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Thorlakson, Irish stay perfect

Dan Tapetillo | Monday, September 27, 2004

The No. 1 ranked Irish (10-0-0) apparently needed a challenge to prove why they are the top-ranked program in the nation.

Friday night’s 3-1 victory over Pittsburgh (3-0-0) was not an easy win for Notre Dame as the team found itself with a deficit in the first half.

The physical style of play by the Panther offense turned out to be beneficial for Pittsburgh as the team scored in the 31st minute of the game. Pittsburgh midfielder Erin Hills tracked down a loose ball and scored outside the top of the box over Irish goalkeeper Erika Bohn to give the Panther’s a 1-0 lead.

The Irish struggled to find the net throughout the first half despite having nine opportunities. As the clock wound down towards halftime, it was apparent a sense of urgency began to affect the Notre Dame’s play.

“When it was getting a little closer to halftime, you could see a little bit of panic in the kids,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “That is one of the things we wanted to solve at halftime was to just calm down and relax.”

In the second half, the team continued to struggle early on with finding the net. It wasn’t until 19 minutes left in regulation that the Irish finally scored their first goal. An assist from Kim Lorenzen opened up the shot for Melissa Tancredi at the top of the box and the ball was deflected into the goal. The goal was Tancredi’s second of the season.

“We had plenty of time in the next half but it was important that we got the next goal. We couldn’t go two down,” Waldrum said. “Fortunately, it was Melissa’s goal off the deflection, and we’ll take it anyway we can get. But it got us back in.”

Once the Irish scored, it only took the team three minutes to find the net once again. The goal came off a penalty kick by Katie Thorlakson. The penalty kick was awarded to the Irish after freshman forward Amanda Cinalli was tackled in the box by the Panther’s Rachel Vecchio.

“We talked about it during half that if we got one, we could break it open,” Waldrum said.

The Irish did in fact extend their lead three minutes left in the game. A left side corner kick from Thorlakson was sent to Tancredi, who headed the ball to the right side of the pocket. The pass set up Candace Chapman to score her sixth goal of the season.

Despite having to come from behind for the 3-1 victory, Waldrum was pleased with the way his team performed.

“The character of the team showed and if we are really going to be the best team in the country, we have to come back and win games like this,” Waldrun said.

Notre Dame 4, University of Wisconsin-Green Bay 0

The Irish continued their dominance Sunday after playing the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Notre Dame began the match by doing what Waldrum had set out to do, take advantage of the early opportunities.

The team took advantage in the first half by scoring four goals out of its first five attempts.

The first two goals came from Thorlakson within the first 20 minutes of the contest. Five minutes later, the third goal came off an assist from Thorlakson to Cinalli who scored at the top of the box for the 3-0 lead.

The fourth and final goal of the half was scored by Annie Schefter who drove to the top of the box and hit the right side of the net.

During the second half, the team made several changes to its lineup and failed to score. However, the Irish did manage to keep Wisconsin-Green Bay scoreless in the second period to get the shutout.

Despite being kept scoreless for the second half of play, Waldrum remained optimistic with the team’s performance on Sunday and is looking for the Irish to continue to mature and find chemistry on the field.

“I think if we keep sharp mentally and keep our focus as a team that we have a great shot at making a good run [in the NCAA Tournament],” Waldrum said.

Another contributing factor to the team’s overall success is Thorlakson’s presence on and off the field.

“She is one of the best players in the country. We have not come across any of the top teams this year and seen anybody play better than her,” Waldrum said. “Hopefully [this year] she will get the recognition that she really deserves.”

Notes:

Last week, Thorlakson announced she will remain with the Irish for the rest of the season. Thorlakson had the opportunity to play for the Canadian team at the Under-19 World Championships, Nov. 10-27, but would have missed the NCAA Tournament up to the quarterfinals.