Nov 18, 2012, 11:20 PM EDT
The “Baby Irish” began their NCAA tournament run last weekend at Notre Dame’s Alumni Stadium, and overcame Wisconsin-Milwaukee in the second half to put themselves into round two in Gainesville, Fla. this weekend.
The Notre Dame freshmen came out swinging on Friday night in a well-played win over the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. This huge win put the women into the third round of the tournament, and was a fitting opponent, especially after last night’s Fighting Irish football win over Wake Forest.
Even though this is the first time the twelve freshmen have experienced the NCAA tournament, they proved their grit once again and rallied after Wake Forest scored the opening goal of the match. The young soccer team retaliated against the Demon Deacons with two goals to win the game. In a totally freshman effort, Cari Roccaro received a beautiful cross from another ND newcomer, Brittany Von Rueden, to tie the game and keep the “Baby Irish” motivated to continue playing hard and taking shots. Freshman Crystal Thomas then made her presence known on the field with a chip shot over the Wake Forest keeper’s head, with all the timing and calm of what appeared to be a seasoned scorer rather than a freshman new to the collegiate postseason play.
Almost more important than the strong freshman offense that helped to win the game was the resilient freshman defense. In particular, freshman keeper Elyse Hight made some great saves to maintain the Irish lead. Even though this team is so young, it has learned and grown so much over this season, and I think it has shown amazing growth in its impressive tournament play so far, especially with so many freshmen stepping up and leading the team to victory.
The “Baby Irish” continued to play hard this afternoon against Florida in the third round and successfully knocked out the Gators in a 2-0 shutout game. The team must continue to maintain its composure and remain confident in its abilities as it continues to move on in the NCAA tournament.
Regardless of being a young team, these women have proven themselves this season and have made the Notre Dame student body very proud. As a student on campus right now, I can attest to the fact that students and fans throughout the Notre Dame community are truly thrilled by the fantastic games that have been played by Fighting Irish athletic teams this weekend, especially the performance of many great underclassmen athletes. Go Irish! Good luck in your next game, ladies!
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