No. 2 Notre Dame Irish Dispatch No. 6 Oregon Ducks 8-1 to Advance to National Club Title Game
DAVIS, Calif. -- Ali Durkin (So., Chicago, Ill.) recorded a hat-trick to earn Player of the Game honors and goaltender Betsy O'Neill (Jr., Danville, Calif.) made six saves to lead No. 2-nationally ranked Notre Dame to a convincing 8-1 win over No. 6 Oregon and a berth in the 2009 National Collegiate Club Championship game against No. 1 and defending national champion California Polytechnic State University.
The berth in the tilte tilt, set for Sunday, March 3 at 12:45 p.m., marks the first time in program history that the Irish will play for the national crown and guarantees Notre Dame its highest finish at the National Collegiate Club Championship.
Further, it marks the first time in the history of the championship that the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the latest National Collegiate Club poll prior to the championship will meet for the title.
The game did not appear primed to be a Notre Dame runaway victory early in the first period as Oregon, which faced Cal Poly in the 2008 championship game, jumped out to a 1-0 lead on a direct shot by Laura von Stockhausen (Jr., San Jose, Calif.) at the 3:13 mark of the first period.
Notre Dame answered nearly three minutes later when Kat Kennifer (Sr., Monterey, Calif.) beat Ducks' goalie Jessica Kragt (Jr., Portland, Ore.) from the perimeter with a rifle shot which sailed into the back of the cage with 28 seconds showing on the game clock.
Durkin put the Irish in front to stay as she netted the eventual game-winner on a man-advantage at the 5:46 mark of the second period to go ahead 2-1. Kristen Harchut (Sr., Maple Glen, Pa.) added the first of six insurance goals for Notre Dame with an inside lobshot with 5:09 remaining in the first period before Durkin struck again with 2:07 left in the half for a 4-1 Irish lead at the break.
The margin continued to expand in the third period thanks to timely scoring and stiffling defense as Kelly Horner (Sr., Holland, Mich.) placed in a five-meter penalty shot at 5:59, Emily Harig (Jr., Arlington Heights, N.J.) deked her way to an open perimeter shot at 5:16 and Christina Romano (Jr., River Forest, Ill.) fired in a perimeter shot at 2:09 to build a 7-1 lead with nine minutes to play.
Entering the final seven-minutes of play in the fourth period, Notre Dame appeared to slow the offensive volley before Durkin completed her hat-trick with an exclusion goal in which she tipped in a loose ball in mid-air directly in front of the cage for the team's eighth and final marker of the evening.
The story of the game was Notre Dame's defense which held hot-shooting Oregon to one goal before playing 24:13 of scoreless water polo down the stretch to reach the national title game.
For the Daughers of Erin, O'Neill starred making six saves, including three in the second half to keep the Ducks from getting back into the game.
Across the tank, Kragt blocked away seven shots for Oregon as the Ducks will meet No. 10 University of Pennsylvania, a 14-4 victim to Cal Poly in the other semifinal game, at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday, May 3 in the third place game.
|No. 2 University of Notre Dame||1||3||3||1||8|
|No. 6 University of Oregon||1||0||0||0||1|
Oregon Goals: Laura von Stockhausen
Notre Dame Goals: Ali Durkin (3); Kristen Harchut; Emily Harig; Kelly Horner; Kat Kennifer; Christina Romano
Saves: Oregon - Jessica Kragt (7) ; Notre Dame - Betsy O'Neill (6)
Ejections: Oregon - 6 ; Notre Dame -3
Sprints: Oregon - None ; Notre Dame - 4 (Christina Romano - 1st, 2nd, 3rd ; Meghan Pearl - 4th)