It’s not really Sammy Scofield’s job to score goals, but the junior from Geneva scored a big one for the Notre Dame women’s soccer team in the nick of time last week.
Scofield’s header with just 3 seconds remaining in Thursday’s match with Syracuse was the difference in a 1-0 home victory for the Fighting Irish.
Scofield scored after a free kick by teammate Morgan Andrews was knocked into the air by the Syracuse keeper, then headed back into the box by Notre Dame defender Brittany Von Rueden.
In terms of time remaining on the clock, it was the latest match-winning goal in Notre Dame history. In 1994, Michelle McCarthy scored with 25 seconds remaining in the second overtime to give the Fighting Irish a 4-3 victory over William & Mary. The latest previous winning goal in a regulation match was scored by Ragen Coyne with 36 seconds left in a 1992 contest at Wright State.
It was the second goal of the season and fourth of her collegiate career for Scofield, who normally doesn’t get a lot of scoring chances as a center-back, where her primary responsibility is keeping the other team off the scoreboard.
“You’re really like the backbone of the team,” she said. “I like that responsibility.”
It’s a responsibility she has borne well for the Fighting Irish. Since breaking into the starting lineup midway through her freshman season, Scofield has started in 42 straight matches. She’s gone the distance in almost all of those, playing a team-high 2,168 minutes last season, in which she was out of the lineup for a total of 47 minutes. So far this season, she has missed just 22 minutes of action in helping Notre Dame to a 7-1 overall record, including a 3-0 mark in the team’s inaugural campaign as a member of the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“The ACC in our eyes is probably the best women’s soccer conference there is,” said Scofield, noting that each year seven or eight schools from the league make it into the NCAA tournament. “It’s a great conference to be in. It’s a great opportunity for us to show we do have the potential to make the tournament and do well.”
The Irish are ranked fourth nationally in one poll and seventh in another. They gained some cachet with the pollsters by opening the ACC schedule with victories at North Carolina State and then-No. 1 ranked North Carolina.
“All of us were just really excited to prove ourselves and show the ACC and whole soccer world we were going to do great things,” Scofield said. “I think we grew as a team … because we showed ourselves we have a lot to offer.”
Scofield has emerged as a leader on a team that plays a lot of underclassmen. As a center-back, Scofield acts much like a catcher does in baseball or softball, making sure her team’s defensive alignment remains correct.
“I like center-back because you can see the whole field,” she said. “It’s very organizational and vocal.”
Scofield did not play high school soccer at Geneva, focusing instead on her club team, Eclipse Select. She did play basketball for the Vikings and earned all-conference accolades for her scrappy guard play, but it was her soccer skills that brought college recruiters knocking on her door. She chose Notre Dame over Clemson, Penn State and others.
“Me and my parents just visited a bunch of schools that showed interest in me,” Scofield recalls. “The last place I visited was Notre Dame. There was something about the place I really liked.”
She says she was attracted to the school by its strong academic reputation, as well as the soccer program that is typically ranked in the top 10 nationally.
“I wanted to be a part of that,” she said. “Overall, it was just the best fit for me.”
• Dennis D. Jacobs writes the On Campus column for the Kane County Chronicle. To suggest local college athletes deserving of recognition, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.