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Taming the Wolverines

Bobby Griffin | Monday, September 19, 2005

After losing to Santa Clara last weekend in California, the Irish sent a very clear message to every team in the country this weekend – one loss will not slow them down.

The Irish dominated DePaul Friday night and beat Michigan Sunday, outscoring their opponents 9-0 combined.

“I think it sends a message around the country that the loss doesn’t affect us and that we’re still there,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said.

On Friday night, the Irish came out fired up in their first Big East conference game of the season and defeated the Blue Demons 6-0 in a game that Notre Dame controlled from the beginning. Familiar faces led the way.

Kerry Hanks and Katie Thorlaskon each scored twice and had two assists apiece.

The scoring got underway early at 8:51 when Thorlakson scored her seventh goal of the season, beating goaltender Sarah West off a pass from Annie Schefter.

At 13:03, Hanks found Amanda Cinalli, who fired a shot past DePaul goaltender Sarah West, jumping out to a quick 2-0 lead.

The scoring didn’t stop there, as Notre Dame continued to pile it on against its new Big East opponents.

Roughly three minutes later at 16:24, Thorlakson took a Hanks rebound and beat West for her second goal of the game. Hanks was credited with the assist.

Jen Buczkowski scored the fourth goal of the game at 26:10, taking a West deflection and putting it in the back of the net.

The second half was much of the same, with Hanks scoring her 12th and 13th goals of the season within two minutes of each other, at 48:59 and 50:43.

Waldrum was pleased with his team’s performance Friday, especially in the context of getting its first conference win of the season.

“I think the conference is such a good conference now that you can’t really take anyone for granted,” Waldrum said. “In games that we feel like we should win, you want to make sure you’re winning it and getting a handle on it.”

On Sunday, the Irish came right back and knocked off the No. 20 Wolverines in a game in which, like Friday, Notre Dame established its superiority from the beginning.

Michigan only had three shots on goal the entire game, and the Irish killed many of the scoring chances the Wolverines had with strong defensive play.

Their strong defense seemed to bring out the worst in Michigan, who tried to take the Irish out of the game by getting into their heads. This resulted in a Christie Shaner yellow card at 85:53 when the game was very much out of Michigan’s reach.

Goaltender Lauren Karas and Hanks also received yellow cards in the game.

“I thought defensively we were really good today,” Waldrum said. “I think if there was any disappointment, it was some of the stuff that happened in the second half. A team like that, that’s the only way they can take you out of the game.

“You don’t want to be backing down from teams, you want to send that message, so physically you want to do that. But at the same time you want to be smart enough too so that you don’t get a player ejected.”

Thorlakson agreed with her coach but was not surprised at what transpired on the field.

“We’re gonna face that all year,” Thorlakson said. “Teams are gonna look for a way to [beat us], and that’s a strategy that some teams are gonna take.”

Notre Dame started off slow, missing an early scoring opportunity when Thorlakson missed left after beating a defender, but Notre Dame responded quickly thereafter.

At 22:10, Thorlakson booted a corner kick towards the net, and Jen Buczkowski took a setup from Christie Shaner and headed it into the net.

Notre Dame continued applying pressure with the 1-0 lead, creating scoring opportunities while Michigan was forced to play a defensive game.

Maggie Manning made it a two-goal contest at 36:14 when she beat Wolverines’ goaltender Megan Tuura on a shot from the left side. Thorlakson and Brittany Bock assisted on the goal.

The game was put out of reach at 71:38 when Susan Pinnick put the ball in the back of the net for her third goal of the season.

Much like two weekends ago against Maryland, Notre Dame missed on several scoring opportunities, but Waldrum was not concerned with that aspect of the game.

“I’m not at a point where we are worried about that now. I think its just the nature of the game,” Waldrum said. “I think the thing that were doing that on the outside many people look at it and say that they should worry that they didn’t finish enough of their chances. If you look at our team we’re actually I think leading the nation in goals scored per game.

“I would worry more if we weren’t creating the opportunities that I am about not finishing.”

After Sunday’s game, Waldrum spoke about the way the Irish season has gone thus far, and is comfortable with the current direction that the team is heading in.

“We’re on track of where we need to be,” Waldrum said. “I’d be worried if we were peaking right now, it’s a little early for that but I think we’re playing really well.”

It was also important for the Irish to respond with a strong performance this weekend, proving the loss last weekend is a distant memory.

“That was unlucky last weekend,” Thorlakson said. “This weekend we were just building on our confidence that we had all season. Sometimes it just doesn’t go our way.”

After the dominance the Irish displayed against DePaul and Michigan, it was clear that this weekend, it did.

Notes:

u Waldrum spoke after the Michigan game about the Notre Dame-Michigan rivalry and the type of attitude that it brings to the game’s atmosphere.

“Its kinda like football,” he said. “I guess it’s the same rivalry just being so close and the two institutions having such tradition. I think that translates into all of our sports here.”

The Wolverines spoiled the Irish 2003 season, ending Notre Dame’s undefeated run and then knocking them out of the NCAA tournament in the span of roughly two weeks.

“I think that was a motivation last year for the kids, and then this year especially getting them back home,” he said. “I think the motivation is always there with Michigan.”