April 5, 2014

Colgan Stuffs "Meatballs" as Virginia Upsets No. 7 Notre Dame

by Matthew DeFranks | LaxMagazine.com | Twitter

In-Game Blog Replay


SOUTH BEND, Ind. — No. 7 Notre Dame just kept throwing meatballs at the net.

And Virginia goalkeeper Liz Colgan was there time and time again to gobble them up. Colgan finished with 16 saves in leading Virginia to a 15-8 victory over Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon.

“You can’t throw meatballs up against this goalkeeper,” Irish coach Christine Halfpenny said. “She got her foot on everything it seemed like.”

Colgan has now recorded four games with 10 or more saves, including a 22-save performance on March 8 in a 14-10 loss to top-ranked North Carolina. Colgan had 11 saves in the first half alone Saturday.

“She’s been doing this,” Halfpenny said. “You look back at what she does, she has had some crazy days in goal keeping Virginia in the game.”

The eight goals allowed tied a career-high for Colgan.

Colgan keyed a first-half defensive clinic for Virginia (7-6, 1-3 ACC) that held Notre Dame (8-5, 1-4) to one goal on 16 shots. The Cavaliers led 4-1.

“A 4-1 halftime score isn’t what anyone expected,” Cavaliers coach Julie Myers said. “It’s really frustrating to be the team that only has one goal. She did a great job of getting under their skin.”

The Irish shot just 1-for-16 in the first half but 7-for-15 in the second.

“One-for-16, that’s going to be a tough way to win any kind of game,” Halfpenny said.

Virginia broke the game open with a 6-1 run in the second half. After Irish senior midfielder Margaret Smith brought Notre Dame within two 2:03 into the half, the Cavaliers responded with back-to-back goals from sophomore attacker Kelly Boyd.

Cavaliers junior midfielder Courtney Swan was key during the run, with Virginia hauling in the first eight draws of the second half.

“Courtney puts a lot of time in and with her quickness and her reach, she’s got great hands and she did a nice job,” Myers said. “Even when the ball didn’t go in her stick, I feel like she found it on the ground. She was in it. She knew what to do today and she did a great job.”

Swan finished the game with seven draw controls and helped Virginia claim 13 of 17 second-half draws. Swan had as many draw controls as the entire Irish squad.

“Realistically, it came down to a couple of unlucky bounces and the fact that when we did win it, we weren’t able to grab it out of the air,” Halfpenny said. “Credit goes to Courtney Swan for that.”

Swan also scored three goals and caused three turnovers. Boyd and senior defender Maddy Keeshan chipped in three goals.

While a second-half run propelled Virginia, Notre Dame could not string together goals. The Irish scored consecutive goals just twice Saturday, both times to cut the lead to five.

“I was really excited to see the final stats where Notre Dame only scored two goals in a row twice down the stretch,” Myers said. “Whenever you can stop a pretty powerful team like that, you’re doing a lot of good things.”

Sophomore attacker Rachel Sexton and freshman attacker Cortney Fortunato each scored two goals for the Irish. Four other players scored for Notre Dame.

“I think we struggled today with being organized and fluid for 60 minutes,” Halfpenny said. “I think, at times, there was some brilliant looking offense but we want to make that more consistent.”

The win moves Virginia to 2-5 against ranked teams this season. The Cavaliers have lost five games by four goals or less but have now won three games in a row.

“It was a must-win for us and I feel like we played like our backs were against the wall and we came out fighting and did a great job,” Myers said.

Saturday’s game was the start of one of the toughest stretches in the nation for Virginia. The Cavaliers play No. 4 Boston College next Thursday before taking on No. 2 Maryland on April 13.

Myers said the win over the Irish gives Virginia some momentum.

“It’s a lot of confidence in a lot of really important categories,” Myers said. “We need to enjoy this for the moment and then get ready for a big week.”

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