ND WOMEN’S SOCCER: Tough to get by goalie Bohn
Bobby Griffin | Monday, August 29, 2005
In 2004, Notre Dame won its second national championship in 10 years due in large part to its strong team defense for much of the season.
The Irish were able to dominate their opponents, limiting their scoring opportunities while putting up impressive offensive numbers of their own.
Lost in much of that was Erika Bohn, the goalkeeper for the Irish whose talented teammates virtually allowed her to sit back and watch many of the games.
That is, until the title game itself.
A 1-1 tie late in the final period was in jeopardy when UCLA had an opportunity to take the lead on a penalty kick. Bohn, who had not faced a penalty kick all season, was now faced with one of the most stressful situations in all of sports.
The rest is history.
Bohn deflected the shot, and Notre Dame went on to win the national championship game 1-1 (4-3 on penalty kicks).
“I think it really kind of took Erika to the next level,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said.
Entering this season, Bohn is hoping to take a lot of the momentum coming off last season and put it toward a successful 2005 campaign.
Following her impressive championship weekend, Bohn was named to the U.S. Under-21 National Team, one of only two goalkeepers to earn that recognition. Bohn’s team went on to win the Nordic Cup in Sweden.
That sort of recognition is not something that Bohn is necessarily used to.
Waldrum described the process of selecting players for All-Big East awards, and the difficulty that is presented when it comes to goalkeepers.
Like most things in competitive sports, statistics define how successful a player is with respect to those who play the same position. When a strong goalkeeper on a championship caliber team has her statistics compared to her contemporaries, the numbers often fall short because the goalkeeper on the weaker team is facing more shots.
And, by default, collects more saves.
“It seems like we’ve struggled over the years with our goalkeepers, because we’ve had such a great legacy of good goalkeepers, to get them recognized,” Waldrum said.
“Most of the keepers that are getting some of these awards, especially you’ll find it in our conference, are the ones that are giving up two or three goals a game, but they are handling 25 or 30 shots a game.”
But according to Waldrum, those types of individual achievements do not concern the quiet, mild-mannered Bohn.
“I think she would rather have the All-American status and the national championship ring,” Waldrum said. “I think she’s got her priorities placed well.”
Interestingly enough, Bohn has already been named the 2005 Big East preseason goalkeeper of the year despite the relative difficulty Waldrum described.
The Irish coach has been impressed with Bohn in the early stages of this season, notably when it comes to her conditioning and confidence.
“She looks the best physically that she’s looked in the four years that she’s been here,” Waldrum said. “She’s probably the healthiest she’s been since she’s been here. Mentally, her confidence is really soaring.”
And that confidence means more to the Irish than just her ability to stop shots.
Waldrum described Bohn when she first arrived at Notre Dame as a shy, quiet freshman who was nervous around her coaches and her new surroundings.
But as time progressed, Bohn – who by nature likes to lead by example – has started to understand her role a bit more.
“She’s starting to come around and become more vocal,” Waldrum said. “She’s starting to command a little more and be a little bit more demanding. Those are the things you want with a goalkeeper.
“I think there’s just a lot of respect for her as a person and I think that translates to some leadership with her as well.”
It is no secret that the Irish have unlimited firepower on offense, as was made evident in last weekend’s victories over New Hampshire and Vermont.
The defense wants to continue to be solid, eating up offensive chances as quickly as they are presented.
And with a confident, eager Bohn returning in goal, the Irish just might have what it takes to prove that last year was only the beginning of something very special.