Fact: When Melissa Henderson plays a part in the scoring, the Irish never lose. The junior assisted on freshman Adriana Leon’s goal in the 63rd minute to help Notre Dame secure its third College Cup title in school history with Sunday’s 1-0 win over previously unbeaten Stanford. Notre Dame, which finished the season with a 21-2-2 record, improved to 43-0-2 when Henderson gets a point.
“Basically, I knew we had to get forward and attack,” Henderson said. “That was our main mindset this whole tournament. If you walk in our locker room you’ll see the word ‘attack’ 50 times on the wall. Our coaches printed out flyers saying ‘attack’ and posted them everywhere, so we had that mindset going into it. It’s just about that one turn, you get past the defender and there’s one more to beat, and then you have a spotted pass and it’s going to be wide open.”
Notre Dame Head Coach Randy Waldrum said after that game that despite this being Stanford’s only loss of the season, this game was far from an upset.
“The one thing I said on television right after the game was that this [Notre Dame] was the best team in the country, this was not an upset,” Waldrum said following the game. “I know everybody had pre-ordained Stanford as the national champion this year. I would make an argument that once the NCAA Tournament started, the path we took with the way we won games with 14 or 15 goals and one against us in four games, beating Carolina on the road, beating a very good Stanford team, knocking off two No. 1’s and I think two No. 3’s. To me, we’re the best team in the country come NCAA Tournament time. I’m really proud of the girls.”
The Cardinal finish the season with a 23-1-2 record, losing in the finals for the second straight season.
“It’s a disappointing way to end the season,” Stanford Head Coach Paul Ratcliffe said. “I’m proud of the team. I thought they played well. I give credit to Notre Dame. They are a good team and it was an exciting game, I’m sure, for the fans.”
Stanford freshman keeper Emily Oliver made some tremendous saves for the Cardinal, but couldn’t get to the one that beat her, a tough shot that went top shelf and in the opposite direction of Oliver’s momentum.
“They got inline on us and crossed it back. Our girls were coming in to cover me in the goal. Unfortunately, one of their players was left open. She hit a great shot. It went over my right shoulder,” Oliver said. “A couple of times I was in the right place at the right time. Even though there were close shots, our defense was always right there close with them. We were keeping them under pressure. They just got some offensive plays going.”
The All-Tournament Team was announced after the game and included: Henderson, who was named Most Outstanding Player on Offense and Notre Dame’s Jessica Schuveiller, who was name Most Outstanding Player on Defense. The team also include Hannah Cerrone (Boston College), Katie Baumgardner (Ohio State), Camille Levin (Stanford), Christen Press (Stanford), Emily Oliver (Stanford), Rose Augustin (Notre Dame), Mandy Laddish (Notre Dame), Courtney Barg (Notre Dame), and Adriana Leon (Notre Dame).