finish with a 6-2 edge in corners -- with strong play all-around from Karas throughout the game helping Notre Dame post the shutout.
NCAA Championship Quick Kicks
Notre Dame vs. the Southeastern Conference
Sunday's match will be the first time the Fighting Irish have ever met an SEC foe in the NCAA Championship (at any site).
Four Irish Players Honored At BIG EAST Awards Banquet
Freshman forward/midfielder/defender Cari Roccaro took home three awards, most notably the BIG EAST Rookie of the Year trophy, becoming the first Fighting Irish recipient of the award since Melissa Henderson in 2008. Roccaro also was a first-team all-BIG EAST and BIG EAST All-Rookie Team selection, according to a vote of the conference's 15 head coaches.
Freshman defender Katie Naughton and freshman forward Crystal Thomas were double honorees, with both making the BIG EAST All-Rookie Team in addition to earning all-conference accolades (Thomas was a second-team choice, while Naughton was a third-team selection). Together with Roccaro, they gave Notre Dame three BIG EAST All-Rookie Team picks in the same year for the first time since 2000, when Amanda Guertin, Randi Scheller and Amy Warner represented the Fighting Irish on the BIG EAST's rookie squad.
Rounding out this year's Notre Dame honorees was junior midfielder/tri-captain Mandy Laddish, who garnered second-team all-conference status for the second consecutive season. As a group, the Fighting Irish had four all-conference selections, their best showing since 2010, when five Notre Dame players took home all-BIG EAST plaques.
Hight (9-4-1, 0.65 GAA, 4.1 ShO, .845 save percentage) earned the starting nod for the first eight matches of the year, posting a 4-3-1 record while recording one shutout (sharing a second with Voigt), and tallying a win and a tie in four contests against ranked opponents (2-1 vs. No. 24/16 Santa Clara on Aug. 31; 1-1 at No. 19/18 Portland on Sept. 7).
Voigt (6-1-1, 0.85 GAA, 3.2 ShO, .708 save percentage) took over at halftime of the team's 2-1 win over Louisville on Sept. 14 in its BIG EAST opener and would hold on to the starting spot for the next eight matches, logging a 6-1-1 record with three solo shutouts (and a shared clean sheet with freshman Naomi Willett) and a scoreless streak of 355:40 that ended early in a 2-2 draw with Rutgers on Oct. 7.
Hight regained the starting goalkeeper role at Villanova on Oct. 14 and posted three consecutive solo shutouts since returning between the pipes, defeating Villanova, DePaul and Syracuse by identical 1-0 scores (the DePaul victory coming in double overtime on Oct. 19), before dropping a 1-0 decision to No. 15/10 Marquette in the BIG EAST Championship semifinals on Nov. 2 in East Hartford, Conn. She then rebounded with a 3-1 victory over Milwaukee in her NCAA Championship debut on Nov. 9 at Alumni Stadium, allowing just a first-half penalty kick goal by the Panthers.
What's more, the goal Hight allowed to Marquette's Ally Miller was the first yielded by the rookie netminder in 473:38, dating back to a goal to Washington's Jaclyn Softli on Sept. 9. Hight was unblemished in all four regular-season matches against BIG EAST opponents (0.00 GAA, 2.0 ShO, 10 saves), but she did not qualify for the BIG EAST goals-against average or save percentage titles as she did not play in at least half (five) of her team's conference matches ths year, thus denying Hight the chance to challenge former Notre Dame netminder Nikki Weiss for the BIG EAST's single-season GAA record in league play (0.15 in 2009).
Nevertheless, Hight currently ranks third in the BIG EAST and 24th nationally in save percentage (.845), while also ranking second in the conference and 20th in the nation in GAA (0.65).
Match #22 Recap: Wake Forest (NCAA Championship Second Round)
Thomas perfectly timed her run to gather in a chip over the top by junior midfielder/tri-captain Mandy Laddish, just beating Wake Forest goalkeeper Aubrey Bledsoe to the ball at the top right of the box. Thomas then rounded the sprawling netminder and deftly tucked her 12-yard shot inside the far left post for her 10th goal of the season.
Freshman forward Cari Roccaro scored the tying goal for Notre Dame (15-5-2) in the 59th minute, capping a set piece that featured three Fighting Irish rookies. Freshman defender Brittany Von Rueden served a dangerous corner kick from the right flag, with another freshman, midfielder Glory Williams settling the ball at the penalty spot with a quick pass to Roccaro on the right edge of the six-yard box. Roccaro then alertly poked a shot through traffic into the Demon Deacons' net for her first NCAA Championship goal (and sixth of the season).
