Dec. 5, 2008
Final Stats |
CARY, N.C. - Notre Dame could only manage one goal on Stanford in tonight's first semifinal of the 2008 College Cup, but it would be enough as the Irish went on to hand the Cardinal only its second loss of the season, ending the program's bid for its first national title.
"I feel like it was a tough game, a well fought game," said head coach Paul Ratcliffe. "Notre Dame is a very strong team, and I give them credit. In the second half I though we came out very strong, and we deserved more than the 1-0 loss. I thought we created some good chances, and we just couldn't break the ice. But overall I thought it was a good game, a high level game and I'm proud of my team's effort."
Stanford had a handful of chances in the first five minutes of the match, but the Notre Dame defense was able to prevent them from putting anything in the back of the net. Freshman Lindsay Taylor's low cross was intercepted by the Irish back line and junior Kelley O'Hara's shot was deflected high into the air for an easy catch by Notre Dame goalkeeper Kelsey Lysander in only the first two minutes of the game.
Sophomore Kira Maker then came up big on the Irish's first threatening opportunity, making the low collapse save to keep things scoreless just 12 minutes in as Notre Dame's Melissa Henderson attempted to finish a low cross from the left side.
Just under three minutes later, Stanford fell behind 1-0 at 14:07 when Courtney Barg received the low pass from Henderson on the right, took one touch towards the goal and finished low and to the far post.
The Cardinal recovered quickly, and almost knotted the game on the ensuing kickoff, as junior O'Hara fired one just wide of the net after the charge up field from the restart.
Twenty-two minutes in, Stanford had its next dangerous chance of the game, as freshman Teresa Noyola
sent a ball over the top to O'Hara, who ran on to the ball past the Irish defense. O'Hara managed to get the shot off despite heavy pressure directly behind her, and almost nutmegged Lysander from 14 yards out, but the Notre Dame keeper was able to get a piece of her body on it and deflect it.
Then, with 18 minutes to go in the half, O'Hara got her own rebound off a shot and carried the ball towards the end line. She got off a driven cross right to the head of sophomore Christen Press, who put her attempt on goal, but Lysander was there to make the save.
At 38:46, freshman Camille Levin collected the ball off a weak clearance from the Irish defense off a corner kick, and nearly chipped Lysander to even things up, but the ball hit the crossbar and bounced out of play for a goal kick.
The Cardinal finished the half with a 11-7 edge in shots, 4-1 advantage in corner kicks, and forced Lysander to make four saves compared to Maker's one.
In the second half, Stanford controlled most of the play, but was unable to net the tying goal despite many close chances and outshooting Notre Dame again on the half, 9-5. O'Hara's header in the 56th minute went just high, Levin's wide open shot from the top of the box was unable to find its way through traffic in front of the net, and Lysander made a save on senior Allison Falk's header off a corner kick.
"We played very strong defensively and I thought we played very well as a team, especially in the second half," said Falk. "I thought we got a little unlucky, and they got lucky and broke through and we had one break down in the first half, and they got a goal and we didn't, so that's soccer."
"It's been a spectacular season," said Ratcliffe. "The team has played great soccer the entire year and I'm proud of every one of them. We were happy to be in the final four, but we really wanted to win the national title, so obviously we're all disappointed."
The Cardinal outshot the Irish 20-12, the most strikes Notre Dame has conceded to a team this year, and forced Lysander to make seven saves. Stanford finishes its season with a 22-2-1 record, setting the school's single season records for most wins in a season and most goals in a season (71).