After being held scoreless for nearly an hour, the Notre Dame College women’s soccer team went from zero to 100. Real quick.
The Falcons (4-0) earned their fourth win of the season, in the same amount of games, against Fairmont State (2-2-1) on Thursday evening with a 3-0 victory. NDC scored each of their goals within 28 minutes of each other starting with a shot from Janelle Bernal in the 60th minute.
Bernal took a pass from Alexis Manoa and outpaced a defender to put her team up 1-0. This is the second time in three games that Bernal beat a defender after being set up by Manoa.
“If you put players like that with the ball in space good things can happen,” said head coach Mike Shiels.
The assist was Manoa’s fourth of the season. Her one-goal, three-assist performance in the first week of competition earned her MEC Offensive Player of the Week honors. The senior forward recognizes her place on the team.
“My role is dishing the ball,” Manoa said. “Getting the ball and controlling it to get other players in. It’s a combination of a vision and touch. Growing up I played at a really good high school and with a good club and we focused on vision and being patient.”
Bernal and Manoa were the first duo to get things rolling, but were shortly followed with goals from senior Jackie Corrigan and freshman Saige Ackerman in the 82nd and 88th minutes. Corrigan and Ackerman were assisted by Katarina Doncevic and Norah Barnes, respectively.
Coach Shiels provided some insight after the game on why the scoring played out how it did while Manoa spoke about why it’s so crucial to go up by multiple goals.
“I think some of it is fresh legs and some of it is building momentum,” Shiels said. “It takes a while sometimes. A lot of teams in the conference come here ready to play and give us their best effort. Sometimes it takes time and relentless pressure to break through the wall.”
“It’s important to put a team away and lower their confident while boosting our own, Manoa said. “Keeping the shutout and adding goals after that first score was big for us today.”
The shutout was the first of the season for the Falcons and the first in the career of freshman goalkeeper Kyra McDowell.
McDowell along with fellow freshman Andrea Spinelli have played every minute so far this season, and the two rookies are joined by three upperclassman in playing those 362 minutes. Sarah Grossman, the team’s last line of defense on many occasions, Jillian Doss, often charged with clearing the ball, and Riley Doyle, who plays all 120 yards of the pitch, anchor the team’s defense that allowed just two shots on goal.
“I think a big thing with our back four is that they’ve played next to each other and play with each other,” Shiels said “From the attacking side of things it can be more individualistic, but towards the back we want to build that ability to play as a close team.”
The head coach, in his 14th year, also spoke on the solid play of the defense and its ability to help McDowell in the net.
“It takes a little pressure off [McDowell],” Shiels said. “The defense can organize themselves a little bit better in front of her and she can just worry about doing her job, which she’s done really well. She got her first shutout today and we’re excited for her.”
Notre Dame will host Concord on Sunday, September 17. The game on Mueller Field is scheduled to start at 4 p.m.