Oct. 9, 2016
SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Senior midfielder Alexis Shaffer (Cary, N.C.) converted a second half penalty kick for the only score of the game as No. 8 Virginia (10-2-2, 3-1-2 ACC) went on the road and defeated No. 20 Notre Dame (9-2-3, 4-1-1 ACC) by a score of 1-0 on Sunday.
It marked the first goal surrendered at home by the Irish and led to the first win at Notre Dame by an opponent this season. The Irish had been 7-0-0 at home prior to the Virginia victory on Sunday.
It marks the 10th shutout of the season for the Cavaliers, all of them victories.
“I’m really proud of this squad as Notre Dame is an excellent team and it’s a hard place to get a result,” said Virginia head coach Steve Swanson. “Even though we have played more consistently in the attacking end, we were not able to get good looks – but that was due to how well Notre Dame was organized defensively. We competed hard and showed more maturity as a team on both sides of the ball, and I think that really was the difference today.”
The two squads limited chances in the first half as the defense answered each challenge put forth by the opposing offense. Notre Dame keeper Kaela Little collected a pair of saves in the first half to keep the Cavaliers off the board, while none of the Irish shots were on frame.
Virginia held a 4-to-2 advantage in shots at the half, but neither time had anything to show for it on the scoreboard.
The two squads came out prodding the defenses early in the second half, continuing to look for a weakness that could be exploited for a score.
The Cavaliers got three great chances in a two-minute span with a free kick off the post and a header high in the 57th minute. Virginia then got a third shot on goal with a high header from McNabb in the 58th minute, but none of the shots found the net to put the Cavaliers on the board.
Virginia broke through in the 60th minute as Taylor Ziemer (Santa Rosa, Calif.) was taken down in the box setting up a penalty kick for the Cavaliers. Shaffer converted the kick, scoring the first goal on the Irish at home this season and giving Virginia the one-goal lead.
Notre Dame got a chance in the 78th minute, putting a header on frame off a free kick from just outside the far side of the box. Stearns answered the challenge with the diving save to maintain the lead for the Cavaliers as again Virginia turned away an Irish attack. It was one of two big saves down the stretch by the Cavalier keeper.
The Cavaliers turned away a flurry of shots down the stretch by the Irish as the home team turned up the pressure in pursuit of an equalizing goal. That goal never came as Virginia’s back line and Stearns repelled the attacks and picked up the victory.