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Jackson blanks ND
The Notre Dame Bulldogs looked poised to break a scoreless tie just five minutes into the second half.
A minute later, after a diving save by Jackson goalie Morgan Riddick, the Indians scored first.
The Indians (10-3) countered the Bulldogs (7-6) with an Erin Eakens goal six minutes into the second half and defeated Notre Dame 2-0 on Tuesday night.
"I just took a pass and took a touch," Eakens said. "Then I saw the net and took a shot and it went in. It was pretty big momentum after that."
Added Jackson co-coach Justin McMullin: "We changed systems at half. We wanted to free up a few things and told the girls to shoot and good things will happen."
Good things certainly happened, but not before the Bulldogs put a scare into Jackson.
Five minutes into the second, Notre Dame forward Brianne Sanders found herself free on the right side of the box and fired a shot at the Indians goal. But Riddick made a diving save to preserve the scoreless tie.
Eakens scored the go-ahead goal seconds later.
"When you have two teams really going at it and putting so much effort into a game, the first goal means a lot," Bulldogs coach Jeff Worley said. "Then teams have to look at how you react to that. Do you get deflated? I was pleased with the way we kept the pressure up."
The Bulldogs had chances against Jackson, but Riddick and her defense refused to budge.
The Indians have been solid all season and their strength showed against the Bulldogs.
"We haven't allowed too many goals all season," McMullin said. "Our defense has been our heart and soul. They don't get enough credit. It starts with the keeper, but the people in front of her are blocking shots as well. They came up big tonight. The girls did a great job communicating."
The two rivals had solid scoring opportunities in the first half.
The Indians nearly got a goal in the 23rd minute when a Bulldogs foul outside the box gave the Indians a free kick. Jackson rifled the free kick at the net, but Notre Dame's Lindsey Strieker made a nice save before the Indians missed on the rebound.
Notre Dame received its best chance in the 14th minute when Meghan Dohogne found the ball at her feet after a cluster in the Indians box.
But a Jackson defender got in the way of the shot and deflected it out of bounds.
Notre Dame seemed to handle the Indians' pressure much better than their previous meeting, a 4-0 Jackson victory.
"We told them they are very strong and quick," Bulldogs assistant coach Matt Vollink said. "We didn't want them to possess the ball, but they keep coming. The only way to handle Jackson is to keep the ball off their feet."
Added Worley: "We created so much more than the last time we played them. We have showed great improvement and are headed in the right direction."
As much as the Bulldogs improved, the Indians kept attacking.
Jackson netted its second goal off a Kasey Crowden corner.
Crowden's cross rattled near the goal line before eventually going in and giving Jackson a decisive 2-0 lead.
"They kept putting pressure on us," Worley said. "That pressure forces people into mistakes. Once they get down in your end, you get a little more nervous and started diving in and standing flat-footed."
Added McMullin: "We knew the first game didn't matter anymore. We were going to get their best. It was a very good game and both teams had opportunities to score. We stressed at half to go out early and steal the momentum right away on their home field."
But Notre Dame refused to go down.
Bradshaw nearly put the Bulldogs on the board with just less than five minutes left in the game, but once again Riddick came up with the point-blank save.
"It always feels great to make a save," Riddick said. "I was really getting in the game more and it helped. Our momentum picked up."
Worley added: "She stood her ground. We had a couple well-struck balls where we were waiting for the rebound, but she didn't give us second chances. She secured everything that came her way."