Nov. 24, 2000
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Santa Clara's women's soccer team lost a heartbreaker tonight, falling to top-ranked Notre Dame 2-1 in an overtime NCAA quarterfinal match at Alumni Field. The loss marks the second straight year the Irish have eliminated Santa Clara from the postseason, as UND took a 1-0 win in the 1999 semifinals.
The Broncos finish their season with a 16-7-1 record after advancing to their 12th straight NCAA Tournament appearance and sixth straight quarterfinal berth. Notre Dame, now 23-0-1, will play North Carolina in a semifinal match at San Jose State University's Spartan Stadium on Dec. 1. The College Cup final will be played Dec. 3.
"We felt like we were the better team out there today," head coach Jerry Smith said. "Tomorrow or yesterday might have been different. But today we felt like we were the better team. But it's not about shots. It's about goals and winning, and finding a way to do it. And we didn't do it this year and we didn't do it last year. There's something Notre Dame is doing that is really shutting us down... or, maybe it's the luck of the Irish, I don't know. But we have to give them credit because they're a very good team and we wish them all the best in the final four next weekend."
Notre Dame put the first goal on the scoreboard on their third shot, when Ali Lovelace's volley from 10 yards out hit the far side of the net in the match's 17th minute. Last season, it was Lovelace's score that gave the Irish the upset win over a then-undefeated Santa Clara squad.
With just under three minutes left in regulation, sophomore midfielder Aly Wagner took the corner kick for the Broncos on the near side. The ball played out, and after one bounce, junior defender Anna Kraus one-timed it into the upper left corner of the net for her first goal of the season. Irish goalkeeper Liz Wagner got a hand on it, while defender Monica Gonzalez was also right there, but neither could stop the score.
"That was an unbelievable goal," Smith said. "It was her first goal all year. She just puts it in with the game on the line. Unbelievable."
The goal marked the second time this season the Broncos have rallied to forge a 1-1 tie on the Fighting Irish, with only three other teams able to achieve that feat as well.
"We've been pretty successful in overtimes this past year," junior defender Danielle Slaton said, as the team headed into its fifth overtime this season. "This was unfortunately the first time we have lost. We knew we had to do the work and unfortunately the opportunities we got didn't play out for us."
Two minutes into overtime, one of those opportunities was Heather Aldama's free kick. It was on target for the Broncos, but Liz Wagner made an amazing reach that poked the ball just over the crossbar.
"She made a lot of key saves today," Smith said of Liz Wagner. "You have to give credit where credit's due. I don't think anybody doubted that we'd have chances to score, but just a matter of 'could we get one by their goalkeeper.'"
Three minutes later, the Irish's Randi Scheller collected a ball in the near corner and sent a short cross to Amanda Guertin, who recentered the ball to Meotis Erikson for a low-centered shot that scored the game-winner.
Heading into the lockerrooms at the half, Santa Clara held a 4-3 shot advantage. The Broncos then registered 14 straight shots, keeping the Fighting Irish shotless for the next 67 minutes, until their overtime goal. The final edge went to the Broncos 18-4. It was the most shots Notre Dame has allowed an opponent this season, as Connecticut and Michigan had each only registered 16 during the regular season.
Notre Dame also allowed nine corner kicks to Santa Clara, the most to an opponent this season, topping Portland's seven
Game time temperature was 39 degrees. Two feet of snow was on the ground, but skies were clear through the night.