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Monday, March 4, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame defeats Virginia behind late comeback, set to face Boston College

Trailing 9-4 to Virginia at halftime of the ACC tournament quarterfinals, Notre Dame’s NCAA tournament chances appeared all but gone. But two late goals from freshman midfielder Andie Aldave completed one of the most important comebacks in program history and sent the Irish to the conference semifinals.

After just over a minute of play, Aldave opened the scoring for the Irish. However, the Cavaliers soon took control of the game, embarking on a 6-1 run started and finished by sophomore midfielder Sammy Mueller, the last three goals of which each coming from the free position. The Irish cut the lead thanks to goals from senior midfielder Molly Cobb and sophomore midfielder Savannah Buchanan, but in the final 10 minutes of the half, it appeared that the Cavaliers had all but put the game away. Junior attack Avery Shoemaker scored to end the Irish momentum and when senior midfielder Kasey Behr made the score 8-4, Irish head coach Christine Halfpenny opted to make a change at goalie, bringing in freshman Bridget Deehan for junior Samantha Giacolone, who had saved just two of the 10 shots she faced. Yet before Deehan had even spent two minutes in the net, Behr scored again to give the Cavaliers a five-goal advantage headed into halftime.

Freshman midfielder Maddie Howe surveys the field during Notre Dame's 15-10 victory over Marquette on February 28 at Arlotta Stadium.
Freshman midfielder Maddie Howe surveys the field during Notre Dame's 15-10 victory over Marquette on February 28 at Arlotta Stadium.

The score remained 9-4 for the first five minutes of the second half, but sophomore midfielder Kathleen Roe gave the Irish hope with a goal after causing a turnover. Another five minutes passed without a goal, during which Virginia took six shots, but it was Notre Dame who scored again thanks to a free position from freshman attack Maddie Howe. That opened the floodgates for Notre Dame, as Buchanan scored just 34 seconds later before Howe added her 40th goal of the season within two minutes of her 39th. However, just over a minute later, Shoemaker scored to put a pause on the Irish run and restore Virginia’s two-goal lead at 10-8.

With just under 12 minutes remaining, freshman midfielder Katie Enrietto scored to put the Irish back within one goal. The Cavaliers had three free position opportunities in the following seven minutes but couldn’t convert any, while the Irish needed only one for Aldave to tie the score. With the score tied, Buchanan won a crucial draw control, her fifth of the game. Aldave again won a free position and the freshman did not disappoint, giving the Irish a lead with 2:42 remaining.

However, the game was far from over, especially after Virginia’s Maggie Jackson controlled the draw. Shoemaker had a shot saved by Deehan with just over two minutes remaining and with under 20 seconds left, she pulled off another save from Mueller to seal the game.

Buchanan and Aldave led the Irish with three goals apiece, while Behr had four goals for the Cavaliers. Deehan finished the game with a .818 save percentage, making nine saves.

The Irish will now face a difficult challenge in a rematch with top-seeded Boston College, who cruised past Louisville 19-6 on Thursday. The Eagles, led by junior attack Sam Apuzzo’s 71 goals, 31 assists and 117 draw controls, have a perfect record this season but the Irish played them close in the season-opener for both teams, eventually dropping the game 13-11.

The Irish will meet the Eagles at 5 p.m. Friday at Koskinen Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.