Sophomore Michele Weissenhofer and senior Lauren Karas led the way with multiple clutch plays, as the Notre Dame women's soccer team emerged with a hard-fought 3-2 victory in Saturday's NCAA round-of-16 game at North Carolina.
Notre Dame (18-4-2) extended its unbeaten streak to 16 games and next will play host to an NCAA quarterfinal game on Friday, Nov. 30, at 7:00 eastern.
The Irish will face the winner of Sunday's game between Indiana at Duke.
Weissenhofer's rightside flip-throw assisted on Brittany Bock's 15th goal of the season (and her 19th career goal on a header) in the 13th minute of play, but the scored then quickly changed to 2-0.
North Carolina (19-4-1) turned the ball over on the ensuing kickoff and Kerri Hanks fired the ball back towards the UNC penalty area, with Weissenhofer alertly chasing the play and firing into the vacated net when the Tar Heels' goalkeeper mishandled the bouncing ball.
The goals came only 14 seconds apart, representing the quickest back-to-back goals ever in a Notre Dame women's soccer postseason game. It also dramatically ended a series of slow starts to games this season for the Irish, who had totaled only four goals during the first 15 minutes of their 2007 games prior to Saturday's two-goal sequence.
The hosts answered early in the second half, when Allie Long sent home a penalty kick, but Weissenhofer struck again on a breakaway goal in the 61st minute. UNC again battled back, with Nikki Washington heading in a free-kick service, but the veteran goalkeeper Karas and the ever-improving Irish back line made the key plays down the stretch for the 3-2 win.
Notre Dame (3-9-2) joins Santa Clara (4-14-0) as the only teams ever to defeat North Carolina more than twice. UNC had owned a decided advantage in recent years, going 6-1-0 versus the Irish in the past seven meetings (dating back to the 1996 NCAA championship game).
Karas came up with five saves - several of the game-changing variety - while freshman right back Julie Scheidler also made a huge clear off the line to deny a UNC chance following a leftside corner-kick service.
Notre Dame is advancing to the NCAA quarterfinal round for the 11th time in the past 14 seasons (1994-2007), the second-most quarterfinal trips in that span behind UNC's 13.
Weissenhofer now has totaled six career game-winning goals in postseason play, already the most postseason GWGs ever by a Notre Dame player (besting Monica Gerardo's five, from 1995-98).
Notre Dame now has won 261 consecutive games when claiming a 2-0 lead, dating back to the 1991 season.