The last time Notre Dame and Signal Mountain met on the soccer field, the two teams played to a scoreless tie. Tuesday night's rematch was not only the girls' District 7-A/AA semifinal but also the rescheduled senior night for the host Lady Irish, who were determined to earn a different outcome.
Emma Higgins' hat trick helped them achieve it.
Her three goals, combined with an assist on a Sofia Olenchek score, led Notre Dame to a 4-0 victory over Signal Mountain and a spot in Thursday night's district championship match.
"Going into our first game against them, I think we were kind of overconfident," Lady Irish coach Jim Schermerhorn said. "We just didn't play well, and Signal Mountain did. Today we had a little better approach, and played a lot better."
Notre Dame got on the board near the midway point of the first half when Higgins scored on a ball from Blair Barker. Her second goal came about 10 minutes later when Higgins sent a corner from Bridget Bernard into the net, giving the Lady Irish a 2-0 halftime advantage.
They added to their lead two minutes into the second period when Olenchek scored, and with 21:33 remaining in the match, Higgins sent a high ball from Hannah Deering over the Lady Eagles' keeper and inside the far post. Notre Dame had several more dangerous scoring chances the rest of the way, including a shot off the crossbar in the final two minutes.
"A lot of things just worked well for us today," Schermerhorn said. "Our work rate was better, and our passing was much better. Overall, we just did a good job with everything."
After the match, the Lady Irish celebrated their victory and honored their six seniors, whose original senior-night match from earlier in the season had been cancelled.
"This was a high pressure game to have for senior night, but they stepped up to the challenge," Schermerhorn said of his senior class. "They made things happen for us tonight."
With the win, Notre Dame is now 8-2-5 and will face rival Chattanooga Christian in Thursday's district championship match.
"It's going to be another tough match between us and CCS," Schermerhorn said. "We're looking forward to it."
CCS 6 Sequatchie County 0
Allie Vannoy, Hannah Henry and Ashley Simmons each had two goals in the Lady Chargers semifinal win over Sequatchie County. Kruesi Brock, Savanna Cingilli, Sara Farlett and Sarah Summitt each had one assist.
CCS (12-2-4) led 3-0 at the half.
(E-mail Jaime Barrett at firstname.lastname@example.org)