Oct. 20, 2013
NOTRE DAME, Ind. --
"Cruel" is a word often used in soccer parlance to describe a sport that can be unforgiving, with results not providing a full picture of how the match was played. However, what No. 13/9 Notre Dame has gone through in the past three matches may constitute "cruel and unusual punishment."
The Fighting Irish 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 Atlantic Coast Conference (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.
It marked the fourth consecutive loss for the Fighting Irish (the last three defeats coming with less than four minutes left in regulation or in overtime), tying a school record first set in 1989. In addition, it stretched Notre Dame's winless streak to five matches, with three of those five contests going to overtime (also a 1-1 home draw against No. 9/10 Wake Forest on Oct. 3 and a 3-2 double-overtime loss at top-ranked Virginia on Oct. 10). What's more, Sunday's setback was the first home overtime loss for the Fighting Irish since Sept. 16, 2007, when Notre Dame dropped a 2-1 decision to 16th-ranked Oklahoma State at old Alumni Field.
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 (West Bloomfield, Mich./Marian) netted her first career goal with 1:24 left in the first half, volleying in a cross from junior forward Karin Simonian (Westbury, N.Y./W.T. Clarke).
Notre Dame (9-5-1, 5-4-1 ACC) 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 (Tulsa, Okla./Bishop Kelley) made five saves in the Notre Dame net, while Duke's Meghan Thomas kept her team in contention throughout the afternoon with eight saves, using her 6-foot-2 frame to register an assortment of fingertip and reflex stops.
"A finish like that ... well, it guts you," Fighting Irish head coach Randy Waldrum said. "From top to bottom, I can't fault our effort one bit today. Soccer is just a cruel game sometimes and the ball doesn't necessarily bounce your way. But we win as a team and we lose as a team, that's what our program has always been about.
"This is just another example of how tough the ACC season is," he added. "Inches here and there make all the difference and all you have to do is look at our last three games to see that. But we'll learn from this, we'll improve from this and we'll be mentally stronger because of it. Boston College is coming in on Thursday and that next game is going to be the only thing on our minds between now and then."
Notre Dame wasted little time in getting on the front foot, earning a pair of corner kicks in the opening five minutes. The Fighting Irish forwards also put the Duke back line under duress in the early going, forcing an errant backpass that led to a third try from the flag in the 10th minute, but all three corners went by the wayside.
The Blue Devils (6-6-4, 3-4-3 ACC) looked to Payne to turn the tide, with the rookie midfielder challenging one of Notre Dame's four seniors, tri-captain/defender Elizabeth Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) in an intriguing duel on the right side in the 13th minute. Payne tried to beat Tucker several times with a series of possession moves, but the Fighting Irish veteran was more than equal to the task, standing Payne up at the top of the area and forcing a shot well off-target.
Six minutes later, the battle was joined again, with Payne trying her luck once more. She and Tucker tangled up in the right channel, 30 yards from goal, with Payne pushing past Tucker via a friendly physical nudge that sent the latter sprawling. Payne then found room on the right side of the box, cut back and curled a 12-yard left-footed shot inside the far left post past a diving Little (19:19).
The goal seemed to shake up what had been a confident Notre Dame attack, and Duke nearly took advantage to double its lead. In the 25th minute, Weinberg found a seam at the top of the area and cracked a rising shot that clanged hard off the crossbar before Little and the Fighting Irish defense arrived to clear away the rebound.
After that scare, Notre Dame resumed its offensive push, thanks in part to its first-half substitutes in Noel and Simonian. The pair would finally link up to draw the hosts level late in the period, starting with Simonian, who made a nifty crossover move to get free down the left side of the box before snapping a service back through the six-yard area. Noel was crashing hard at the back post and simply had to one-time the pass into the back of the net from four yards out to open her college scoring account (43:36).
Duke made a brief challenge early in the second half, as Weinberg looked to have room behind the Fighting Irish defense, but sophomore defender/tri-captain Katie Naughton (Elk Grove Village, Ill./Elk Grove) did a stellar job to backtrack and cut down the Blue Devil striker's angle, leading to a 12-yard shot that was wide left.
Moments later, Duke earned its lone corner kick of the day, with Natasha Anasi going up on the right side to put a header on target, but Little was locked in and made the grab.
