Notre Dame women’s soccer moved to 5-0 in ACC play on Thursday night, taking down Louisville 3-0 at Alumni Stadium.
The win came by way of a trio of first-half goals by the Irish, who scored in the first minute and didn’t lose control of the match after. Freshman midfielder Korbin Albert got the scoring started with a cool finish just 47 seconds into the match, the third quickest goal recorded in program history. Albert then doubled up immediately after, once again taking a feed from graduate student midfielder Sammi Fisher and rifling the ball home. And then minutes before the halftime whistle, freshman midfielder Sophia Fisher tripled the lead for Notre Dame, latching onto a through ball from junior forward Kiki Van Zanten and firing home at the near post of the Louisville goal.
Unsurprisingly, Coach Nate Norman was impressed by the fast start. “I thought [the team] did fantastic,” Norman said. “I’m really proud of them. We started with a lot of energy, obviously getting that early goal helped out a lot, but I thought we played with a really strong determination and that we remained pretty relentless too as the game went on.”
The win, Notre Dame’s seventh in a row, sets the Irish up with plenty of momentum for an important clash with Clemson on Sunday. The Tigers, who made the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament last year, will travel to South Bend as likely the best team the Irish will face all season. And what’s more, Sunday's match with the Tigers will could serve as a launching pad for what would be a potentially season-defining road run for the Irish against three of the country’s best teams in Virginia, Duke, and North Carolina.
Norman is keeping his team focused on each individual match, and not the looming road trip. “We try to break the season up into mini-seasons. And we’re in another mini-season right now that ends with the Clemson game. So we’re trying to focus on taking care of each point before we take on the next group,” Norman said.
One promising trend for Norman’s Irish both for the present and the future is the freshman scoring streak that has now stretched to five goals across two games. Between Korbin Albert, Katie Coyle, and Sophia Fisher, every goal Notre Dame has scored in October so far has been by a rookie. Freshmen making their mark on the team this early on in their careers is always a good sign in a conference like the ACC where new contributors are needed every year to stay competitive, and the depth and quality of Notre Dame’s 2021 class have added thus far have both bolstered the team.
Notre Dame’s next match will be this Sunday, as Clemson travels to Alumni Stadium for what will likely be a match with both ACC and NCAA tournament seeding implications. The game will kickoff at 3 p.m. in South Bend and will be broadcasted on ESPN3.