Notre Dame girls blank De Soto in Class 1 sectional

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The Bulldogs improved to 17-2-1 with Tuesday's playoff victory.

Notre Dame's girls soccer team put together a dominating effort Tuesday night, smothering De Soto's high-powered offense in a 2-0 Class 1 sectional win at home.

The Dragons had scored 111 goals in 24 games heading into Tuesday's sectional. Notre Dame goalie Shelley Frank was forced to make just two saves and the Dragons had just one dangerous scoring chance throughout the contest.

"They kind of had us down on our end while we were getting settled in, but they didn't get any good looks at it," Notre Dame coach Jeff Worley said. "Really, after the first five or 10 minutes, we were pressuring them all over the field. We were in good position and made it difficult for them to get anything going."

It did not take much time at all for the Bulldogs' offense to get something going. Following a couple of off-target shots in the early going, senior Meridith Medlin put the Bulldogs in front at the 12-minute mark. Medlin intercepted a weak goal kick from De Soto goalie Breanna Lewis and boomed a shot from about 20 yards out into the back of the net.

Notre Dame players celebrated their first goal against De Soto during their Class 1 sectional victory Tuesday at Notre Dame Regional High School. Meridith Medlin (7) scored the goal for the Bulldogs, who went on to a 2-0 victory. (Kit Doyle)

Medlin scored both goals for the Bulldogs (17-2-1) in their district championship win over St. Vincent.

"We felt like as we were getting more momentum," Worley said. "We had them down on their end and we were really trying to push the play from there. We knew they had a little difficulty getting the ball out on their goal kicks, and she was able to pick one off.

"It was a quality goal. A quality hit."

Notre Dame was relentless in the opening half. The Bulldogs got a foot on nearly every pass and were constantly on the offensive. Taylor Sanders was open on the wing for the Bulldogs throughout the game, which kept the Dragons on their heels.

Senior forwards Medlin and Destiny Dirnberger patrolled the middle and were on the receiving end of several quality crosses from the wing. De Soto simply did not have an answer for Notre Dame's passing game.

"We really came out hard tonight," junior Paige Schumer said. "Everyone came out with a lot of intensity and was going to every ball."

That intensity came in handy on Notre Dame's second ball. Amanda Pleimann got a head on a Notre Dame corner kick, and after her shot was blocked, sophomore Kaitlin Wibbenmeyer got the rebound and put it in for a 2-0 lead.

It was the first varsity goal of the season for Wibbenmeyer, who played predominantly on the junior varsity.

"There's not a lot of teams that can come into a sectional game with that kind of depth all the way down to the JV squad that who you have confidence will do something special for you," Worley said.

De Soto senior forward Samantha Carder, who came into the game with 42 goals and 21 assists, finally broke free in the closing minutes and gave the Bulldogs a scare. Carder redirected a cross just wide with a dangerous header. It would be the only real chance for Carder.

"We really tried hard to stay on her and mark her up to try to keep her from getting a goal," Schumer said.

The Bulldogs continued to control play in the second half, but could not score on De Soto goalie Jessica Maples. The Dragons switched goalies at halftime, something De Soto is known for doing this season.

De Soto had little structure in its offense as it attempted the comeback. The Dragons simply dumped and chased throughout the game. The touches Carder got were quickly greeted by several Notre Dame defenders. When the Dragons did get the ball deep in Notre Dame territory, sophomore sweeper Alex Fowler was there to play the ball out of danger.

"I thought Alex Fowler had a really good game in the backfield," Worley said. "She kept us organized and really had them frustrated."

In the second half Sanders was especially dangerous. Notre Dame was able to switch field on several occasions to spring Sanders on near breakaways. Maples' aggressive play in goal was the only thing that kept the game from becoming a blowout.

"We would have liked to get a couple more goals. We were dangerous throughout the second half," Worley said. "Their goalie did a nice job."

Notre Dame extended its unbeaten streak to 13 games heading into Saturday's 5 p.m. quarterfinal against Notre Dame-St. Louis at the Anheuser-Busch Center. The Bulldogs are 2-0 in quarterfinal games in program history.

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