October 14, 2012
Seventh minute goal give Irish 1-0 win
VILLANOVA, Pa. – Freshman forward Anna Maria Gilbertson scored the quickest goal of the season for giving Notre Dame a 1-0 win over Villanova at and clinching a top-two finish in the Big East Conference’s National Division Sunday afternoon at the West Campus Soccer Complex.
With the victory, the Fighting Irish (11-4-2, 7-1-1 Big East) also locked up a home match in the quarterfinal round of the upcoming Big East Championship, with that conference tournament quarterfinal date, time and opponent to be determined once conference plays ends next weekend.
Junior midfielder Mandy Laddish and freshman forward Mary Schwappach both earned assists on Gilbertson’s goal, which was her fifth of the season and first career match-winning score.
Freshman goalkeeper Elyse Hight was sharp in her first start since the Sept. 14 Big East opener against Louisville, making three saves to record her second solo shutout of the year. ami Kranich did all she could to keep Villanova (6-8-3, 4-4-1) in the match, registering nine saves to tie a Notre Dame opponent season high.
The Fighting Irish finished with a 23-9 edge in total shots, including a 10-3 margin in shots on goal.
“I thought we bounced back well after Friday’s performance at Georgetown,” Fighting Irish head coach Randy Waldrum said. “We made some changes in the lineup and they worked well. Anna (Maria Gilbertson) had a great strike to get us in front early, and we continued to create dangerous opportunities throughout the game. Elyse (Hight) came up big when we needed her to, and we did a nice job of staying focused and composed, finishing the game and keeping their chances to a minimum.”
Notre Dame’s goal came in the seventh minute, starting with a service up the left channel to Schwappach. The rookie alertly flicked a header to Laddish racing up the center of the attacking third, and in turn, Laddish one-timed a chip to Gilbertson in space on the right side of the box. Gilbertson wasted little time in hammering her shot to the short side, beating Kranich with a drive that twisted high into the upper right corner of the net.
The Fighting Irish dodged a huge bullet in the 12th minute, when Hayley Wilson’s corner kick from the far right flag curled through traffic at the near post, but Hight made an athletic play to dive back and snare the ball just inches before it crossed the stripe.
After that near-miss, Notre Dame maintained much of the possession for the remainder of the day, keeping Kranich on her toes with a variety of forays into the attacking third.
The Wildcats did have a handful of solid looks, starting in the 81st minute, when Heidi Sabatura found a crease at the top of the box and drove a low shot towards the right post. However, Hight tracked the ball well, diving to her left and getting a hand on the shot, pushing it wide of the post.
The last good chance of the day for Villanova came in the 88th minute, when a right-side cross eluded Hight and dropped near the penalty spot for Renee Hart, but the VU freshman sailed her 12-yard shot over the bar.
Notre Dame will close out the regular season at 3 p.m. CT (4 p.m. ET) Friday, when it travels to Chicago to take on DePaul at WishField.