published Friday, September 21st, 2012

Signal Mountain, Lady Irish scoreless

As she helplessly watched Sofia Olenchek's shot pass through the net, Signal Mountain goalkeeper Anna Althaus reverted to a feeling she had nearly a year ago on the same Notre Dame field.

Then she looked and saw an official holding a flag, signaling that the Lady Irish freshman was offside, and Althaus felt a great sense of relief.

It was one of many emotional highs and lows Thursday night when Signal's Class A/AA 11th-ranked Lady Eagles and second-ranked Lady Irish battled, but the game ended just as it started -- in a scoreless tie. It was the first time the fifth-year school has tied Notre Dame on the pitch in the regular season.

They tied in regulation in last year's District 7-A/AA semifinals, but the Lady Irish advanced on penalty kicks. Althaus allowed a goal to the recently graduated Gaby Gurrola in that match.

"I was more eager to play as well as I possibly could, and do as much as I could do to help the team win," said Althaus, who was credited with eight saves Thursday. "Last year, that shot was just a great shot, and there was nothing I could do. When I saw that girl score tonight, I was thinking, 'Not again,' but I was overjoyed when I saw she was called offside."

Notre Dame (6-1-4, 2-0-1) had the first solid opportunity in the first half, when Emma Higgins crossed a ball to Blair Barker, whose shot rolled right to Althaus.

The Lady Eagles (3-1-3, 0-1-1) created a similar opportunity in the second half, when Becca Blevins got a pass through to Lily McGinnis, who was driving toward the goal with the Lady Irish's Laura Champion at her side. Champion bothered McGinnis just enough that the shot was sent right at keeper Natalie Graham.

Notre Dame coach Jim Schermerhorn wasn't too pleased by his team's performance.

"We didn't play well tonight. We didn't do a good job of keeping possession," Schermerhorn said. "We gave the ball away too easily and kind of beat ourselves in a way. I felt good about us going into the game, but this is a tough game to not play our best. We had chances and we should have scored."

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