Not this time
Dan Tapetillo | Monday, November 22, 2004
The No. 2 Irish turned in another impressive performance during the third round of the NCAA tournament with a 2-0 shutout over conference rival Connecticut, who dealt the Irish their only loss of the year in the Big East Tournament.
From the beginning of the match, Notre Dame controlled the game offensively. At the end of the first half, the Irish held a 12-3 lead in shots made.
However, this dominance offensively did not help the team to convert these early opportunities into points.
The team struggled to score until the 66th minute of the game, when senior Candace Chapman headed a ball in off a cross from freshman midfielder Ashley Jones for her 11th goal of the season.
“She comes on immediately and handles it like a veteran,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said of Jones. “The hard part is now [because of the Irish talent] getting her the minutes she really needs and deserves. She just gets better each week. I thought she was fantastic tonight.”
Despite the difficulties in scoring up until the goal made by Chapman, Waldrum was not troubled with the team’s inability to put the ball into the net.
“The whole night I felt like we created enough chances that we would get one,” Waldrum said. “I felt like we had a good handle on the game from the opening whistle.”
The Irish extended its control on the field, into second half by scoring another goal during the 82nd minute of the game off a penalty-kick. Junior Katie Thorlakson knocked the goal into the center of the goal, directly under the crossbar for the 2-0 lead and final margin.
Waldrum attributed the team’s success in the second half to its composure on the field and not losing focus after the first half.
“I think the most important thing is that you keep your game plan and maintain your composure, Waldrum said. “You just have to keep plugging away and getting those opportunities.”
In addition to the many opportunities the team had offensively, the Irish defense played a critical role in stopping Connecticut’s offense.
“[Defense] has been the cornerstone for us the past couple of years,” Waldrum said. “I think this could be one of the best backlines Notre Dame has ever had.”
In addition to the strong performances in the back by Melissa Tancredi and Gudrun Gunnarsdottir, sophomore Kim Lorenzen was a dominant presence for the Connecticut offense.
“She gives you so many weapons,” Waldrum said. “She is just a warrior. I think she is one of our best players and one that we can’t do without. And she is probably one of our more underrated ones.”
The Irish improved their all-time record in the NCAA tournament to 29-10-1. Notre Dame will now face the second highest seed left in the tournament, No. 5 Portland in the quarterfinals.
Heading into the next round, Notre Dame is the highest seed remaining in the tournament. Top-seeded North Carolina fell to Santa Clara 1-0 in the quarterfinals, No. 2 Penn State loss to Maryland 1-0 in the second round and No. 3 Virginia was upset by Duke 3-0 in the second round.
“I think even as short of a time period of eight to 10 years ago, it was still just Carolina, and it was a shock in some ways that they got knocked out this soon,” Waldrum said. “[But now] I think there are a lot of teams that can win it.”