Notre Dame women's soccer season ends in NCAA Elite Eight with loss to North Carolina
Notre Dame women's soccer coach Nate Norman felt this could have been the team to get Irish back to the College Cup for the first time since 2010. Instead.
It fell one win short.
One of four No. 1 seeds in this year's NCAA Tournament, Notre Dame saw its season end in the Elite Eight with a 2-0 loss to No. 2 North Carolina in South Bend Saturday night at Alumni Stadium.
"Tough one obviously," Norman said via phone call following the game. "We didn't get into our groove until the last 20 minutes. We could have found the wide areas a lot more. North Carolina did a great job breaking up our rhythm. They took a couple chances and got it done."
The Tar Heels got goals from Ally Sentnor in the 22nd minute and Talia Dellaperuta in the 47th to book their first trip to College Cup since 2020. North Carolina will play either No. 1 overall seed, and defending champions, Florida State or No. 4 Arkansas in the semifinal. Alabama, another No. 1 seed has already booked its spot in the Final Fourt and will play the winner of No. 1 UCLA and No. 3 Virginia. Both those games of those games will be played Sunday.
Notre Dame shared the Atlantic Coast Conference regular season title with the Tar Heels and Seminoles, but didn't play North Carolina during the regular season. It hadn't conceded a goal all tournament before the Tar Heels took their early lead.
It was also the first time Notre Dame was shutout since Sept. 15 against Clemson, 2-0.
"There probably was some frustration there," Norman said of the lack of scoring opportunities. "But they (Notre Dame) kept pushing. Even the last three-four minutes we still were able to create some chances. They are strong, resilient kids."
Notre Dame (17-3-3) will graduate 13 players for this year's roster including for Penn Kingsmen Mackenzie Wood, and three of its top scorers in Olivia Wingate (14 goals), Maddie Mercado (10) and Kiki Van Zanten (10).
Top goal-scorer Korbin Albert, a sophomore who netted 16 this season, will return next fall in an attempt to get Notre Dame back to the College Cup.
"I think this group put Notre Dame back on the map," Norman said. "Unfortunately we didn't prove we were the best. But we put ourselves in that top echelon and that's where Notre Dame needs to be."