The top-ranked Cavaliers remained perfect with a 3-2 overtime victory in front of 2,838 at Klockner Stadium, the largest home crowd in program history.
Morgan Brian scored on a downward header 11 minutes into sudden death off Danielle Colaprico’s corner kick. If the ball crossed the line, it was not by much. But to the delight of the Cavaliers (13-0-0, 7-0-0 ACC) and the dismay of the ninth-ranked Fighting Irish (9-3-1, 5-2-1), the assistant referee raised his flag to signal a goal.
“That’s his job. He had the best angle on it,” Virginia Coach Steve Swanson said. “That is what they are there for. It wasn’t like he was uncertain.”
On the play, Elizabeth Tucker, who had scored twice for Notre Dame, deflected Brian’s header on the goal line. Goalkeeper Kaela Little slapped at it, and Kaleigh Olmstead cleared it.
Irish Coach Randy Waldrum did not think the entire ball crossed the line.
“Just because you run back and cheer as if you scored a goal doesn’t make it a goal,” he said of Virginia’s immediate celebration. “It wasn’t a goal. . . . [The officiating crew] doesn’t need to be doing ACC games.”
Said Notre Dame forward Cari Roccaro: “I don’t think it was in.”
Said Brian: “I thought it was.”
Said Colaprico, who had a view from the corner: “I watched it go over the line.”
The disputed goal ended a gripping match played in torrential rain and pulled Virginia within three victories of the longest winning streak in program history. The Cavaliers (10-0-0 at home) will play their next three on the road, culminating against defending champion North Carolina on Oct. 20.
The nation’s highest-scoring unit struck in the first five minute of each half, but the Irish responded on Tucker’s goals — the second coming with about 17 minutes left in regulation to force up to 20 minutes of extra time.
It marked the first overtime of the year for the Cavaliers and only their fourth one-goal margin.
Colaprico set up the first goal, crossing to Gloria Douglas for a six-yard header. Tucker answered in the 25th minute by tucking in Morgan Andrews’s shot off the right post.
After the break, the Cavaliers regained their menaced form — and the lead. In the heart of the penalty area, Brian and the Irish’s Rebecca Twining rose for Molly Menchel’s cross. Twining inadvertently headed it into the left corner for an own goal.
However, in the 73rd minute, a moment after Olmstead hit the crossbar from 20 yards, Tucker was left unmarked at the six-yard box and redirected Taylor Schneider’s cross.
“Our players played with great resolve,” Swanson said. “Usually, when you have two good teams, there are going to be ebbs and flows. There certainly was tonight.”