Freshman goalkeeper Elyse Hight earned the victory in the Notre Dame net, registering two saves and expertly commanding the penalty area from a series of late crosses by Wake Forest.
The Demon Deacons (14-6-3) finished with a 9-6 edge in total shots, including a 3-2 margin in shots on goal. Wake Forest also earned a 7-4 advantage on corner kicks, while the Fighting Irish were whistled for 10 of the 16 fouls in the match (as well as the lone yellow card).
The balance of the first half was played in the middle third, with both sides have their fair share of possession. Notre Dame's best foray of the opening 45 minutes came when junior midfielder/tri-captain Elizabeth Tucker found sophomore midfielder Karin Simonian on an overlapping run down the right edge of the area. Simonian then curled a cross that was deflected back to her for a second service, this time towards the heart of the penalty box. Tucker had continued her run and found space for her own sharp header, but it went wide to the right (37:10).
The Demon Deacons finally broke the ice in the 43rd minute, starting with Alisha Woodson, who made a timely run down the left flank before sending a pass back towards the top of the attacking third. Katie Stengel chipped the Fighting Irish back line, and Hight came hard off her line to try and grab the ball near the top of the penalty area. However, the ball checked up just enough for Kristen Meier to run on to it and chip it over the onrushing Notre Dame goalkeeper and into the vacated net (42:33).
After head coach Randy Waldrum pushed Roccaro up to the front line and brought Williams into the holding midfield spot at halftime, the Fighting Irish offense took on a renewed spirit in the second half. Roccaro got her first look on frame in the 54th minute, trying to catch Bledsoe off her line with a long 30-yard shot from the right channel, but the ball sailed wide left.
A little more than five minutes later at 58:50, Roccaro drew Notre Dame level with her close-range finish off the Von Rueden corner kick. That score not only energized the youthful Fighting Irish, but also sent a buzz through the solid contingent of Notre Dame faithful in the crowd at Pressly Stadium.
Waldrum inserted Thomas back in the lineup in the 67th minute and it was readily apparent the rookie striker was chomping at the bit to make her presence known, immediately harassing the Wake Forest defense into a corner kick. Thus, it came as no surprise four minutes later (at 70:25) when Thomas found herself in the right place at the right time, racing on to Laddish's chip and showing the composure of a wily veteran to become the first Notre Dame rookie to score double-figure goals in a season since 2008 (and send the Fighting Irish on to the next round).
Beyond The Box Score: Wake Forest
Giving Cancer A Swift Kick
The Notre Dame players wore special gold jerseys with a pink ribbon insignia for the match. These limited edition jerseys, which were designed for the Fighting Irish by Notre Dame's official athletics apparel provider, adidas, recently were up for public bidding through the official Fighting Irish athletics auctions web site (UND.com/auctions), with the on-line bidding ending Oct. 31.
While the final donation totals are still to be calculated, it is estimated that the Fighting Irish will have raised more than $5,000 for local and national breast cancer charities.
Meet The (Not So) #BabyIrish
Not only did the hashtag pay tribute to the median age of his team, but Waldrum also used the term to refer to the (sometimes painful) growing process that the Notre Dame squad is going through this season.
Although he knew his team had to crawl before it can walk, Waldrum insisted that he didn't plan to keep the hashtag for long. Thus, with Notre Dame's late-season surge (unbeaten in 10 of its last 11 matches) and return to the Top 25 in the national polls (currently 23rd in the Soccer America poll), the Fighting Irish coach has been more than willing to lift the social media moniker, or at least trade it in for a more adolescent version (he continues to remain open to suggestions through his Twitter account, @NDCoachWaldrum).
The ongoing goal of the #BabyIrish hashtag is see his charges continue developing on a daily, weekly and monthly basis to the point where they're just the #Irish by the end of the 2012 campaign.
World (Cup) Champions
Both Notre Dame players were on the pitch when the final whistle sounded, signifying the Americans' third title since this tournament began as the FIFA Under-19 World Championship in 2002. Four-time Fighting Irish All-America forward and two-time Hermann Trophy recipient Kerri Hanks ('08) was one of the youngest members (at age 17) of that victorious 2002 U.S. side (that defeated host Canada in the final), while Lauren Fowlkes ('11) helped the United States win the 2008 U-20 Women's World Cup in Chile, downing North Korea in the title match.
Similar to Hanks in 2002, Roccaro was the second-youngest player on this year's American roster, but hardly showed her age, emerging as a mainstay for the United States at center back. She appeared in five of the Americans' six matches at this year's U-20 World Cup, starting four times and helping the U.S. to a 4-1-1 record that included three shutouts, most notably over Nigeria (2-0) and Germany (1-0) in the semifinals and championship match. The Stars & Stripes also had to battle through a 2-1 extra-time victory over North Korea in the quarterfinals.
