Pitch Points: #4/3 Irish Learning To Expect The Unexpected

Sophomore defender/tri-captain Katie Naughton turned in another strong performance on the Fighting Irish back line in Notre Dame's 1-1 draw with #13/11 Wake Forest on Thursday night at Alumni Stadium.

Sophomore defender/tri-captain Katie Naughton turned in another strong performance on the Fighting Irish back line in Notre Dame's 1-1 draw with #13/11 Wake Forest on Thursday night at Alumni Stadium.

Oct. 4, 2013

NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- Although it may sometimes be hard to tell based on their early-season success in 2013, No. 4/3 Notre Dame still remains a very young team, with 18 of the 28 players on its roster being either freshmen or sophomores. As such, the Fighting Irish occasionally have to learn a tough lesson about adjusting to adverse circumstances.

One of those teachable moments came Thursday night at Alumni Stadium, when Notre Dame looked very strong at both ends of the pitch in its Top 25 showdown with No. 13/11 Wake Forest. However, the Fighting Irish were unable to put a ball in the back of the net, then faced the added frustration of having to wait one hour and 28 minutes through a lightning delay. When play resumed, Notre Dame had trouble regaining its momentum for the first 25 minutes of the second half before it returned to the front foot, eventually going in front on a goal by junior forward Karin Simonian (Westbury, N.Y./W.T. Clarke) with 14:28 to play. That's when lesson No. 2 came up.

As the Fighting Irish celebrated taking the lead, they lost focus for a few moments, and against a powerful club like Wake Forest, that brief lapse was all it took to lose the advantage they had worked so hard to craft for three-quarters of the match. The Demon Deacons scored the tying goal 56 seconds after Simonian's tally, putting the contest back on level terms, which is where it would stay the rest of the night, despite a series of offensive flurries by Notre Dame, particularly in the second overtime.

Fighting Irish head coach Randy Waldrum identified several points of emphasis for his team following Thursday's 1-1 draw.

"I was extremely pleased with the way we played in the first half, and felt we were a bit unlucky not to be leading at the half," he said. "At the same time, Wake made some adjustments, in particular with their pressure, in the second half, and it took us too long to counter that adjustment. I thought the second half was more even, whereas I felt we were the better team in the first half. Wake Forest has a very good team and is very well-coached. (WFU striker) Katie Stengel is a handful, and Aubrey Bledsoe played very well for them in goal.

 

 

"(Freshman) Kaleigh Olmsted came on and gave us some very good minutes last night," Waldrum added. "She created our goal as well as several other opportunities for her teammates. It was good to see her perform the way we know she can, and I think she's getting her confidence back after her injury. I also felt (defenders) Katie Naughton and Sammy Scofield played very well together handling Stengel. This was a typical ACC battle, and the important thing is that we didn't lose all the points at home.

"I was disappointed on how we switched off after scoring our goal," Waldrum concluded. "It's just unacceptable to give up a goal 56 seconds later. We have to make sure to re-focus at these pivotal points in a game. The one goal should have won it for us."

PITCH POINTS
Notre Dame is 3-1-1 against ranked opponents this season, having outscored those five Top 25 foes by an 11-3 aggregate margin ... the Fighting Irish now are 3-0-1 all-time against Wake Forest ... Thursday's match marked the first time Notre Dame went to overtime since Oct. 19, 2012, when it earned a 1-0 double-overtime win at DePaul ... it also was the first time the Fighting Irish had to play extra time at home since Oct. 7, 2012, when Notre Dame and Rutgers ended in a 2-2 draw (those are the only two home overtime matches the Fighting Irish have played since moving to Alumni Stadium early in the 2009 season) ... Notre Dame is 21-6-17 (.670) in overtime match during Waldrum's 15-year tenure with the Fighting Irish ... Notre Dame's streak of 521:11 without allowing a goal (which ended Thursday night) was its longest since Sept. 29-Oct. 20, 2006, when the Fighting Irish didn't allow a goal for 591:48 between wins over West Virginia and Villanova ... it should also be noted that Wake Forest's goal on Thursday was the first yielded by Notre Dame within the run of play in 627:21, dating back to Sept. 1 against No. 4/2 UCLA, when Darien Jenkins scored on a goal-mouth scramble at 79:07 (N.C. State scored directly off a set piece (Shelli Spamer center-line free kick at 5:17) on Sept. 12, the last goal of any kind allowed by the Fighting Irish prior to Thursday night) ... boosted by its strong defensive play this year, Notre Dame has trailed for just 21:32 in its 11 matches this season (the final 10:53 of a 1-0 loss on Sept. 1 vs. No. 4/2 UCLA at Alumni Stadium, and a 10:39 stretch early in the first half of a 3-1 win at North Carolina State on Sept. 12) ... junior forward Karin Simonian had one goal and four assists (six points) in her first two seasons combined, but already has registered three goals and two assists (eight points) through 11 matches this season ... with her assist on Simonian's goal Thursday night, freshman forward Kaleigh Olmsted picked up her first point since the opening weekend of the season, when she had a goal and an assist in her college debut vs. No. RV/25 Illinois (Aug. 23), followed by an assist two days later against Northwestern, both at Alumni Stadium.

UP NEXT
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.

Miami (6-4, 1-4 ACC) has been idle since Sept. 26, when the Hurricanes dropped a 4-0 decision at in-state rival Florida State. UM has lost four of its last five entering this weekend's contest, although all four losses came to ranked opponents, with the one win being a 2-1 verdict at home over North Carolina State on Sept. 19.

Sunday's match will mark the first time Notre Dame and Miami have met since Nov. 2, 2003, when the Fighting Irish edged the Hurricanes, 2-1 in overtime in the BIG EAST Conference Championship quarterfinals at old Alumni Field on Amanda Guertin's goal 2:54 into extra time. Notre Dame, which is 6-0 all-time against Miami, will be visiting Coral Gables for only the second time in program history, having previously earned a 4-0 victory on the Hurricanes' home pitch on Oct. 14, 2001.

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 through the "Fan Center" pulldown menu on the main page at UND.com.

-- Chris Masters, Associate Athletic Media Relations Director