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ND WOMEN’S SOCCER: Up and down

Ken Fowler | Monday, October 3, 2005

The Irish took care of business Sunday, but Friday was another story for the No. 5 team in the country.

After taking a 1-0 lead on No. 15 Marquette, Notre Dame allowed four unanswered goals to the Golden Eagles, and the Irish suffered their first loss in Big East play since Oct. 6, 2002 – a 3-0 loss at the hands of West Virginia.

Marquette’s Alison Loughrin came off the bench for the Golden Eagles and scored the go-ahead goal for her team at 37:51. Loughrin got free at the top of the box and beat a charging Lauren Karas for the goal. Julie Thompson assisted on the score, which left Notre Dame trailing an opponent for only the second time all year. The Irish have lost both contests.

“From there, things snowballed on us,” Irish head coach Randy Waldrum said.

Karas started her sixth consecutive match in place of injured preseason All-Big East goalkeeper Erika Bohn. Karas had allowed just one goal in her previous five games, but would be victimized by Loughrin twice Friday.

Less than six minutes after staking her team a lead, Loughrin found pay dirt again, netting her sixth goal on the season on an assist from Meghan Connelly.

Loughrin was not the only star of the game for the Golden Eagles. The goalkeeping of Marquette goalie Laura Boyer prevented the Irish from mounting a comeback. Boyer saved 13-of-14 Irish shots on goal in a stellar performance.

Waldrum said Boyer’s play was impressive, but his team didn’t force her to make enough difficult saves.

“What she handled, she handled everything clean and didn’t give up any second chances,” he said. “[But] we didn’t make her have to do any quality work. Most of what she had to handle were just crosses coming in or soft shots – high balls to her. We didn’t really make her have to extend herself.”

The Irish needed to convert their shots because Marquette’s offense continued its attack in the second half. Julie Thompson scored 20 minutes into the second half to give Marquette a 4-1 lead, which would hold up as the final score.

The Irish opened the scoring at 20:01, with Brittany Bock and Kerri Hanks assisting on Jen Buczkowski’s fourth goal of the season. Bock delivered the ball up field to Hanks on the left side, and Hanks sent a cross through the box, where Buczkowsi trailed the play and nailed a one-timer for a 1-0 Irish lead.

Marquette tied the game five minutes later when Connelly scored an unassisted goal to make the score 1-1.

The Irish had several chances to regain the lead, and later tie the game, but Boyer and the Marquette defense held the nation’s leading-scoring team to just one goal on 24 shots.

Waldrum said that if the Irish converted on one of several opportunities early and taken a 2-1 lead or tied the game at 2-2, his team would have fared much better.

“If we get that second goal, I’m convinced we walk away winning that game,” he said.

“We had some missed opportunities that we could have taken the lead on. Every mistake we made, they pounced on.

“Once they believed they could hang with us and stay in the game, you could see their confidence growing.”

The Golden Eagles used that confidence and had a remarkably efficient night. They totaled a meager five shots, but converted all four shots on goal.

The four goals allowed were the most by an Irish team since allowing the same total to Georgetown in the 2002 season.

Notre Dame 4 South Florida 0

After nearly 20 hours of travel Saturday to get from Milwaukee, Wis., to Tampa, Fla., the Irish utilized almost their entire available roster to beat South Florida Sunday.

The Bulls kept the Irish off the board for the first 28 minutes but couldn’t stop senior forward Katie Thorlakson once she came off the bench for Notre Dame.

Waldrum said he tried to rest his players as much as possible because of the heat in Tampa and the extensive travel time the team accumulated the day before. He kept Thorlakson and Hanks on the bench to start the game and had Nikki Westfall start in goal for the first time of her career.

Westfall was successful for all 90 minutes for the Irish, saving all three of the Bulls’ shots on goal.

Thorlakson capitalized on an Amanda Cinalli pass in the box and netted her 15th career game-winning goal at 28:33, a shot to the right corner of the net.

She scored again 10 minutes later, this time assisted by Hanks.

“You know we got it from our leaders, that’s the response that we want,” Waldrum said of Thorlakson’s performance Sunday. “That’s where you hope you’ve got the leadership on the team.”

Waldrum was even happier that Thorlakson and the Irish did not slow down in the second half with the game out of reach.

At 85:57, Thorlakson found Susan Pinnick in good position in the left corner, and Pinnick netted her fourth goal of the season on a shot inside the near post.

The Irish defense played exceptional after the tough outing against Marquette. South Florida tried to attack, but Candace Chapman lead the back line and prevented the Bulls from getting good scoring opportunities.

Waldrum singled out Chapman as the Irish’s best player of the weekend on the road.

Waldrum said the strong defensive performance for all 90 minutes Sunday was crucial for the team to get back on track after its second loss of the season.

“It was really important to get a good solid win and keep the shutout,” Waldrum said. “The last thing we needed to do today, even if we won, is to give up a couple of goals.”

Westfall maintained the shutout in the second half, and the Irish cruised to a rebound victory.