Meanwhile, Laddish proved to be a vital second-half substitute for the United States, coming off the bench to lend support in three matches, including the semifinal win over Nigeria and the title match victory against Germany. She becomes the second Fighting Irish player ever to earn both a U-20 Women's World Cup title and an NCAA national championship, having joined Fowlkes as a member of the title-winning 2010 Notre Dame squad.
In addition to Laddish, Roccaro, Hanks and Fowlkes, the Fighting Irish have been represented at two other U-20 Women's World Cups. In 2004, Hanks deferred her enrollment at Notre Dame to help the United States to a third-place finish in Thailand, scoring the opening goal in the third-place match. Two years later, a pair of future Notre Dame All-Americans, midfielder/forward Brittany Bock ('09) and defender Carrie Dew ('09), donned the Stars & Stripes for the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women's World Championship (as it was then called) in Russia, where the United States finished fourth after scoreless ties in both the semifinal against China and the third-place game against Brazil (both went against the U.S. on penalty kicks by identical 6-5 scores).
The 2-0 Guarantee
In fact, just two of the past 229 Fighting Irish opponents to face a 2-0 deficit have forced a draw, something achieved by four opponents in Notre Dame history: Duke on Oct. 17, 1993, in Houston (ND won 3-2), Connecticut on Nov. 10, 1996, in the BIG EAST final at old Alumni Field (ND led 2-0, later tied 2-2 and 3-3, ND won 4-3), Duke on Nov. 30, 2007, in the NCAA quarterfinals at old Alumni Field (ND won 3-2), and most recently, Villanova on Oct. 12, 2008 in Villanova, Pa. (ND won 3-2 in OT).
Three ... Is The Magic Number
Golden Domers Golden In OT
Last year, the Fighting Irish tied two school records by going to extra time on five occasions (also in 2001 and 2007) and registering three draws (also in 1991 and 2001).
Sophomore forward Lauren Bohaboy became the first current Notre Dame player to score an overtime goal, netting the match-winner with 4:52 left in the second extra session at DePaul. It was the first overtime victory for the Fighting Irish since Nov. 6, 2009, when Jessica Schuveiller headed home the "golden goal" off a cross from Rose Augustin at 98:42 to beat St. John's in the BIG EAST semifinals at Storrs, Conn.
Bohaboy's goal at DePaul also was the latest Notre Dame match-winning score (105:08) since Sept. 21, 2001, when Amy Warner's goal at 114:11 defeated Villanova, 2-1 at old Alumni Field (matches featured 15-minute overtime periods during that era).
Any Given Sunday
Still, the Fighting Irish own a 46-7-6 (.831) record in their last 59 contests when closing out the weekend (usually on the back end of a two-match set), dating back to September 2007 (when Notre Dame lost three consecutive Sunday matches to nationally-ranked Stanford, Oklahoma State and Penn State, all by 2-1 scores and the first two in overtime).
Our Fearless Leader
A two-time National Coach of the Year (2009 by Soccer America, 2010 by NSCAA), Waldrum has led Notre Dame to eight NCAA College Cups, five NCAA finals and two national championships (2004 and 2010). He also is second in NCAA Division I history with eight College Cup appearances and five title-match berths in his storied career.
Oh Captain, My Captain
In an interesting twist illustrating the youth on the current Fighting Irish roster, this year's captains also represent three of just four active Notre Dame players who earned a 2010 NCAA national championship ring (the other is junior forward/midfielder Rebecca Twining).
Coming Soon: Irish in the ACC
The change in conference affiliation (for which a timetable has not yet been established) will be the first for Notre Dame since 1995, when the Fighting Irish moved from the Midwestern Collegiate Conference (now the Horizon League) to the BIG EAST Conference.
In its 18 seasons in the BIG EAST, the Notre Dame women's soccer program has been the conference's flagship, winning 13 regular-season titles and 11 postseason crowns, along with three NCAA national championships. The Fighting Irish also currently hold a 146-11-9 (.907) regular-season conference record since joining the BIG EAST in 1995.
Next Up: NCAA Quarterfinals
The Fighting Irish are 3-1 all-time against Florida State, with all four prior meetings coming in the NCAA Championship. Their most recent series match occurred in the 2009 quarterfinals in Tallahassee, with No. 5 Notre Dame earning a 2-0 victory over the sixth-ranked Seminoles.
The Fighting Irish have played Texas A&M just once before, with sixth-ranked Notre Dame edging the No. 8 Aggies, 1-0 on Sept. 7, 1999, in Klein, Texas.