STORRS, Conn. – Freshman forwards Cari Roccaro (East Islip, N.Y./East Islip) and Crystal Thomas (Elgin, Ill./Wheaton Academy) scored goals 4:28 apart early in the second half to break open a close match and Notre Dame went on to post a 4-0 BIG EAST Conference win at Connecticut before a crowd of 1,485 fans on Sunday afternoon at Morrone Stadium in Storrs, Conn.
Sophomore forward Lauren Bohaboy (Mission Viejo, Calif./Santa Margarita) put the Fighting Irish on top with a free-kick goal against the run of play in the 43rd minute, before Roccaro, Thomas and fellow rookie Anna Maria Gilbertson (Davis, Calif./Davis) scored after the break, while junior midfielder/tri-captain Elizabeth Tucker (Jacksonville, Fla./Bishop Kenny) and sophomore midfielder Karin Simonian (Westbury, N.Y./W.T. Clarke) picked up assists to help Notre Dame (9-3-1, 5-0-0 BIG EAST) stretch its season-best winning streak to six matches.
Sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Voigt (Middleburg, Fla./St. John’s Country Day School) was particularly sharp on Sunday, tying her career high with six saves en route to her third solo shutout of the season (along with two shared whitewashes).
Connecticut (7-5-1, 3-3-0) finished with a 20-15 edge in total shots, although the shot count varied wildly between halves, with the Huskies holding an 11-3 margin in the first half and the Fighting Irish outshooting the hosts, 12-9 in the final 45 minutes. UConn also had a slim 6-5 advantage in shots on goal, and an 8-4 edge in corner kicks, while the foul totals were 17-9 against Notre Dame (which collected the lone yellow card of the day).
“It was definitely a tale of two halves,” Fighting Irish head coach Randy Waldrum said. “For whatever reason, we didn’t come out strong at all today and Connecticut had us under a lot of pressure for most of the first half, but Sarah (Voigt) played really well for us and kept us going until we could get that first goal. Then, we made some adjustments at halftime and changed our shape a bit, and our offense began to click in the second half. It’s another good sign for this team, the way we came back from a poor start, kept our poise and then took advantage of our opportunities to get a key conference road win.”
After dodging bullets for most of the first half (with Voigt making four saves and the Huskies’ Andrea Plucenik hitting the right post midway through the period), Notre Dame stunned Connecticut with the opening score of the day after freshman forward Mary Schwappach (Denver, Colo./Mullen) was fouled in the center channel, 30 yards from goal. Bohaboy then teed up the free kick, curling it over the Huskies’ wall and under the bar near the upper left corner as UConn goalkeeper Leigh-Ann Jaggon made a leaping attempt to corral the try (42:51).
With the somewhat unexpected lead, the Fighting Irish set about cementing its advantage, and got the critical second score a little more than 10 minutes into the second half. Freshman defender Brittany Von Rueden (Mequon, Wis./Divine Savior Holy Angels) took a free kick at the midfield stripe on the left side and sent a dangerous service into the area, where the Connecticut defense failed to quickly clear the ball. Roccaro took advantage of the chaos in the box and alertly poked a shot past Jaggon from six yards out to double the Notre Dame lead (56:20).
As their confidence continued to build, the Fighting Irish stayed on the attack with some crisp passing in the offensive third. Tucker found space on the right flank and delivered a well-weighted cross towards the near post, where Thomas was making an angled run. The rookie looked to volley the pass and mis-hit the cross somewhat, but the looping shot still found vacant real estate, as Jaggon had come off her line and the ball dropped behind her and inside the right post for Thomas’ team-leading sixth goal of the year (60:28).
Notre Dame capped its second-half surge in the 84th minute, as Simonian got free on the left side and charged towards the edge of the box before pulling up near the by-line and cutting a pass through the top of the six. Gilbertson positioned herself perfectly on the doorstep and simply re-directed the cross into the net (83:30).
The Fighting Irish will be back at Alumni Stadium next weekend for their final two home matches of the regular season, starting at 7:30 p.m. (ET) Friday against Seton Hall — prior to the contest, Notre Dame will honor its departing senior players and managers with a brief ceremony. The Fighting Irish then will host their annual Kicks Against Cancer match at 1 p.m. (ET) Sunday when Rutgers comes calling — Notre Dame players will wear special uniforms that will be auctioned off to benefit local and national cancer charities, and several other related events will be held during the afternoon.
Tickets for all regular-season Fighting Irish soccer matches can be purchased on-line at UND.com/tickets, by calling (574) 631-7356, or by visiting the Alumni Stadium ticket windows on the day of the match.
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— ND —
POST-MATCH NOTES: Notre Dame posts its largest margin of victory over Connecticut in Storrs, a place that has traditionally been a house of horrors for the Fighting Irish (now 5-2-4 all-time, 3-2-2 in their last seven visits) … Notre Dame is 22-5-4 all-time against Connecticut … the four goals were the most Notre Dame has scored at Morrone Stadium since a 9-1 victory over Hartford on Aug. 29, 2003 … the margin of victory tied for the largest by the Fighting Irish against a BIG EAST opponent at Morrone Stadium, matching a 5-1 victory over Syracuse on Nov. 6, 1998, in the BIG EAST Championship semifinals … the four goals are the most by Notre Dame against a BIG EAST foe in Storrs since Nov. 5, 2006, when the Fighting Irish defeated Rutgers, 4-2 in the BIG EAST Championship title match … prior to this season, Voigt did not have a solo shutout to her credit, but she has three clean sheets in her three most recent outings this year … Voigt’s previous career high for saves had also been six against Duke on Aug. 28, 2011, in Chapel Hill, N.C. … Roccaro has four goals in six matches this season, after getting a late start to her college career while competing with the victorious United States Under-20 National Team at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in Japan during the first month of the season.