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Monday, March 4, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame tops San Diego State on Senior Day behind strong offensive performances

Irish sophomore attack Jessi Masinko scored five goals, tying her career-best mark, as No. 20 Notre Dame defeated San Diego State on Senior Day, 16-7.

The Irish (9-8, 3-4 ACC) were in great need of a victory to bolster their NCAA tournament hopes after a loss at Albany on Wednesday, and early on, things seemed to get worse for Notre Dame as the Aztecs (9-8, 1-1 MPSF) opened the scoring through senior midfielder Elizabeth Rourke.

However, the Irish struck back within a minute with a goal from sophomore midfielder Savannah Buchanan and took their first lead of the game after a goal from freshman midfielder Maddie Howe two minutes after Buchanan’s. The Aztecs tied the score again after junior midfielder Jill Haight scored, but the Irish then began to pull away. Head coach Christine Halfpenny’s team held a 5-2 lead with a minute remaining before halftime before Masinko scored twice — the second goal coming from the free position in the final second of the half — to give her team a much more comfortable 7-2 lead at the break. The Irish dominated the first half in terms of scoring opportunities, taking 20 shots to San Diego State's eight, despite losing the first-half draw control battle 5-4.

Irish sophomore attack Jessi Masinko chases down the opposing goalie during Notre Dame’s 15-10 win over Marquette on Feb. 28 at Arlotta Stadium.
Irish sophomore attack Jessi Masinko chases down the opposing goalie during Notre Dame’s 15-10 win over Marquette on Feb. 28 at Arlotta Stadium.

Early in the second half, the Irish further solidified their lead, first through senior midfielder Molly Cobb, who scored 90 seconds into the second half, then with goals from freshman midfielder Andie Aldave, junior attack Nikki Ortega and a second from Cobb to give the Irish an 11-2 lead.

The Aztecs ended the 9-0 run and cut the lead slightly to 12-4 midway through the second half. However, Masinko again stepped up, adding three more goals in a span of three minutes to give the Irish a 15-4 lead with under 12 minutes left to play.

The Aztecs scored three of the game’s last four goals to cut the Irish lead back down to single-digits, but it remained a comfortable Senior Day victory for Notre Dame, closing out as a 16-7 win.

Masinko’s five goals led the Irish and brought her to 22 goals for the season, while Ortega’s goal also brought her to 20 in 2018, as the pair became the fifth and sixth 20-goal scorers for the Irish this season.

Howe scored three goals and added two assists, to bring her to 53 points this season, ahead of Shaylyn Blaney’s 52 points for third in all-time the Irish freshman points leaderboard, behind only Jillian Byers and Cortney Fortunato, who sit first and second in Irish history, respectively, for both goals and points. Fellow freshman Andie Aldave, who already holds the single-season program record for draw controls, extended that tally with seven more, putting her just four draw controls away from 100 for the season, as the Irish dominated on the draw during the second half by winning 11-of-15 second-half draw controls. Aldave also added two ground-ball pickups and three caused turnovers. For the Aztecs, Haight led the way in scoring with three goals.

The Irish will meet No. 17 Virginia in the ACC quarterfinals after the Cavaliers lost to No. 12 Virginia Tech on Saturday. With the Irish ranked 27th in RPI before this week, in which they posted a 1-1 record, Notre Dame will likely need an impressive performance at the conference tournament in order to make an NCAA tournament appearance. The game will start at 2 p.m. Thursday in Durham, North Carolina.