Irish fall short of their goal – Notre Dame unable to take advantage
NAPERVILLE – The Notre Dame High School girls soccer team had a number of quality chances Friday in its Class A state quarterfinal against Oak Park Fenwick.
The Irish hit the crossbar, sent numerous shots over it and missed a penalty kick. But ND couldn’t convert and Fenwick beat the Irish 1- 0 to advance to the semifinals at 11 a.m. today at North Central College.
“We should’ve won, we could’ve won,” ND forward Natalie Kahn said. “We’re definitely the better side.”
Kelly Hannon’s goal at 41:27 gave ND (22-4-1) its third consecutive 1-0 state-finals defeat. Last year the Irish lost 1-0 in the semifinals and the third-place match. It’s also the second time in three years they’ve exited the tournament in the quarterfinals.
And on Friday, they became the third favorite to be upset. Chatham Glenwood had a 1-0 victory over two-time defending state champions Arlington Heights St. Viator, and West Chicago Wheaton Academy’s beat Normal U-High 5-4.
“This is the year we felt we could beat all of those teams,” ND coach Matt Blackford said. “And now we don’t get a chance to see.”
A back injury to junior Kerry Blakesly delayed the last 3:56 of the match for 20 minutes. She was taken to a Naperville hospital, and X-rays were negative.
After the delay, ND was able to get three opportunities, including a free kick from 20 yards out, but nothing on goal.
“I think it made us push more,” ND senior defender Meg Ryon said of Blakesly’s injury.
In the first half, Kahn drew a penalty kick when she was fouled from behind in the area by Hannon.
Senior defender Jamie Blakesly sent the ensuing PK over the crossbar in the 19th minute.
“Nobody would take it,” Blackford said. “She was the only one that walked toward the ball, so let her take it. We never tell kids, ‘You’re going to take our PKs.’ We let the person who thinks they can take it, take it.
“That kind of summed up how we felt about our confidence. Nobody wants to step up and take a PK. You would hope there’s two or three kids fighting over the ball. We just didn’t have that attitude.”
Notre Dame was able to get in Fenwick’s defense a few more times in the first half, but one of two things happened. Either ND couldn’t get enough of a foot on the ball or Fenwick senior goalkeeper Emily Smith grabbed the ball before ND could touch it.
“I never really feel like I’m under constant attack,” Smith said. “I have complete confidence in my defenders. That’s what they’re there to do.”
The 6-foot Smith needed to stop only four shots for the shutout.
“She’s huge,” Ryon said. “She comes off her line and gobbles up all the balls in the air.”
After Hannon’s goal, ND started get scoring chances more frequently. Junior Lauren Salmon had a header sail wide left in the 45th minute, and junior Ashley Schoeplein hit the crossbar from 20 yards out with 14:50 left.
“They did a good job of putting numbers behind the ball and packing it in,” Blackford said. “They ran with one frontrunner and defended with 10. They respected our speed and dropped in behind and they respected our ability to get in deep, and they weren’t going to allow that to happen.
“They got a pretty good scouting report from somebody.”
Moments after Schoeplein rung the crossbar, senior all-state midfielder Rachel Merriman sent a cross to Kahn, who put it over the crossbar.
“We came out flat right from the start,” Ryon said. “When you come out flat at a state game, this is what happens. There’s no tommorrow.”
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