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Monday, May 20, 2024
The Observer

ND Women's Soccer: And Again

In front of a sold-out crowd, Notre Dame won its fourth-consecutive NCAA Quarterfinal Friday by beating top-seeded Florida State 2-0 in Tallahassee.

"I really wasn't expecting much of a crowd on a Friday night on Thanksgiving weekend, but credit to them the place was packed," Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. "There was a parking garage behind the stadium and it was full for three levels with people tailgating and standing there to watch the game."

Notre Dame's previous three quarterfinal appearances were at Alumni Field, so the road experience was a new one, but Waldrum said the team adapted well.

"This one was a little different being on the road, but the team handled all of it very well," he said. "It was a great environment, and it made it much nicer when we scored to quiet all of them."

The Irish (21-3-1) scored two goals in less than a minute in the first half to provide the difference in the game. Sophomore forward Melissa Henderson corralled a loose ball near the goal with seven minutes left in the first half and quickly put it into the corner of the goal before Florida State goalkeeper Erin McNulty could dive over.

"[Junior forward] Erica Iantorno sent in a really dangerous ball, and [senior forward] Michele Weissenhofer put a lot of pressure on the defender, which is what you want," Waldrum said. "Henderson was following up the play and was right there to knock it in."
Just 51 seconds later, junior forward Rose Augustin sent a corner kick across the middle that found senior forward Haley Ford's head and then the back of the net.

"As soon as we started taking things over a bit we got our two goals quick," Waldrum said. "It had to be really deflating for [Florida State] to go into the half knowing they had played a pretty good half but were still down two goals."

Both teams took 14 shots, but Notre Dame was much more efficient with its shots on goal; the Irish took three shots on goal, and only one was saved, whereas the Seminoles put five shots on the net, all saved by junior goalkeeper Nikki Weiss in her seventh solo shutout of the season.

"[Weiss] was fantastic," Waldrum said. "As good as she has been for us throughout the playoffs and the regular season, she probably had one of her best games against Florida State. She didn't really have to stop many shots because they didn't have any real clear cut shots on goal … but she was really good for us as she handled all those long throw-ins and crosses really well."

The berth in the College Cup is Notre Dame's fourth in a row, and fifth in six seasons. Overall, the Irish have made it to the last weekend of college soccer 11 times.

North Carolina awaits the Irish in College Station, Texas. The Tar Heels beat Wake Forest 5-2 on Nov. 27. Notre Dame and North Carolina met on Sept. 4 in the first game at newly-constructed Alumni Stadium. The Tar Heels won in a 6-0 rout.

The Irish will look for their revenge against North Carolina in the NCAA Semifinals Friday.