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ND WOMEN’S SOCCER: Irish smoke field in Classic

Ken Fowler | Monday, August 29, 2005

Looking to start Notre Dame’s national championship defense on the right foot, second-semester freshman Kerri Hanks and senior forward Katie Thorlak-son led the Irish to an 11-1 victory over New Hampshire Friday in the first of two weekend games of the Nike Classic at the University of Vermont.

Hanks became just the second player in school history to score three goals in her first regular-season game with the team. Seven minutes into the second half, she netted her third goal in just over 13 minutes of playing time to complete the natural hat trick.

“Its not something you can expect week in and week out,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said of Hanks’ feat, but “these are the things we saw in her [in the recruiting process] … and expected Kerri to do for us from time to time.”

Her final two goals were assisted by Thorlakson, who compiled eight points on the night.

“[Hanks] is just a lot like Katie Thorlakson in that they have a great sense for the game,” Waldrum said.

“She got put in some great positions for a couple of her goals [by] her teammates, … and she is great at putting herself in the right position at the right time.”

Thorlakson scored twice and added four assists for her third career eight-plus point performance.

Her first goal came at the 12:45 mark of the first half, giving the Irish a 1-0 lead to open the game. A perfect pass from Amanda Cinalli opened up a one-on-one for Thorlakson against New Hampshire goalie Julie Randall.

After New Hampshire’s Ashlee Cieslak capitalized on an Irish defensive miscommunication five minutes later, Thorlakson and Hanks assisted on Susan Pinnick’s decisive goal at 29:40.

From there, the Irish played possession soccer, controlling the ball for long stretches at a time. They dominated time of possession so much that New Hampshire only managed one shot all game -Cieslak’s early goal.

The win gave the Irish six consecutive opening-day victories under Waldrum. His only defeat came in 1999 at the hands of perennial powerhouse North Carolina.

This time, the team’s 22 shots on goal paved the way for a decisive victory.

“We’ve really got a lot of weapons to start a good attack,” he said.

Freshman Brittany Bock added two goals for the Irish in her first official contest with the team.

“She’s an offensive weapon,” Waldrum said, “and [she] gives us a physical presence, going up in the air [for 50-50’s].”

Senior forward Maggie Manning also added a goal and two assists for four points on the night. Cinalli netted a goal and two assists for the Irish.

Notre Dame 6, Vermont 0

With her second straight stellar performance to begin her Irish career, Kerri Hanks led the Irish to a solid victory over Vermont Sunday.

After scoring three goals on Friday, Hanks upped the ante Sunday, netting four more goals for a total of seven in her first two collegiate games.

What’s more, Hanks scored the first three goals of the game in a 20-minute span, for her second consecutive game with a natural hat trick.

Coach Waldrum had only superlatives to say about Hanks’ performance.

“I don’t know how that ranks in terms of freshman performances on a weekend,” he said, “but it’s definitely up there in the record books.”

That it was, as Hanks became just the second freshman in Irish history to record hat tricks in consecutive games, and the first to do so in her first two contests.

After the game, she was presented with the Nike Classic’s offensive MVP award for her 15-point (7G-1A) performance.

Not only did Notre Dame shine with possession of the ball, but the Irish stymied the opposing offense for the second consecutive game.

Irish goalkeeper Erika Bohn, the tournament’s defensive MVP. needed to make just one save thanks to a suffocating defensive performance.

The game was marked by steady play by a slew of Irish starters and reserves, as the coaching staff looked to mix and match the lineups to find what combinations of players worked best together.

Despite Waldrum’s admission that the strategy may have “hurt continuity a little bit,” the Irish still managed 18 shots, including Brittany Bock’s third goal of the weekend.

“We played her [Bock] at a couple different places,” Waldrum said, “and we’re just trying to find again where she should play and with what players.”

Though the Irish won both games convincingly, Waldrum said that the team still had areas that needed substantial improvement.

“We weren’t quite ever in sync but I’d probably be a little worried if we were,” he said. “It’s going to be a long battle in the year, and we want to peak at the right time.”

The next several games may be one such time to peak, as the team faces what Waldrum calls a “tremendously difficult stretch of games” over the next two weeks.

The Irish face Florida and Maryland at home in the Inn at Saint Mary’s Notre Dame Classic next weekend, then go on the road to face perennial powerhouse Santa Clara and Gonzaga in the SCU Adidas Classic Sept. 9 and 11.