No. 16 Notre Dame women’s soccer traveled to Chestnut Hill on Thursday night and were the aggressor throughout. The Irish ultimately emerged with a comprehensive 3-0 victory over Boston College.
After a dominant 7-0 start to the season in nonconference play, the Irish entered the game coming off of an up-and-down first two weeks of their conference slate. Notre Dame began ACC play with a loss on the road against Clemson. They then bounced back with a huge home victory over No. 2 Virginia. But then they lost again, this time against Pitt at home.
Meanwhile, Boston College’s front-loaded ACC schedule pitted them against a trio of highly ranked teams in Florida State, Duke and UNC in their first three conference games. The Eagles struggled as they dropped the games by a combined score of 12-0.
As the game began, Notre Dame controlled possession for most of the first half. The opening 45 minutes were defined by fast-paced ball movement and strong defensive play. This has been characteristic of an Irish team. They are among the nation’s best in putting shots on goal, but struggle in converting those chances into scores.
In the tenth minute, a cross was sent to senior midfielder Maddie Mercado in close range of the goal. But her volley attempt went just wide, and the game remained scoreless. She would have another chance just minutes later when graduate student forward Olivia Wingate played a perfect pass through the Eagle defense that left her all alone behind the back line. This time, Mercado delivered. She put a low shot just past the Boston College goalie to kick off the scoring for Notre Dame. The goal was the seventh of the season for Mercado, who has been effective as a starter after largely coming off the bench last year. The assist was Wingate’s third.
The Irish maintained their aggression after taking the lead. Late in the first half, junior midfielder Eva Gaetino's header off of a corner kick seemed destined to go in. But it was deflected off the line in a goal-saving play by Boston College defender Eabha O’Mahony. Gaetino, who exited the game against Pitt early with a head injury, played a crucial role in the Irish’s impressive defensive performance in her return to action.
After the halftime break, the same duo that produced the Irish’s first goal reversed roles to combine for another. Mercado controlled the ball in the middle of the field and found an open Wingate to the right. Wingate slotted the ball home in the bottom right corner of the net. The goal matched Mercado’s team high with a seventh goal of the season, making the score 2-0.
The scoring continued for the Irish in quick succession. Less than a minute later, senior forward Kiki Van Zanten used a smooth spin move to navigate through a cluster of Boston College defenders and scored her third goal of the year from outside of the box to give the Irish a 3-0 lead midway through the second half.
With a Notre Dame victory seemingly in hand, Boston College increased the intensity of its attack. But graduate student goalkeeper Mackenzie Wood and the Irish back line kept the Eagle offense at bay and preserved a 3-0 shutout victory.
Looking ahead, the scoring outburst should provide the Notre Dame offense with a much-needed confidence boost. Especially since the team had scored just twice in its first three ACC games combined. The Irish, now 2-2 in conference play, will have a week off before returning to South Bend’s Alumni Stadium for a pair of important home games. The first comes against NC State next Thursday at 7 p.m. After, they take on No. 7 Florida State, the defending national champions, next Sunday at noon.
Contact Matthew Crow at email@example.com.