How Sweet it is: Notre Dame women advance in NCAA tournament with shutout of Santa Clara

Justin Frommer
South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — There was never any panic or frustration from the Notre Dame women's soccer team when each of its 26 first half shots failed to find the back of the net of Friday night's NCAA Tournament second round game against No. 8 Santa Clara.

The Irish knew they would eventually be rewarded for their offensive intensity.

"I knew we were going to get goals," sophomore forward Korbin Albert said. "It was just a matter of time."

And when that breakthrough finally came, the goals couldn't be stopped.

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Albert put the Irish ahead in the 44th minute on a penalty kick and No. 1 Notre Dame added three more in the second half to beat the Broncos 4-0 and at Alumni Stadium in South Bend.

The Irish (16-2-3) will host No. 5 TCU, who upset No. 4 Michigan State earlier in the day, in Sunday's Sweet 16 game at 6:30 p.m.

Albert scored a second goal in the 47th minute. Laney Matriano put the Irish up three a minutes later and Kiki Van Zanten scored the fourth Notre Dame goal in the 61st minute.

"We played fantastic," Notre Dame head coach Nate Norman said. "It was potentially our best game of the season, which was good to see this late in the year. We created a lot of chances. Really proud of the performance."

Notre Dame’s Korbin Albert (2) and Santa Clara’s Keren Goor (8) attempt to control the ball in the second round of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, at Alumni Stadium.

The Irish dominated both sides of the pitch, outshooting the Broncos 41-5 — 26-0 in the first half.

"I think we just came out and did what we normally do," Albert said. "We aren't scared of any championship team. We made sure we went out there, did what we needed to do, score the goals we needed and got the result."

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The Broncos, 2020's national champions and a national semifinalist a year ago, fit the profile of a perennial championship program Notre Dame is trying to be. However, Santa Clara struggled to find scoring chances in Friday's frigid temperatures with its roster full of California natives.

Izzy D'Aquila, Santa Clara's leading scorer, only got off four shots.

"Any time you can hold a team like that to that many shots is really crucial," Norman said. "They have one of the best forwards in the country and to keep her ordinary, that is what you try to do and I thought we did a great job."

Notre Dame’s Ashley Zugay (21) kicks the ball away from Santa Clara’s Lucy Mitchell (27) in the second round of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship Friday, Nov. 18, 2022, at Alumni Stadium.

Notre Dame's top scoring threat in Albert, meanwhile, was making plays all over the pitch. The sophomore finished with 14 shots, six of which were on goal, and added an assist to her two-goal night.

Now, Albert and the Irish brace for a Horned Frogs team that hasn't given up more than a goal since Oct. 20.