NOTRE DAME 5, McMINN CENTRAL 0
Halftime score: 3-0. Goals: Emma Higgins, Mackenzie Nadeau, Erin Freeman, Sofia Olenchek, Gaby Mullin. Assists: Higgins, Freeman, Blair Barker. Shots on goal: Notre Dame, 17-3. Saves: Carina Rodriguez 9 (MC); Natalie Graham 3 (ND). Records: Notre Dame 11-2-5; McMinn Central 16-5.
Notre Dame eventually suckered McMinn Central into playing the way of the Lady Irish in the second half of their Class A/AA soccer sectional contest Saturday.
The third-ranked Lady Irish pretty much had their way in the first 40 minutes.
Notre Dame was able to secure a spot in the state quarterfinals with a 5-0 victory over the 10th-ranked Chargerettes. The win was a complete team effort, as five players scored and three had assists, with everybody playing.
"I thought we played pretty well," Notre Dame coach Jim Schermerhorn said. "A lot of things went our way: We scored early, we passed well and we defended well on our end."
Emma Higgins got the Lady Irish (11-2-5) on the board early with a goal assisted by Blair Barker, and then Mackenzie Nadeau scored with an Erin Freeman assist. Higgins later crossed a ball that both Barker and Freeman crashed in on, with the latter being credited with the goal.
Sofia Olenchek and Gaby Mullin had second-half goals.
The Chargerettes (16-5) played regular keeper Taylor Young in the field after an injury to Maddie Young recently. Reserve Carina Rodriguez took her place and made nine saves.
Coach Bill McConkey said that after not showing up in the first half, his team tried to match the physical play of the Lady Irish. In the final 40 minutes, yellow cards were issued to Higgins and McMinn Central's Elizabeth Wells after an exchange, and things remained chippy between the clubs.
"I don't think we handled it well," McConkey said. "Notre Dame has a different style of play. Most of the teams we played are physical side-to-side, and they don't take punches at you. I thought we backed down when they played their style of play.
"Notre Dame is good, though. They play and finish well, and I don't know who can contain them the rest of the way."