Despite losing 4-1 to No. 5/7 Notre Dame on Sunday, St. John’s women’s soccer coach Ian Stone was not discouraged by his team’s play.
“I actually feel we played pretty well,” he said. “Unfortunately, we were up against a pretty good team. I was pretty happy with the way we played.”
After Friday’s 2-1 double-overtime loss to DePaul, Stone was pleased with his team’s effort and the way they rebounded, but Notre Dame is a top-10 team for a reason. They raced out to a 2-0 lead in the first 20 minutes and never looked back.
Melissa Henderson did most of the damage for the Irish. The junior forward, who leads the Big East in goals and points, wasted no time getting on the board Sunday. She drew a penalty after being taken down inside the box and scored her ninth goal of the season on the ensuing penalty kick.
Her shot from the penalty spot sailed past junior goalkeeper Kristin Russell for her ninth goal of the year.
Henderson wasn’t done, either. In the 19th minute, she got past her defender and found freshman midfielder Elizabeth Tucker with a low cross. Tucker tucked it away from six yards out to make the score 2-0.
In the 57th minute, Henderson weaved through four defenders near the penalty spot and put a shot inside the low post to cap off a two goal, four point afternoon.
She was the difference, according to Stone.
“Melissa Henderson scored two great goals and had a great assist,” he said. “If you take her out, it’s a pretty even game.”
The Johnnies struggled offensively themselves, putting up just five shots, two of which were on goal. St. John’s lone goal came in the 71st minute when a shot bounced off an Irish defender and into the net.
Junior forward Jen Leaverton put up the only shot on goal in the first half. In the 29th minute, her long-range attempt was stopped by Notre Dame senior keeper Nikki Weiss. Five minutes later, Weiss went high to stop another Leaverton shot, this time from the right side of the box.
It was the fifth loss in the last six games for the young Red Storm, who have seventeen freshman on the roster.
“We’re improving,” said Stone. “But sometimes it’s difficult to tell from the stats. We have so many young players that are working hard to get better.”
It didn’t help matters playing a Notre Dame team that has not lost a conference game since 2005. The Irish are 68-0-3 in during a 71-game unbeaten streak in conference play, an NCAA Division 1 record.
“It was more of them being good than us playing bad,” he said
St. John’s comes home this weekend to try to turn things around. They take on Pittsburgh , who shares the Johnnies 1-4 conference record, at Belson Stadium on Friday.