Sarah Farrell
ASU Student Journalist

Notre Dame girls advance in state playoffs

February 7, 2019 by Sarah Farrell, Arizona State University

Notre Dame junior Alexa Clatt dribbles the ball upfield against the Buena Colts. The Saints dominated possession on the way to a 6-0 victory Thursday night. (Photo Courtesy of Mike Harvey/Peak Image Photo)

One of the smallest players on the field had the biggest impact for the Notre Dame Saints in their 6-0 play-in tournament victory over the visiting Buena Colts on Thursday.

Senior Marion Rains' first goal came off a corner kick from fellow senior Caitlin Redican. Rains was staked out at the top of the box, found the end of the cross and headed it into the back of the net.

Rains scored again as the game was winding down. This time junior Noelle Wilson laid the ball off for Rains who was in the right place at the right time in front of the goal.Senior Marion Rains slots home her second goal of the game. It was the final goal of the game for the Saints. (Photo Courtesy of Mike Harvey/Peak Image Photo)

Notre Dame senior Marion Rains scores her second goal of Thursday's win over Buena. (Photo Courtesy of Mike Harvey/Peak Image Photo)

“We all wanted to score after we got that first one in,” Rains said. “It was like a rush to try and get more as [the game] went on.”

It was just Rains’ third and fourth goals of the season thus far.

The Saints (9-6-2, 4-2) will hit the road Saturday to play in the first round of the state 5A championship playoffs. The opponent and location will be determined by the AIA Friday afternoon, but the game will kick off at 2 p.m.

As a team, the Saints controlled possession from the opening kick against Buena (4-9-2, 2-3).

“At the beginning of the season we struggled with keeping possession,” junior Alexa Clatt said. “We mainly would just kick it up the field. But I think we found a way to connect our passes and get it up the field.”

And while the Saints got many dangerous chances throughout the opening minutes, the first goal didn’t come until after the 25th minute.

“Buena did such a good job of, I would call it a swarm defense,” Notre Dame head coach Tom White said. “It took our girls a minute or two to figure out how to deal with that pressure.”

Wilson came off the bench about 15 minutes into the first half and changed the pace of the game for Notre Dame. Coming off the bench, “you try to just speed up the game however you can,” she said.

Wilson scored the eventual game-winner on a ball that was played out wide. It came in as her teammate, junior Megan Chermack, held up two girls. Then Wilson ran onto the ball, and just shot it, she said.

“You can’t over-think things or else you’re not going to make it in,” Wilson said.

Rains’ header gave Notre Dame a 2-0 lead at halftime, and the Saints continued to control possession in the second half.

In the 52nd minute Clatt, the team’s leading goal scorer this season with 12 goals, had a strike that bounced off the cross bar and into the net. Then, less than a minute later, senior Alex Blum found the back of the net off yet another corner kick.

Redican added a fifth goal and Rains scored the final goal for the Saints.

The Colts did not have much in the way of sustained offense until the end of the game when their midfield made sustained pushes upfield. Their best chance of the night came in the closing seconds when junior Astrid Galvez had a one-on-one opportunity against the Saints' backup goalkeeper Zoe Sugidono, who made a last-second, sliding save to preserve the shutout.

It was the fifth shutout in the past six games for Notre Dame. Despite the fact that the Saints controlled the ball for much of the game, White believes there’s always room to improve possession.

“When we control the flow of the game, and pass the ball around, we’re a much more dangerous team and can dictate the pace of the game,” White said.