The numbers were not in the women’s soccer team’s favor Wednesday night. Notre Dame came into the game at the Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium ranked No. 8 in the country, while the Bulldogs are tied for seventh place in the Ancient Eight. And although the Fighting Irish lost to the University of Connecticut 3-1 Saturday, they have not lost back-to-back games since 1992.
Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the numbers did not lie.
In only their second meeting with the Elis ever, the Fighting Irish defeated Yale 2-0. Notre Dame improved its record to 12-2-1 while the Bulldogs fell to 4-7-1 (0-3-1 Ivy).
Sophomore Amanda Guertin scored twice for the Fighting Irish. Guertin, the team’s leading scorer, has netted a goal in each of Notre Dame’s last four games.
“They man-marked pretty well, but a couple of times we found the seams and were able to score,” Guertin said.
The highlight for the Bulldogs was the play of goalkeeper Lindsay Sabel ’03, who tallied a career-high 16 saves. Sabel made several key stops, including a particularly impressive block with four minutes left in the game. Notre Dame forward Molly Tate hit the crossbar, collected her rebound and shot the ball at point-blank range. Sabel, however, thwarted the scoring opportunity with a diving catch.
“We had a hard time breaking their block between backs and midfielders,” Notre Dame head coach Randy Waldrum said. “Every time we did [break through, Sabel] came up with the big save.”
Guertin netted her first goal at 24:26 off a pass from teammate Melissa Tancredi. After collecting the ball at the top right corner of the box, Guertin turned and shot the ball past Sabel and into the lower left corner of the goal. Guertin’s second goal was virtually identical, coming at 55:48 and assisted by Lindsey Jones.
The Bulldogs came out strong, but about 10 minutes into the first half, Notre Dame began to control the tempo. Yale often had trouble clearing the ball past the midfield.
“When you’re playing against teams that are more athletic than you and you’re chasing them, you’re going to get tired,” head coach Rudy Meredith said.
The Fighting Irish outshot the Bulldogs 26-4. Most of the Elis’ chances, however, came from catching Notre Dame’s defense off guard.
“We can keep possession, but we’ve been susceptible to the counterattack,” Waldrum said. “Their better opportunities came off the counterattack.”
The Fighting Irish played with three center midfielders in an inverted-pyramid formation, pushing their defenders up to put more pressure on the ball.
“Every single time there was a shot, there were two or three people around me,” Sabel said.
Wednesday’s contest was Sabel’s second double-digit save game this season. With a 0.91 goals against average through 11 games, Sabel is on her way to posting one of the top-five goals against averages in team history.
“She recognized when [Sarah Peterson ’02] got hurt that she would now have a chance to play, and she stepped up,” Meredith said.
The Bulldogs now head into a grueling weekend, traveling to Columbia (9-4, 1-3 Ivy) Saturday and facing Providence College (6-7-2) at home Sunday. The Providence contest is a rescheduled game from the weekend after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“I’m not comfortable with [playing two games in a row], but if we’re going to do two games, it might as well be on the weekend,” Meredith said.