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Wednesday, April 24, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame women’s soccer cruise past Miami, look ahead to Boston College showdown Sunday

Thursday night Notre Dame women’s soccer went on the road and grabbed a dominating victory, taking down conference foe Miami 5-0 in Coral Gables.

The Irish controlled the match all the way through, taking an early lead by way of junior midfielder Maddie Mercado, who added a goal in an assist within 5 minutes of coming on midway through the first half. Mercado’s 28th minute goal and junior forward Kiki Van Zanten’s 32nd minute strike set the tone for Notre Dame, who would add three more to their total in the second half.

Senior forward Olivia Wingate provided a brace, knocking home feeds from junior forward Kati Druzina and Korbin Albert in the 50th and 59th minute respectively, before squad-leading scorer and graduate student Sammi Fisher notched a goal of her own to make it five for the Irish in the 65th minute.

The win, which moves Notre Dame to 8-1-1 on the season and 2-0-0 in conference play, comes as a solid tune up before the Irish enter their more difficult portion of the schedule in October. While any victory over a conference foe is a good victory, the two comprehensive takedowns of Syracuse and Miami that Notre Dame has opened ACC play with were probably to be expected. The Orange and Hurricanes are second to last and last in conference play respectively, and the pair also clock in at an uninspiring 127th and 170th in adjusted RPI.

And while no win can be taken for granted in the ACC, generally regarded as the nation’s top soccer conference, Notre Dame’s first true test might come when Boston College comes to South Bend on Sunday. While the Eagles have cooled off somewhat in recent weeks, they’ve shown flashes of a red-hot offense that will almost certainly be looking to challenge first-year starter Ashley Naylor in net. Though Boston College sits close to the bottom of the current conference table, don’t be fooled: Their two losses in ACC play have come against a Florida State squad that is one of the best in the nation and a Wake Forest team that has slowly been making a case for a top 25 ranking. Given their propensity for scoring (the Eagles have scored three or more goals in seven of their first 10 matches) and the motivational implications of a rivalry game, Boston College will be far from an easy task for Irish head coach Nate Norman, looking to continue his best ever start as Notre Dame coach.

Looking further down the line, Notre Dame would also be wise to pick up as many clean, decisive conference wins as they can early on in their schedule, as an absolutely brutal mid-to-late October stretch looms. Starting on Oct. 10, Notre Dame will face a Clemson team that made the national quarterfinals, before going on the road for three straight potentially top 10 games against Virginia (currently seventh nationally in the coaches poll and 11th in adjusted RPI), Duke (second in the coaches poll and second in adjusted RPI) and UNC (fourth in the coaches poll and third in adjusted RPI). You’d be hard-pressed to find a more difficult three-game road gauntlet than that, and the Irish will need any and all momentum they can get heading into that stretch.

You can catch Notre Dame looking to continue their impressive start to the season at Alumni Stadium on Sunday, as the Boston College Eagles come to town for a 1 p.m. kickoff. The match will also be broadcasted on the ACC Network.