CORAL GABLES, Fla. – Behind a second-half brace from junior forward Ashley Flinn, the Miami Hurricanes upset third-ranked Notre Dame 2-0 at Cobb Stadium Sunday afternoon.
Flinn, who recorded her fourth multi-goal game of the season in the victory, opened the scoring in the 52nd minute on a nice cutback strike from the top of the 18-yard box. The Romeo, Mich., native would seal the victory for Miami (7-4-0, 2-4-0 ACC) with her 84th-minute tally, sending Notre Dame (9-2-1, 5-1-1) to its first conference loss of the season in the team’s annual “Kick for the Cure” game.
“This win means a lot to us,” Flinn said. “We’re wearing pink jerseys, and they mean a lot more to us this year. We have two players on our team with moms fighting [cancer], so we knew going into this game it was something special for us.”
Flinn, who recorded her fourth game-winning goal of the season in the victory, increased her team-leading total to eight tallies on the season.
While the striker’s goals proved the difference on the scoreboard, the Hurricanes backline held one of the nation’s best sides scoreless for 90 minutes. Miami’s defensive front, comprised of freshmen Gracie Lachowecki and Gianna Dal Pozzo, junior Maddie Simms and senior Blake Stockton, was up to the task against a talented Irish offense.
“[Our defense] was so much better today,” head coach Mary-Frances Monroe said. “With Gracie and Gianna as two starting freshmen, we put a lot of responsibilities on them – especially for this game. They listened to the fine details and the small things we needed them to do, and were successful. Maddie and Blake were on the same page today. They played so well.”
Senior Tara Schwitter played an instrumental role on the team’s first goal, sending Flinn forward on a long pass up the near sideline. Flinn cut the ball back through the Irish defense, and delivered a fine strike from distance past an outstretched Kaela Little in net.
“It was just me and the goalie there, and sometimes that’s the most dangerous situation you can have because you can get too complacent,” Flinn said.
With the teams trading chances in the middle stages of the second half, the combination of Schwitter and Flinn combined to seal the victory with six minutes remaining. On a dazzling personal run, Schwitter looked to have drawn a penalty kick when she was tackled in the box. Flinn played through the non-call, however, gaining possession of the ball and finishing with her left foot from 15 yards out to make it 2-0.
“After the goal, Tara told me she was laying on the ground and said ‘Dang, I missed my chance!’ and then she looked up and it was in the back of the net,” Flinn said with a smile. “Tara usually draws fouls, so we are always looking for a penalty kick when she’s inside the box. To go up 2-0 there was pretty big.”
Monroe was impressed with the overall effort of her team, which included a shutout from junior keeper Emily Lillard. The Overland Park, Kan., native made six saves in the clean sheet.
“I think we needed to do all the right things at the same time and in the same game,” Monroe said. “The spurts of us doing defensively the right things and attacking the right way hadn’t come together until this game.”
The Hurricanes will look to carry the momentum into Thursday’s match against another ACC newcomer, Pittsburgh. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. from Cobb Stadium.
“I think the confidence has skyrocketed for each and every one of them,” Monroe said. “They ultimately know it takes each and every one of them to find success. We had a good rotation, and everyone is just pumped to go into the next game.”