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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame exits NCAA tournament after loss to unseeded Baylor

Notre Dame advanced to the NCAA Sweet 16 after Friday’s victory over No. 2 seeded Texas A&M before dropping its Sweet 16 matchup against unseeded Baylor.

The score remained 2-2 at the end of regulation, but the Irish (10-7-5, 5-3-2 ACC) outscored the Aggies (18-2-2, 9-1-0 SEC) 4-1 in penalty kicks. The Irish squad ended the Aggies’ 14-game winning streak and moved onto the third round of the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2014 season.

Anna Mason | The Observer
Irish senior midfielder Taylor Klawunder dribbles up the pitch during Notre Dame’s 3-0 win over Duke on Sept. 21 at Alumni Stadium. Klawunder scored one goal this season and took 13 shots.

Notre Dame’s midfielders outran the Aggies on both sides of the field and held possession for the majority of the first half, outshooting Texas A&M 12-6 in the first 45 minutes. However, in the 37th minute, Texas A&M put a point on the board first when senior midfielder Mikaela Harvey hit the right-footer from 30 yards out. Six minutes later, Irish freshman forward Eva Hurm responded with her first career goal off the assist from junior midfielder Sabrina Flores. The two teams headed into halftime at Ellis Field in College Station, Texas, tied up 1-1.

The second half was a defensive battle between the Irish and the Aggies, but in the 83rd minute Notre Dame drew a foul in the box. This led to sophomore forward Natalie Jacobs’ penalty kick opportunity, which she capitalized on when she sent the ball into the low, left corner of the goal to increase the score to 2-1. Jacobs is the team-leader in goals, with this being her 13th of the season.

Aggies’ junior midfielder Emily Bates tied the game backup in the 87th minute, sending the teams into overtime after a 2-2 draw in regulation.

After two 10-minute overtime periods, and no scoring, the teams headed into penalty kicks. Jacobs had the first shooting opportunity and netted it, followed by an Aggies’ goal in response. The Irish then claimed the game, when senior midfielder Taylor Klawunder, sophomore forward Jennifer Westendorf and senior defender Ginny McGowan each made their penalty kicks, with Texas A&M responding with none. The Irish came out ahead 4-1.

Next up, the Irish faced Baylor in the third round of the NCAA championship on Sunday.

The Irish had one goal going into Sunday’s game against Baylor (15-5-3, 4-4-1 Big 12): move forward to the Elite Eight. However, Notre Dame fell to the Bears 3-2 in overtime in the Sweet 16 in College Station. Ultimately, Notre Dame was outshot 19-13, and more importantly, Baylor was able to put more shots on goal.

The Irish went down 1-0 in the 41st minute after a Bears goal by junior forward Lauren Piercy. The game looked even more grim as Baylor junior midfielder Kennedy Brown scored another goal a few minutes later later to make it 2-0.

However, the Irish responded with two goals of their own within five minutes of each other: Klawunder in the 53rd minute and another courtesy of Westendorf in the 57th. Klawunder’s goal, assisted by Jacobs, came from 20 yards out left and hit just inside the right post. Westendorf scored from just outside of the penalty area after a centering pass from Hurm.

Despite being outshot in regulation, the Irish women had a chance to advance to the Elite Eight in overtime. However, Notre Dame failed to tally a single shot in overtime. Baylor controlled the ball and scored on their sixth shot in the sixth minute of overtime. Senior defender Precious Akanyirige was credited with the game-winning goal from inside the six-yard box after a rebound via a shot by Piercy.

Irish head coach Theresa Romagnolo commented that it was a disappointing loss, but the team fought hard and has a lot to be proud of.

“It was an unfortunate ending to a good season,” she said. “I feel bad for our seniors, but I am proud of our second half effort and it was a great comeback.”