October 28, 2012
CARI COMES THROUGH
Late goal gives Notre Dame 1-0 win
NOTRE DAME, Ind. — Freshman forward Cari Roccaro scored with in the 78th minute to lift Notre Dame to a 1-0 victory over defensive-minded Syracuse in the quarterfinals of the Big East Conference Championship on a cold and blustery Sunday afternoon at Alumni Stadium.
Roccaro gathered in a long lead pass from junior midfielder Mandy Laddish, beating Syracuse goalkeeper Brittany Anghel to the ball at the top of the box, dribbling around an Orange defender and then scoring from 15 yards out into the empty net, sending the Fighting Irish to the Big East semifinals for the 16th time in their 18 seasons as a conference member.
With the victory, Notre Dame advances to the Big East Championship semifinals at 4 p.m. Friday in Storrs, Conn., where the Fighting Irish will face No. 16/12 Marquette (the American Division champion) Both semifinals (South Florida meets No. 14/18 Georgetown in Friday’s second contest), as well as the Nov. 4 title match (noon ET) will be televised live to a national cable audience by CBS Sports Network.
Notre Dame (13-4-2) now is unbeaten in 11 of its last 12 matches. The Fighting Irish finished with a 17-7 shot advantage, including a 7-2 edge in shots on goal (plus two other triesthat hit the crossbar), and earned a 7-3 margin on corner kicks.
Notre Dame freshman goalkeeper Elyse Hight was strong when she had to be on Sunday, making two saves for her third consecutive solo shutout, and her fourth of the season (to go along with one shared clean sheet). Anghel kept her side in contention with six saves, including a huge early stop that kept the Fighting Irish from immediately gaining the upper hand.
“At this time of year, you want wins, no matter how they may look, and that’s what we got today,” Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. “It certainly wasn’t our best performance by any means, but some of the credit for that has to go to their defense. We also had some chances in thefirst half to get the lead, and I think it would have been a different margin had we been able to pull them out of that defensive style earlier on. We did a better job of pressuring them in the second half and eventually it paid off, with Cari making a very composed play to get around their keeper and the defender and then not rush her shot into the empty net. There’s a lot we can learn from a game like this, but we’re happy to be moving on and looking forward to the conference semifinals next weekend.”
The Fighting Irish had a golden opportunity almost right off the opening kickoff, working the ball down the right side to junior forward/tri-captain Elizabeth Tucker , who delivered a dangerous service near the top of the six-yard box. Roccaro knifed inside her defender and smashed a header from 10 yards out towards the right post, but Syracuse goalkeeper Brittany Anghel tracked the shot well and grabbed it with a dive to her left.
Tucker herself then challenged the Syracuse net in the ninth minute, timing her run on a cross by sophomore forward Lauren Bohaboy, but ringing her own short-range header off the crossbar before the Orange defense recovered to clear the rebound out for a corner kick.
Syracuse (9-7-2) got its lone shot on goal of the first half in the 28th minute, as Alyscha Mottershead tried a flick header off a long-range free kick, but her shot bounced harmlessly to Hight near the left post. Maya Pitts also technically was credited with a shot off the crossbar in the 32nd minute, as her ambitious 30-yard attempt to catch Hight off her line clipped the top of the frame on its way over the by-line.
In the 56th minuter, freshman defender Brittany Von Rueden had her own brush with the woodwork, curling her corner kick from the left flag squarely off the crossbar, but no Fighting Irish player was in the vicinity to knock in the rebound.
Syracuse tried in vain to find the tying score in the closing minutes, but Pitts’ shot from distance that skipped right into Hight’s waiting arms in the 80th minute was the only Orange shot in the final 24 minutes of the match.