Sep 16, 2011, 7:51 PM EDT
The women’s soccer team has dominated the BIG EAST Conference throughout its 17 seasons in the league, which made Friday afternoon’s 1-0 home loss to Louisville that much more stunning.
The Cardinals scored in the 57th minute and used a conservative defensive approach to pull off the upset in what was the conference-opener for both squads.
As the clock ticked down, the crowd at Alumni Stadium tried to will the Irish to victory, but to no avail.
The Cardinals’ win was their first win over the Irish since Sept. 24, 1989. Since Louisville joined the BIG EAST, the Irish were a perfect 6-0 against the foe from the Bluegrass State, including a 5-0 road win in 2010 over a ranked Louisville squad.
Notre Dame now takes a two-game losing streak into Sunday’s match at Cincinnati after seeing its 62-game unbeaten streak in regular-season BIG EAST play go to the wayside.
After taking a conservative approach on offense in the first half, the Cardinals opened the second half on the attack and they reaped the reward when Christine Exeter broke through the Irish defense near the sideline and sent a cross into the goal box that bounced past two Irish defenders. The pass found Erin Yenny, who drilled it past a diving Maddie Fox for the deciding goal. The goal was Yenny’s first collegiate goal in her seventh start.
Louisville’s youth shined throughout the game, led by Exeter, last season’s BIG EAST Rookie of the Year. Many of the Cardinals’ scoring chances came through Exeter’s aggressive play, which was evident as early as the 13th minute of the game when she split two defenders with her speed before misfiring a shot on goal.
Louisville seemed to play for the tie in the first half, packing its defenders in the middle of the field. As a result, the Irish were forced to use the sidelines to send crosses.
Notre Dame’s best first-half opportunity came in the first minute when Melissa Henderson worked her way open in the goal box only to see Louisville goalkeeper Chloe Kiefer deflect her shot. That proved to be Henderson’s only shot on goal for the game, a rarity for the team’s leading scorer and Hermann Trophy candidate.
Notre Dame had hoped to leave its goal scoring woes on the West Coast, but continued to struggle cashing in on chances throughout the game. The Irish controlled the ball for most of the game and took 20 shots (compared to Louisville’s 10) and only managed to land six shots on goal.
Notre Dame’s best look in the second half came off a corner kick in the 61st minute. Jessica Schuveiller reeled in Henderson’s corner kick and fired a shot. However, a Louisville defender stood in the shot’s way to record a key save.
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