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Wednesday, May 29, 2024
The Observer

ND opens NCAA tournament in convincing fashion over IUPUI

Notre Dame took on IUPUI on Saturday night in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Irish were looking to bounce back from a quarterfinal setback in the ACC tournament against North Carolina State and they got just what they needed, steamrolling the Jaguars 5-0.

Zach Yim | The Observer
rish graduate student midfielder Sandra Yu controls the ball during Notre Dame’s 3-0 loss to Duke on Sept. 21 at Alumni Stadium.

The Irish (10-6-4, 5-3-2 ACC) dominated early, controlling the ball and pace of play. The Irish outshot the Jaguars 30-4 on the day, and were constantly playing in the IUPUI end. In the 18th minute, freshman midfielder Kate O’Connor fired a shot off the crossbar, allowing sophomore forward Natalie Jacobs to collect the rebound and scored her team-leading 11th goal of the season. Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo was impressed with the team’s offensive output.

“I think we played some really good defense and didn’t give them many opportunities,” Romagnolo said. “We attacked in the way we defended and we attacked when we were on the ball.”

In the 36th minute, graduate student midfielder Sandra Yu scored a short range shot that doubled the Irish lead. Junior midfielder Sabrina Flores was able to put a pass right on Yu’s foot that allowed her to beat the lunging goal keeper.

When the Irish weren’t scoring, they were playing strong defense in front of senior goalkeeper Lexi Nicholas. Nicholas only made one save on the night, and the team’s backline held strong all night. Romagnolo said she was impressed with the team’s defense.

“I thought we were very aggressive and didn’t give them time on the ball,” Romagnolo said. “We stepped in front on their chances and we connected well with the ball. We didn’t just kick it.”

IUPUI (14-6-3) looked to turn the momentum in its favor after halftime, but were immediately stopped with a header goal by sophomore forward Jennifer Westendorf. Senior defender Ginny McGowan crossed the ball into the box in prime position for Westendorf to put it in the back of the net and blow the game wide open.

Freshman forward Erin Ospeck and senior forward Katie Uhler would add goals late in the game to extend the lead to 5-0. Ospeck’s goal was the first of her Notre Dame career, and Uhler’s goal came in what will be the last home game of her career.

The Irish will now turn their attention to their second round opponent: No. 2-seed Texas A&M. Romagnolo laid out the team’s plans for the next few days after the win.

“Just get rested and healthy again,” Romagnolo said. “On Tuesday we'll get back after it and have a better idea of what Texas A&M does well and begin to get our game plan in order.”

Sixth-ranked Texas A&M will pose a challenge for the Irish. The reigning SEC conference champion hasn’t lost since Sept. 15 against Auburn and hasn’t conceded more than one goal in a game since a 2-0 loss to Butler on Sept. 8. Romagnolo believes continuing strong defense will be the key to victory.

“Defense is a big one [towards beating Texas A&M],” Romagnolo said. “We just have to continue to stop the opponent from having good opportunities and if we do that well then we’re a team that can create a lot of opportunities.”

The Irish will take on the Aggies on Friday at 8:30 p.m. in a road trip to College Station.