Photo courtesy of BC Women's Soccer / Twitter

Women's Soccer Struggles in South Bend

Women’s soccer fell to ACC opponent Notre Dame 4-1 at Alumni Stadium in South Bend, Indiana Sunday. It was a game of penalty kicks, with three being awarded during the game.

Five minutes into the game, Irish forward Olivia Wingate received a pass in the box and had a clear look at the goal. Eagles defender Haley Thomas stuck her leg out and inadvertently tripped Wingate. The referee awarded the Irish a penalty kick and Thomas earned a yellow card on the play.

Sammi Fisher stepped up to the spot to take the penalty for the Irish. Fisher, leading the Irish with eight goals on the season, made no mistake in converting the penalty for her ninth goal. Eagles goalkeeper Wiebke Willebrandt dove to her right as Fisher calmly knocked the ball into the lower left netting, giving the Irish a 1-0 lead.

Halfway through the second, the Eagles were called for a handball in the box, giving Notre Dame their second penalty kick of the game. Maddie Mercado stepped up to the spot and buried an almost identical strike to the previous penalty. Willebrandt dove to the left and Mercado buried the shot in the middle of the right-side netting to make it 2-0 for the Fighting Irish.

The Eagle’s chance at a penalty kick came in the 74th minute. Linda Boama was fouled in the box and calmly stepped up to the spot. Boama took a short run-up and sent a skipper into the lower right corner, beating Notre Dame keeper Ashley Naylor who had dived the right way. Boama’s eighth goal of the season made the score 3-1 in favor of Notre Dame.

The Irish dominated in the first half by keeping Eagles forward Ella Richards contained. Notre Dame created 11 chances to the Eagles’ two. Their offense had the run of the field, creating seemingly endless space to terrorize the Eagle’s defense and force Willebrandt to make saves.

Both of the Eagles' best chances in the first half came off of Jenna Bike crosses into the box. Bike had control of the left side of the field, creating enough space to fire off well-timed crosses into the box. Éabha O’Mahony found herself on the end of one such cross, but couldn’t place the header where she wanted it, sending the ball over the crossbar in the 10th minute.  

The Irish responded immediately to the Eagles' chance. Brianna Martinez took off down the right-field line to receive a pass from Olivia Wingate into open space. Taking a few dribbles, Martinez fired off a cross that Willebrandt blocked, but couldn’t hold onto. The ball trickled out towards an unmarked Irish player, but the Eagles' defense managed to scramble back into formation in enough time to prevent a shot.  

The second half started with the Eagles dominating possession and attempting to connect passes to build an attack. The penalty kick given in the 64th minute changed the momentum and forced the Eagles to take more chances with the ball, allowing Notre Dame more space in transition.

In the 69th minute, Notre Dame defender Kaylie Ronan took advantage of the acres of space on the left-field line and ran into the box. No one stepped up and Ronan slotted a shot past Willebrandt and into the far-post back netting.

Boama did have a chance to steal a goal back in the 79th minute. Notre Dame keeper Naylor failed to hold onto a cross into the box and the ball bounced to Boama, who was two feet away. The Eagles forward managed to get two shots off, one from the ground, but couldn’t touch it past Naylor and a Notre Dame defender.

With two seconds left, Fisher collected her second goal of the game, with Fighting Irish keeper Naylor receiving an assist on the play. Naylor booted the ball down three-quarters of the field, where it bounced to Fisher, who was in clear on goal. Willebrandt had no chance to stop the shot as Fisher tucked it into the far-post.

The Eagles (6-4-1) return to Newton on Saturday, October 2nd to take on Miami under the lights at 7:00 pm.

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