#4/3 Irish Play To 1-1 Draw With #13/11 Wake Forest Notre Dame extends unbeaten streak to seven in marathon ACC slugfest delayed nearly 90 minutes by lightning.
Junior forward Karin Simonian gave #4/3 Notre Dame the lead with 14:28 left in regulation, but #13/11 Wake Forest scored less than a minute later and the teams played to a 1-1 draw on Thursday night at Alumni Stadium.
Box ScoreNOTRE DAME, Ind. -- On a night when two of the top teams in the nation, let alone the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), squared off, there was just one word that came to mind -- lightning.
After enduring a nearly 90-minute weather delay at halftime, No. 4/3 Notre Dame and No. 13/11 Wake Forest scored goals in lightning succession, connecting just 56 seconds apart in the final quarter-hour of regulation and the two teams wound up finishing in a 1-1 draw on a muggy and damp Thursday evening before 1,053 fans at Alumni Stadium.
With the tie, Notre Dame (9-1-1, 5-0-1 ACC) extends its unbeaten streak to seven matches, although the Fighting Irish did allow their first goal in more than 521 minutes of action. Notre Dame also moves to 3-1-1 against ranked opponents this season, with Wake Forest being the third Top 25 foe for the Fighting Irish in their last five matches.
Junior forward Karin Simonian (Westbury, N.Y./W.T. Clarke) gave Notre Dame the lead with 14:28 left in regulation, hammering home a cross from freshman forward Kaleigh Olmsted (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands). However, Wake Forest equalized less than a minute later when Kendall Fischlein found herself unmarked at the back right post and drove a cross from Katie Stengel high into the net from 10 yards out.
Freshman goalkeeper Kaela Little (Tulsa, Okla./Bishop Kelley) had another solid night in goal, ending up with three saves despite seeing her personal shutout streak stopped at 487:29. Her opposite number, Aubrey Bledsoe, had five saves in the Demon Deacons' goal.
Notre Dame finished with a 23-12 edge in total shots, as well as a 6-4 margin in shots on goal and a sizeable 8-2 spread on corner kicks. The Fighting Irish also were called for 11 of the 19 fouls in the match, while Wake Forest collected both yellow cards.
"This was a typical ACC game and the kind of battle we expected to get each time out when we joined the conference," Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. "It was a long night for everyone, and I think we lost some of our momentum after the delay, but we did seem to get it back after they tied it up late in regulation. The chances were there (to get the win), but we didn't have a strong night finishing, and their goalkeeper (Bledsoe), who I've had with me in the (U.S.) U-23 camps, is also extremely talented and really had a good game.
"We didn't defend as well as we're capable of, and that's disappointing to me," he added. "There were a couple of breakdowns in key areas and that's all it takes against a team like this. In the end, the result was probably justified for both sides, and we'll take this as a chance to get refocused and move ahead to Miami on Sunday."
Both Notre Dame and Wake Forest embrace a possession-based style, but for much of the first half, it was the Fighting Irish who controlled much of the flow. Notre Dame ended up with a 9-3 edge in total shots (the Demon Deacons' first shot didn't come until 29 minutes into the match) and all six corner kicks in the period, although each team had two shots on frame.
The Fighting Irish had a prime scoring chance in the 23rd minute, as freshman midfielder Morgan Andrews (Milford, N.H./Milford) sent a perfectly-weighted cross-field pass to sophomore forward Crystal Thomas (Elgin, Ill./Wheaton Academy) at the upper left corner of the box. She volleyed the service over to junior forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita) in the top middle of the area, and Bohaboy settled the pass neatly, but her drive twisted high and wide right.
Wake Forest (8-2-2, 3-2-2 ACC) had its first two shots in quick succession in the 30th minute, first by Sarah Teegarden and then by Stengel from near the top left of the box. However, Teegarden's shot didn't have pace, and while Stengel's did, it found the same fate at her teammate's attempt -- a skipping shot right into Little's waiting arms.
Notre Dame would have two more strong chances in the first half. In the 36th minute, senior defender/tri-captain Elizabeth Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) made an overlapping run on the left flank and got to the end line before pulling a cross back through the heart of the six-yard box. However, no Fighting Irish player managed to get on the receiving end and the ball skittered harmlessly away.
In the 42nd minute, two Notre Dame freshmen nearly found the scoring connection. Andrews did much of the heavy lifting with a weaving run through the Demon Deacon defense before curling a service from the left side. Olmsted timed her run well and directed a diving header on frame from six yards out, but it didn't have much power behind it and Bledsoe was able to make the stop.
