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Entire team plays a role in championship season for Notre Dame

Dan Tapetillo | Monday, December 6, 2004

CARY, N.C. – Sure they had national player of the year candidates. Sure, they had two players who were asked to play for their respective countries. But there were no “stars” on this Notre Dame team.Sunday’s final against UCLA was to be the culmination of an entire season of selfless play.During the NCAA final, the Irish found themselves trailing the Bruins 1-0 with 22 minutes remaining in regulation. The tally was scored off an own-goal, a UCLA goal scored by Notre Dame. Did the Irish panic? No. Did the team rely solely upon Hermann Trophy player-of-the-year candidates Katie Thorlakson and Melissa Tancredi to pull them out? No.It took 90 minutes of regulation and two overtimes of selfless play, four penalty kick goals and a bench ready to step up at any given time, but the Irish got the 1-1, 4-3 penalty kick win. And with it came a national title.To begin the Irish comeback, Thorlakson took advantage of a penalty kick to tie the score 1-1. The team then looked to goalie Erika Bohn to step up. She blocked a potential game-winning penalty kick from the Bruins with 5:09 remaining.After the tremendous save by Bohn, it was forward Candace Chapman’s turn. She kicked a ball inches away from entering the goal, preventing UCLA’s dream of a national title.After showing impressive teamwork to pull the team back into contention of the victory, the deciding factor came down to penalty kicks.However, after Thorlakson failed to convert the first attempted penalty kick into a goal, the Irish did not breakdown. Instead, they relied upon Sarah Halpenny, a player who only totaled 108 minutes of playing time this season. Her last appearance was Nov. 12 in the first round of the NCAA tournament against Eastern Illinois. She didn’t falter, hitting her penalty kick.But it wasn’t just Halpenny, either. It took goals from Jen Buczkowski, Annie Schefter and Jill Krivacek to secure the win in addition to the six saves Bohn made throughout the contest, including two saved penalty shots. But it wasn’t just the unselfish play of Sunday’s final that brought Notre Dame the national title. This team relied upon every individual every game throughout the entire season.In the first game of the season against Baylor, the Irish expected big things from their veterans. However, it was freshman forward Amanda Cinalli who proved to be pivotal in the win with two goals and an assist. The team even depended upon Tancredi, the Big East defender of the year, to score the game-winning shot against No. 11 Arizona State.It wasn’t always the players who could earn the end-of-the-season awards or scored the game-winning shots. Irish coach Randy Waldrum has stressed throughout the season the importance of unsung heroes such as Annie Schefter, Kim Lorenzen and Claire Gallerano, who are all necessary components to a championship-winning program. After a season of continuous dedication and unselfish play, the Irish finally earned their ultimate goal of claiming the national title.And just like they had the entire season, it wasn’t just one player who made it happen.

The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.Contact Dan Tapetillo at jtapetil@nd.edu