Laura Weinberg netted a golden goal with under two minutes left in the second overtime at ninth-ranked Notre Dame on Sunday to give the Blue Devil women’s soccer team a much-needed 2-1 road victory at Alumni Stadium in Notre Dame, Ind.NOTRE DAME, Ind. – Duke University senior
Duke closed a four-match road swing with a victory to move the Blue Devils to a 6-6-4, 3-4-3 ACC mark with only three regular season league matches remaining.
“That game aged everybody,” Duke head coach Robbie Church said. “Playing our fourth straight road game, playing our second straight overtime game, I’m very proud of our team. We needed these three points badly.”
Blue Devil freshman Toni Payne got tangled up with Notre Dame defender Elizabeth Tucker in the 20th minute about 30 yards from goal. Payne, who is a product of Birmingham, Ala., got past Tucker as she fell down on the pitch and found room on the right side of the box. The 5-3 midfielder cut back and curled a 12-yard left-footed shot inside the far left post past a diving Notre Dame goalkeeper to give Duke a 1-0 advantage.
“That was a great goal and an important goal,” Church said. “It’s always, always important to get that first goal and get a lead.”
Duke nearly went ahead by two goals in the 25th minute as Weinberg found a seam at the top of the area and cracked a rising shot that clanged hard off the crossbar before Irish goalkeeper Kaela Little and the Notre Dame defense arrived to clear away the rebound.
Notre Dame was able to even the match at the end of the first half as Rilka Noel connected on her first collegiate goal at the 43:36 mark from four yards out.
At the end of the first half, Duke held a 7-6 advantage in shots.
“Like every good team, if you make a mistake they’re going to punish you, and they did,” Church said. “At halftime some heads were down and fatigue was setting in, but we talked about how this goal is not going to end our season.”
The Blue Devils made a brief challenge early in the second half, as Weinberg looked to have room behind the Fighting Irish defense, but Notre Dame defender Katie Naughton cut down the Blue Devil striker's angle, leading to a 12-yard shot that was wide left.
Moments later, Duke earned its lone corner kick of the day, with senior defender Natasha Anasi going up on the right side to put a header on target, but Little made the grab.
The Blue Devils seemed to get tired as they played their fourth straight road contest.
Duke redshirt junior goalkeeper Meghan Thomas was able to keep the score knotted, 1-1, with less than three minutes remaining in regulation. Notre Dame freshman Morgan Andrews fired a shot at Thomas that handcuffed the 6-2 netminder. As the ball slipped through her gloves and went towards the goal line, Thomas was able to recover the ball prior to heading over the goal line.
At the end of regulation, Notre Dame held a 15-11 lead in shots.
The Irish held a 3-1 shot advantage in the first overtime with senior midfielder Kaitlyn Kerr holding the lone attempt by the Blue Devils.
Sunday's match ended in a flash, as Notre Dame was maintaining possession in its defensive third with less than two minutes to go in the second overtime. The ball was played back to Little, who was surveying the best avenue to begin the counterattack. However, Weinberg came racing in from the center of the attacking third and cut off Little's attempted clearance to take possession. She then rounded the Fighting Irish keeper before slotting home the winning score into the vacated net from 10 yards out on the left side of the area at the 108:17 mark.
“We were a little fortunate, but we’ll take that right now,” Church said. “We grinded and we finally got something to go our way.”
Notre Dame (9-5-1, 5-4-1 ACC) finished with a 20-14 edge in total shots. Weinberg, who is out of Boca Raton, Fla., led the Blue Devils with six attempts, including three on goal. Payne and junior Kelly Cobb each added two shots. The game-winning goal by Weinberg is her 10th career game-winner, which is tied for fifth on the Duke career charts.
Thomas, who is out of Castle Rock, Colo., totaled eight saves on the afternoon, while Little added five stops for the Irish in goal. The loss at home for Notre Dame was the first home overtime setback for the Fighting Irish since Sept. 16, 2007.
Duke will head home for the first time since Sept. 29 as the Blue Devils will host N.C. State on Thursday, Oct. 24 at 7:00 p.m.