Off the ensuing transition, Wake Forest sent hearts fluttering at Alumni Stadium, as Caroline Wootten lifted a long testing shot from the left channel than skimmed the top of the crossbar on its way out of play. It would be the last good chance by either side for (literally) quite a while.
As the teams headed to the locker room at halftime, conditions deteriorated quickly with thunderstorms and frequent lightning rolling through the South Bend area. The delay would last one hour and 28 minutes before play resumed, marking the third time this season (and sixth time in the past three years) Notre Dame has had a match held by due to weather.
From the outset, it was apparent the Demon Deacons were the fresher group in the early stages of the second half. It took the visitors the better part of 15 minutes to begin creating opportunities in the final third, but Wootten would be in the mix on her team's best two looks in that span. First, she drove a shot just over the bar from the top left of the box in the 64th minute Then, two minutes later, she sent a cross from the left flank for Stengel, who got a head on it, but nodded the ball wide of the right post.
Simonian returned to the pitch after that shot and her presence signaled another change in the he ebb and flow of the match. She would fire off four shots in the next nine minutes, while senior defender Rebecca Twining (Houston, Texas/Second Baptist School) challenged Bledsoe with a knuckling drive from the right channel that had the Wake Forest goalkeeper backpedaling to push the shot over the bar.
Notre Dame finally broke through in the 76th minute, beginning with sophomore forward Cari Roccaro (East Islip, N.Y./East Islip), who brought the ball into the attacking third, then looked right and found Olmsted on an overlapping run. The rookie shook free of her defender and whipped a low cross towards the penalty spot, where Simonian one-timed her powerful shot in the center of the goal before Bledsoe could get back into position (although she did get a hand on the ball as it went in).
With Fighting Irish fans still buzzing from the opening salvo, Wake Forest came right back and brought the match back on level terms in the blink of an eye. Stengel and Notre Dame sophomore defender/tri-captain Katie Naughton (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Elk Grove) waged an epic battle all night and were stride for stride in the left channel before Naughton slipped on the wet turf. Now with time and space, Stengel looked up and picked out an unmarked Fischlein at the back post, where the Demon Deacon rookie quickly converted over an onrushing Little, the first goal against Notre Dame in 521:11 of match time, dating back to Sept. 12 at North Carolina State.
Stengel nearly put her team in front only three minutes later, uncorking a wicked rising shot from the top left corner of the box that caromed hard off the crossbar before the Fighting Irish defense cleared it away.
The teams traded a pair of shots each in the final 10 minutes, with only one on goal (Andrews' try that Bledsoe easily managed in the 87th minute).
The first overtime was a gritty, but unresolved affair, with neither side registering a shot and Notre Dame gaining the lone corner kick of the 10-minute period.
In the second extra stanza, the Fighting Irish had the optimum chances, first in the 102nd minute, when Andrews found daylight 25 yards out in the center of the park, but drove her left-footed shot wide of the right post.
Wake Forest's best and only true chance of the second overtime came in the 105th minute when Stengel teed up a free kick in the deep left corner, only to have her service skip out the back side and a reloaded header from Riley Ridgik was too far out to cause an issue, sailing wide right.
Notre Dame had two more solid chances in the waning moments, beginning in the 108th minute as Twining made a well-timed run down the right flank then curled a cross towards the near (right) corner of the six-yard box. Olmsted came racing in and tried to poke the ball, but her sliding shot just missed the upper right corner of the net.
In the final minute, Olmsted created another scoring opportunity, hustling by her defender on the left side before serving a left-footed cross over the goalmouth to senior midfielder/tri-captain Mandy Laddish (Lee's Summit, Mo./Lee's Summit) on the far right side of the area. Laddish opened up a sliver of space before dropping a pass back to Andrews just inside the top of the box. However, Andrews' bid for a last-second winner skipped a foot wide of the left post, leaving the teams to share the spoils for the evening.
Notre Dame now heads out on the road for its longest trip of the season, a three-match junket beginning at noon (ET) Sunday when the Fighting Irish visit Miami (Fla.) at Cobb Stadium in Coral Gables, Fla. Fans are asked to note Sunday's start time, which is one hour earlier than some preseason schedules may have listed. The match will be live streamed and accessible through a monthly subscription pass ($9.95/month) at Miami's web site, hurricanesports.com.
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