Lincoln – Behind another brace from Eleanor Dale, the fifth-seeded Nebraska soccer team punched its ticket to the Elite Eight with a convincing 4-0 shutout of UC Irvine in a third-round NCAA Tournament match Sunday in front of 1,717 fans at Barbara Hibner Stadium.
Dale, the nation's leading goal scorer, scored two goals to post her 11th brace of the season on a record-breaking day. With her two goals, Dale increased her season total to a school-record 28 goals. Her four points also gave her 61 on the season, tying the Nebraska record for most points in a season.
Abbey Schwarz opened the scoring with a goal at the 13:54 mark off an assist from Gwen Lane. Nebraska made it 2-0 on Dale's first goal 29:28 into the contest. Schwarz assisted Dale's goal, which tied the school record for most goals in a season. The Huskers weren't done, adding a goal with 4:41 remaining in the first half when Haley Peterson found the back of the net off an assist from Lauryn Anglim for her first goal of the season.
The finisher came at the 86:08 mark, when Dale scored on a free kick just outside the box to become the Nebraska leader for goals in a season.
Schwarz had a goal and an assist to pace the Husker offense, which out-shot UC Irvine, 25-11. Dale had 11 shots herself to match the Anteaters' team total. In net, Sami Hauk had seven saves and Cece Villa stopped one shot as Nebraska posted its seventh shutout of the season.
With the win, Nebraska (17-3-3) advanced to take on either No. 2 seed Stanford or No. 6 seed Mississippi State in the Elite Eight. The Cardinal and Bulldogs play on Sunday afternoon, with the winner advancing to face the Huskers.
UC Irvine, which upset two seeded teams to advance to play Nebraska, ended its season with a 10-8-6 record.
Not done yet. pic.twitter.com/vnBw0QpzIy— Nebraska Soccer (@HuskerSoccer) November 19, 2023
Nebraska was the aggressor in the opening 15 minutes, out-shooting UC Irvine, 5-0. The fifth shot found the back of the net, as Schwarz slotted one into the bottom corner of the net off an assist from Lane at the 13:54 mark.
ABBEY SCHWARZ. 1-0 HUSKERS. 😤 pic.twitter.com/xpj1jNMina— Nebraska Soccer (@HuskerSoccer) November 19, 2023
The Huskers kept up the pressure as Dale had a couple of near misses following the goal. Her first attempt was blocked on a good defensive play and two minutes later, Dale made solid contact on a one-time volley inside the box that sailed just high.
UC Irvine nearly equalized in the 21st minute, but Hauk came up with a big save for Nebraska.
The Huskers made it 2-0 on a fantastic goal in the 30th minute. Dale played a great ball to Schwarz, who then returned the favor with a perfectly placed cross into the box that Dale put home with a superb finish. The goal was Dale’s 27th of the season, tying the school record for goals in a season.
🚨 ELEANOR DALE HAS TIED THE PROGRAM RECORD WITH HER 27TH GOAL OF THE SEASON! 🚨 pic.twitter.com/QoN6yn2w52— Nebraska Soccer (@HuskerSoccer) November 19, 2023
Hauk came up big with another save with 10 minutes left in the half, denying the Anteaters a quality chance for the second time. UC Irvine goalkeeper Glo Hinojosa answered with a nice save on a shot from Sarah Weber that was headed for the back of the net.
Nebraska then took a 3-0 lead with less than five minutes remaining in the half. Weber won a corner with a great individual effort and Anglim’s corner found Peterson at the back of the net, and Peterson headed it home to send Nebraska into the locker room with a three-goal lead.
THE HEADER OFF THE CORNER FROM HALEY PETERSON‼️ pic.twitter.com/VULjTMUgbn— Nebraska Soccer (@HuskerSoccer) November 19, 2023
The Huskers had 17 shots in the first half, including eight on goal. UC Irvine was limited to five total shots, but four of those were on frame as Hauk made four saves.
Nebraska kept up its pressure with two shots in the first three minutes of the second half. Both teams had great scoring chances less than 30 second apart in the 57th minute, with each goalkeeper turning the opponent away.
In the 59th minute, Dale missed her second goal of the match by inches as her shot just went wide of the far post. Twenty minutes later, Florence Belzile hit the crossbar, narrowly missing a goal.
The Huskers' final goal was set up when Weber drew a foul just outside of the Anteater box. Dale then beat the keeper with a free kick into the side of the net to cap an impressive performance for the Cornhuskers.
🚨🌽🚨🏴🌽🏴🚨🌽🚨🏴🌽🏴‼️‼️ pic.twitter.com/oLijsjLYhm— Nebraska Soccer (@HuskerSoccer) November 19, 2023
Nebraska Post-Match Notes
- With the win, Nebraska advanced to the Elite Eight for the third time in program history and for the first time since 1999. The win was the Huskers’ 20th all-time NCAA Tournament victory.
- The shutout was Nebraska’s first in the NCAA Tournament since 2016, and was NU’s 14th all-time shutout in 32 postseason matches.
- The Huskers improved to 10-1-2 at Barbara Hibner Stadium this season, marking the first time NU has won 10 home matches in a season since 2001.
- The Huskers won their 17th match of the season, their most wins since the 2013 season.
- Nebraska has scored 11 goals in its first three NCAA Tournament matches. The 11 goals are the most the Huskers have ever scored in a single NCAA Tournament, eclipsing the previous record of eight in both the 1998 and 2001 NCAA Tournaments.
- Nebraska has won two if its three NCAA Tournament matches by multiple goals (5-2 over South Dakota State and 4-0 over UC Irvine). This marks only the second time in the Huskers’ 13 all-time NCAA Tournament matches that Nebraska has posted multiple victories by multiple goals (also two multi-goal victories in the 2001 NCAA Tournament).
- Eleanor Dale scored her nation-leading 27th and 28th goals in the match to post her 11th multi-goal match of the season. With her 28 goals, Dale broke the Nebraska record for goals in a season with Kim Engesser, who previously held the record with 27 goals in 1998.
- Dale’s two goals increased her season total to 61 points. That ties Engesser's school record for most points in a season, as Engesser tallied 61 points in 1998.
- Dale now ranks third in Big Ten history in single-season goals (28) and sixth in single-season points (61). Dale is just the fourth player in Big Ten history to total 60 points in a season.
- Dale had 11 shots against UC Irvine, a school record for an NCAA Tournament match. The previous record had been 10 shots by Lindsay Eddleman against Minnesota in 1996.