Notre Dame women’s football falls in the ACC quarter-finals against Clemson // The Observer
Notre Dame women’s football was eliminated from the ACC tournament on Sunday evening and fell 3-2 to Clemson in the Alumni Stadium.
Needless to say, the Irish performance was far from their best this year. From start to finish, the Irish looked overwhelmed and tired. Clemson scored first and early, taking the lead in the twelfth minute when striker Caroline Conti stormed over the wing and pushed the ball away at a tight angle near the post. A little more than ten minutes later, the Tigers struck again, this time with midfielder Megan Bornkamp, ââwho shot a half volley over the goal into the net.
A Notre Dame team apparently punctured only reacted shortly before halftime when a long through pass from junior midfielder Maddie Mercado found the run of newcomer midfielder Korbin Albert, who dodged Clemson goalkeeper Hensley Hancuff and the Ball into the void tapped net. This chance from Albert would be Notre Dame’s first and only shot on goal at half time.
The lack of opportunity was set to continue into the second half when the Tigers extended their lead again, this time through Makenna Morris. After an expropriation in the Irish penalty area, Clemson was able to score a prime chance and while good team defense prevented an immediate shot, the ball eventually made its way to Morris, who tossed the ball into the top corner without a mistake.
The Irish would draw again within one when midfielder Sammi Fisher was knocked down in the penalty area in the 80th minute and then sent the subsequent penalty home. Ultimately, the Fisher goal and the collection of half-chances that would result for the home side as they pulled out all the stops to equalize would not be enough. A last-minute free kick right in the penalty area after Hancuff was whistled by the referee for wasting time offered the best chance of the finals, but the tiger wall held up.
In the end, as head coach Nate Norman actually suspected after the game, the Irish just wasn’t performing well enough on crucial aspects of the game:
“We felt like we weren’t getting a lot of second balls and they had a lot more possession than we did, but I think a little rest will help us,” said Norman. “We learn a little bit in each game and will try to find ways to meet some of the challenges we see in the conference.”
Norman brought up the issue of fatigue when the team was playing their third game in a week and how it affected his team’s game:
âI think we were a little tired today. It was a long road trip with these three games [referencing the Irishâs swing away to Virginia, Duke, and North Carolina over the last two weeks]and we played a bit tired and I think we need to relax, âhe said. âWe have some bumps and bruises; We need to sort these out to prepare. We love playing in the ACC, but it’s definitely a challenge and a gauntlet that can get a little tired at times, and I think we showed that today. We fought, we gave each other a chance, but it was definitely not our best performance. “
Norman’s assessment is blunt, but difficult to deny. Two of Clemson’s three goals are unlikely to fall unless there were individual defensive mistakes that were almost non-existent for the Irish five-man chain before today. When Norman brought up the question of the second balls, the midfield seemed a bit behind the game, both when Notre Dame was on forefoot and when Clemson began his attacks. The attack patterns looked repetitive and seemed to be recognized early by the Tiger Defense. This wasn’t the Irish team to step into the fall break with an eight-game winning streak. Hopefully, with a clear schedule and a much-needed break for Notre Dame, we’ll see this dominant version of the Irish in the first round of the tournament by the end of this month.