CLASS A/AA SECTIONAL
NOTRE DAME 1, EAST HAMILTON 0
Halftime score: 1-0. Goal: Liz Kidwell. Assist: Erin Freeman. Shots: Notre Dame, 12-8. Saves: Kendra Ivins 10 (EH); Grace Courter 7 (ND). Records: Notre Dame 7-11-3; East Hamilton 13-7-1.
Offense wins games and defense wins championships, but when a defense can win a game, it's that much more fulfilling as a team.
Notre Dame defender Liz Kidwell punched in an Erin Freeman corner kick about 20 minutes into their Class A/AA sectional contest against East Hamilton, and the Lady Irish defense made the goal stand in defeating the Lady Hurricanes 1-0 to advance to next week's state tournament with a chance to defend their title.
Notre Dame, ranked third in Class A/AA, improved to 7-11-3. East Hamilton ended the best season in program history at 13-7-1.
The Lady Irish have had improved play for the past two weeks, having finally created an identity that worked for them.
"We had such a tough battle with [Chattanooga Christian] Thursday, and lost in such a heartbreaking way," Schermerhorn said of their shootout loss in the Region 4-A/AA final, "but the way we played, I think we gained some momentum. We've been playing better. I think some things have finally clicked and they understand where we are now.
"I'm glad, too. I've been patiently waiting."
Kidwell found herself in the right spot at the right time, and her shot from near the goal line bounded off the left post and angled in.
"I knew the ball was coming to me because we practice that play," Kidwell said. "I saw that I had an open shot in the corner, and to watch it go in is an awesome feeling. We've worked hard and come together in the last few games."
Both defenses found themselves on their heels the rest of the match, with East Hamilton penetrating for some dangerous opportunities, including shots by Yinka Ladapo and Chandler Smith that were saved by Grace Courter. She finished with seven stops.
"After that goal, our response was great," East Hamilton coach John Millard said. "We knocked the ball around and created a few chances but just fell short.
"I'm proud of my girls, though. There's no quit in this team."