By John Lachmann
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Two of Notre Dame’s biggest offensive contributors this postseason teamed up for the Pandas’ paramount and timeliest goal of the year thus far.
Senior Katherine Koplyay set up sophomore Mandy Arnzen in the closing minutes of regulation for the lone goal of Notre Dame’s 1-0 win over Elizabethtown in a state semifinal at Lexington Paul Dunbar on Wednesday.
Pandas coach Sara McSorley did not actually see the goal.
“I had turned around to say something to one of the other coaches and I turned around and the bench was halfway (standing) because it was looking like it was going in,” McSorley said. “I think everybody froze, like, is it in, is it in? And then everyone started cheering, so it was really neat.”
With 3:41 left in regulation, senior Katherine Koplyay juked a defender along the end line in the corner and sent a pass to the top of the goal box. In heavy traffic, Pandas sophomore Mandy Arnzen was able to head the ball past Panthers senior goalkeeper Madison Smith into the corner of the net.
Notre Dame forced Smith to make four saves in each half. The Pandas’ best scoring chance came five minutes before the goal, when sophomore Carissa Dyer ripped a shot that Smith was able to handle cleanly.
Elizabethtown’s only chance came four minutes into the second half when Panthers senior Lexy Hazle broke through the field and forced Notre Dame senior Olivia Voskuhl to make her only save of the match.
That was the only shot Voskuhl has stopped in two matches. She came out in the Pandas’ 4-0 win over South Laurel on Saturday midway through the second half when the outcome was no longer in doubt after not facing a shot.
Kolplyay finished the regular season with four goals in 20 games, but she has netted three in the Pandas’ eight playoff matches, and she has either a goal or an assist in five straight. She has three of each in that span.
Koplyay also did not register an assist this season until the state tournament, but she has earned one in each of Notre Dame’s three state games.
“She’s another one in the postseason that’s really come up big,” McSorley said. “She had a bit of a drought at the end of the regular season, but thank goodness the drought is over for right now.”
Arnzen scored six goals and set up two more prior to the playoffs, and she has seven goals and a helper since the start of the postseason including a three-goal game vs. Conner on Oct. 15.
“I think it’s experience, definitely, because the whole season you train and train for postseason, and I guess this being the postseason I’ve had a little extra,” Arnzen said.
Arnzen’s goal was her 13th of the season, second on the team only to senior Ellie Eckerle, who has 18.
With Wednesday’s win, the team established a Notre Dame record for consecutive victories with 17. They are unbeaten in their last 19 matches dating back to Sept. 1 (18-0-1).
In addition to the school mark, the Pandas also tied the Kentucky record for most shutouts in a season with 20, with seven coming in eight postseason matches. Highlands is the only other team in the state to accomplish that feat, blanking 20 opponents in 2005 and again in 2006.
Notre Dame also won its 25th match of the season, the third-most single-season wins in state history. The record is 27.
The Pandas will play Lexington Tates Creek for a shot at their second straight state championship at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
HALFTIME: 0-0. GOAL: ND—Arnzen. SHUTOUT: Voskuhl (1 save). RECORDS: Notre Dame 25-2-1, Elizabethtown 17-6-2.
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