SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The No. 18 Notre Dame women’s soccer (8-1-0, 1-1-0) knocked off No. 2 Virginia (8-1-1, 1-1-0) on Thursday night inside Alumni Stadium and handed the Cavaliers their first loss of the 2022 season.
It marked the first signature victory (first top-10 ranked win) for Doug & Lisa Jones Family Notre Dame head coach Nate Norman. It also marked the program’s first top-2 victory since the 2015 season – ironically enough over No. 1 Virginia (W 2-1).
The Irish dictated play for a majority of the match, as evidenced by the 8-1 shots on goal differential. In fact, Virginia entered tonight ranked fifth in the nation in total goals with a 30-3 aggregate, but the Cavaliers ran into the brick wall that is the Irish backline. Eva Gaetino, Waniya Hudson, Leah Klenke and Bri Martinez stood firm and helped graduate goalkeeper Mackenzie Wood earn the clean sheet and shutout.
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The offensive breakthrough came in the 76th minute off a Korbin Albert corner kick. After the ball deflected off a few heads around the top of the six, it found Mercado’s foot, which promptly put it into the back of the net.
The goal was Mercado’s sixth of the season which already marks a career best for her in a season – and were just nine games in.
How It Happened
The first half featured a great battle between the two sides with the possession coming in at nearly 50/50. Both Notre Dame and Virginia recorded four shots each, but all of Irish’s shots were on net.
Olivia Wingate tallied all four shots and recorded two breakaways in the half. The first was a great through ball from Maddie Mercado and Wingate sped past all the defenders but her shot caught the keeper’s foot in the middle of the goal.
The second was a great display of Wingate’s dribbling ability, opening up space at the top of the key to fire off a right-footed shot, but the keeper made another diving save.
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Notre Dame boasted two near chances off of set plays in the early goings of the second half – both off the foot of Korbin Albert as well. First it was a corner kick in the 51st minute as Albert’s ball found Kati Druzina on the far post. Druzina volleyed but the keeper was in the right spot for the save.
The next was a free kick in the 53rd minute, as Albert’s ball found Eva Gaetino’s head in the middle of the box. Unfortunately the header went just wide ride of the post.
The next Notre Dame near chance occurred in the 69th minute when Mercado was fouled just outside the box which set up a free-kick from Albert. The sophomore’s shot went just high of the crossbar.
As mentioned above, Mercado was in the right place at the right time off a Albert corner kick in the 76th minute. It marked her team best third game-winner of the season.
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