Scottsdale Notre Dame Prep made a statement with its performance earlier this month at the Horizon Tournament of Champions, knocking off four-time defending Division II champion Tucson Catalina Foothills as well as top DivisionI team Anthem Boulder Creek en route to the tournament championship.
It showed no signs of slowing down Friday in regular-season action, notching a 2-0 home victory over Phoenix Arcadia in a DivisionII, SectionI match.
Notre Dame made an early goal stand up for most of the game before getting the clincher in the final minutes to push its record to 6-1-1.
“It’s a much better start than even we could’ve imagined,” Notre Dame coach Tom White said. “The girls have pretty much done everything they need to do.”
With Arcadia (3-2-1) missing its top two players — senior midfielder Annie Sherman and junior forward Megan Hawkins — due to injuries, coach Adam Zweiback was forced into a more conservative style of play.
It showed, particularly in the first half, as Notre Dame dominated possession and rarely found the ball on its own side of the field.
“We thought we would change from what we normally do, which is spread the field and attack,” Zweiback said.
“We played a little more compactly, a little more defensively, because we know (Notre Dame) is a terrific team. We thought we would defend and then counter-attack.”
But the plan backfired less than three minutes into the game, as Notre Dame senior midfielder Rachel Jones took a cross on a bounce and fired a volley from about 30 yards out that got past the Arcadia goalkeeper.
“We got it to our outside defender and she just took it down and crossed,” Jones said. “I was there and somehow finished it. It was a great teamwork effort.”
Arcadia made adjustments at halftime and found itself with a few more chances in the second half, including a drive from senior defender Kate Staudenmaier that clanged off the crossbar in the 33rd minute.
But once Notre Dame freshman forward Taylor Culver found the back of the net to make it 2-0 with just over four minutes to go, Arcadia’s hopes for a comeback were extinguished.