St. Vincent shuts out Notre Dame in girls soccer to improve to 7-0

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

St. Vincent blanked Notre Dame 1-0 in girls soccer action

PERRYVILLE, Mo. -- The Notre Dame girls soccer team weathered the first storm St. Vincent threw at it Tuesday afternoon.

However, it was the second Storm that did the damage.

After peppering Notre Dame with shots early in the first half, St. Vincent broke through in the second half on a goal by Storm French and won 1-0 at the Soccer Complex.

The goal came in the 54th minute and kept the Indians' perfect run alive. St. Vincent, the defending Class 1 state champions, improved to 7-0 with the win.

French's team-leading seventh goal came just when it looked like the Indians may have missed their best chances to net one. St. Vincent fired 22 shots, three of which banged off the uprights or crossbar, and forced Notre Dame senior goalkeeper Lindsey Strieker to make 10 saves.

In the first 10 minutes of the game, St. Vincent applied constant pressure on Strieker, who first received help from the right goalpost on a shot by sophomore Abby Lappe, then assistance from the crossbar on a shot by sophomore Courtney Heberlie just minutes later.

"It's frustrating when it happens, but it gives you more of a drive to keep going," said Lappe, who is second on the team with six goals, of her shot that hit the post.

St. Vincent coach Dustin Wengert had seen his defending state champions outscore their first six opponents 26-1, and liked what he saw early as his team tried to add to that lopsided margin.

"We always talk about the first five to 10 minutes being very crucial, and I thought we did a very nice job of controlling the first five or 10 minutes today," Wengert said.

Notre Dame (3-4) clearly was on its heels.

"We were fortunate for about 10 minutes that we didn't get scored on, but we adjusted and we learned some things, and we got better as the game got on," Notre Dame coach Jeff Worley said.

The game was scoreless at halftime, but French changed that with a play that showcased her moves, speed and kicking power.

"[She made] a great turn out there and really broke us down," Worley said. "She's got a ton of speed and has a real good feel of the defender coming up on her, and she can push the ball by and explode."

The sophomore had the ball on the left side about midway down Notre Dame's end of the field when she spun outside of the defender and drove hard toward the end line, where she laced a liner at Strieker. The Notre Dame goalkeeper made the save about waist high, but the ball worked loose and bounced around the goal line. Strieker fell to the ground as she tried to corral the loose ball with her legs, but it managed to elude the senior and just crossed the line.

"I was dribbling and then I tried to beat her, and I did," French said. "I was like even with the goalpost, I think, and I just kind of kicked it and I just thought the goalkeeper was going to get it so I just turned around, and then everybody started screaming, and I was like, 'Oh.'"

The goal came as no surprise to Wengert.

"She's got a lot of skill, and probably her biggest asset is her speed, but man she's got a lot of punch behind that ball," Wengert said. "She was able to lace one up and get one on the keeper and I think the momentum is probably what forced the ball into the net. The keeper made the initial save. She did a nice job of showing off her athletic ability, but an even better job by finishing it."

Worley was not bemoaning the fact that the winning goal barely made it across the line.

"With the opportunities they had, they deserved to get one at some point," Worley said.

He certainly could find no fault with his keeper. Strieker has been playing goal for the first time during her senior season.

"Her positioning is very good, and she had a lot thrown at her," Worley said. "She was very composed back there. I'm really pleased with the progress she's making."

Notre Dame took eight shots and forced St. Vincent goalkeeper Allison Ernst to make three saves in her sixth shutout of the season. Ernst made her most difficult save with about five minutes left in the game when she dropped to her knees near the right post to handle a drive by Allyson Bradshaw from around the top of the box.

The victory was the Indians' second straight over Notre Dame, which beat St. Vincent badly in the first of two meetings last season. St. Vincent avenged that loss later in the season with a 2-1 victory. The teams will meet again May 4 at Notre Dame, which reached the Class 1 final four twice (2003 an 2004) before moving up to Class 2 last season when MSHSAA added a third class.

"I think it's not so much, 'Oh my gosh we're playing Notre Dame today,' any more," Wengert said. "I think we believe in ourselves a little bit. Notre Dame is a team we look for to measure ourselves toward the end of the season."

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