From there, it was almost exclusively Notre Dame with the scoring chances, beginning in the 60th minute, when junior defender Taylor Schneider (Southlake, Texas/Carroll Senior) beat the Blue Devils' offside trap after a corner kick and found room for a 10-yard strike on the right side of the box that Thomas did well to tip wide of the right post.
Two minutes later, the Fighting Irish were knocking on the door again, as freshman midfielder Morgan Andrews (Milford, N.H./Milford) drove a 30-yard service from the right flank that cleared the Duke back line and found freshman forward Kaleigh Olmsted (The Woodlands, Texas/The Woodlands) on an angled run from the left. Olmsted met the cross with a sharp volley, but Thomas dove to her left to knock the shot down and was able to gather herself in time to smother Olmsted's attempt on the rebound near the top right of the six-yard box.
That was the first in several long-range salvos that Andrews fired on the Duke defense down the stretch. In the 67th minute, she again found Olmsted on the dead run behind the Blue Devil retaining line. However, Thomas came sprinting off her line and met the Fighting Irish rookie just outside the top of the box, with the two colliding roughly before the ball squirted free in the box behind Thomas and was cleared away.
Andrews almost found the winning solution herself with less than three minutes to go in regulation, stepping through a pair of attempted tackles outside the top middle of the area. She then drove a knuckling shot that handcuffed Thomas, the ball slipping through her gloves and bounding towards the goal line before the Duke netminder recovered to pluck it from certain doom for the visitors.
The first overtime proved to be entertaining on both ends, with Notre Dame putting two of its three shots on frame. Yet, it was the one that didn't officially count that was the most nailbiting, as junior forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita) chopped the ball loose at the top of the box, got into open space near the penalty spot and hit a shot towards the far (left) post, only to sail inches wide -- a foray that went all for naught when the overtime buzzer sounded just before boot met leather.
Early in the second overtime, the Fighting Irish had another chance, switching the ball into the left channel for Olmsted. The rookie cut back across the grain and smacked a low shot through traffic, with the ball deflecting slightly off a retreating Duke defender. Bohaboy was also on the run into space in the box, but the deflected ball was just inches behind her, allowing Thomas to make the collection.
Sunday's match ended in a flash, as Notre Dame was maintaining possession in its defensive third with less than two minutes to go in the second overtime. The ball was played back to Little, who was surveying the best avenue to begin the counterattack. However, Weinberg came racing in from the center of the attacking third and cut off Little's attempted clearance to take possession. She then rounded the Fighting Irish keeper before slotting home the winning score into the vacated net from 10 yards out on the left side of the area (108:17).
Notre Dame closes out its 2013 regular-season home schedule at 7 p.m. (ET) Thursday, playing host to Boston College at Alumni Stadium. The match will be streamed live through the official Fighting Irish athletics multimedia platform, WatchND.
Tickets may be purchased through the University's Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office by calling (574) 631-7356 or visiting the ticket windows at Gate 9 of Purcell Pavilion weekdays from 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET). Tickets also can be ordered on-line 24 hours a day with a major credit card through the official Notre Dame athletics ticketing web site, UND.com/tickets. Groups wishing to attend can receive a discounted ticket rate -- contact Rita Baxter in the Murnane Family Athletics Ticket Office to learn more.
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Duke 2, #13/9 Notre Dame 1 (2OT)
Oct. 20, 2013
Notre Dame, Ind. (Alumni Stadium)
Duke 1 0 0 1 -- 2
Notre Dame 1 0 0 0 -- 1
DUKE 1. Toni Payne 3 (-) 19:19. ND 1. Rilka Noel 1 (Karin Simonian) 43:36. DUKE 2. Laura Weinberg 4 (-) 108:17.
Total Shots: DUKE 14 (7-4-1-2), ND 20 (6-9-3-2)
Shots on Goal: DUKE 7 (3-1-1-2), ND 9 (3-4-2-0)
Saves: DUKE 8 (Meghan Thomas 8 in 108:17), ND 5 (Kaela Little 5 in 108:17)
Corner Kicks: DUKE 1 (0-1-0-0), ND 12 (5-5-2-0)
Fouls: DUKE 8 (1-6-1-0), ND 8 (4-2-0-2)
Offsides: DUKE 0, ND 4
Records: DUKE 6-6-4 (3-4-3 ACC), ND 9-5-1 (5-4-1 ACC)
Next for ND: vs. Boston College, 7 p.m. (ET) Thursday at Alumni Stadium (live stream at WatchND).
-- Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director