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ND WOMEN’S SOCCER: Irish win first two games in NCAA tourney

Ken Fowler | Monday, November 14, 2005

Katie Thorlakson knows how to win in the NCAA Tournament.

The national player-of-the-year candidate and 2005 Big East offensive MVP led the Irish to victories in the first and second rounds of the NCAA Tournament this weekend with two goals and three assists.

Notre Dame 6, Valparaiso 0

Thorlakson scored or assisted on Notre Dame’s first three goals of a 6-0 victory over Valparaiso Friday.

Just 3:03 into the match, Amanda Cinalli knocked Thorlakson’s curving corner kick into the net to give the Irish a quick 1-0 edge over the Crusaders.

Thorlakson said she doesn’t feel any added pressure to reach certain statistical measures.

“My goal is to perform and try and win,” she said.

Notre Dame went nearly 40 minutes without another good scoring opportunity, but Thorlakson made the most of one late in the half with goal No. 17 on the season. She recovered the rebound of a Maggie Manning shot and hit the back right portion of the net to extend the Irish lead to 2-0 before the half.

“The last five to seven minutes of the first half, we got a little bit chaotic, a little disorganized,” Valparaiso coach Stephen Anthony said. “It took the wind out of our sails.”

Valparaiso came back with a strong start to the second half and forced Notre Dame into physical play early.

“I just was really impressed with their heart and their fight,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “They hung in there and fought.”

The Irish only cracked open the game after 15 minutes of tough play in the second half when second-semester freshman Kerri Hanks took a Thorlakson cross and tapped it in on the right side.

Less than three minutes later, Hanks maneuvered along the baseline and found Cinalli for another Irish tap-in, extending the Notre Dame lead to 4-0.

Freshman Brittany Bock scored her 10th goal of the year at 68:15 with a header into the upper right corner after a Maggie Manning cross and Jil Krivacek secondary assist.

With the Irish up 5-0, Waldrum substituted most of his reserves for starters and saw his second line add on a sixth goal against the Crusaders.

Susan Pinnick found Maggie Manning from the end line for a tap-in goal to give the Irish the 6-0 advantage that would stand as the final score.

Waldrum said Manning’s four-point night was indicative of how she played toward the end of the season.

“She came on, and just a few minutes after coming on, had a goal and an assist,” Waldrum said. “She’s a really intelligent player. She sees the game.”

Notre Dame 3, MSU 0

Thorlakson was back at her old tricks again Sunday, leading the Irish to a victory over the Spartans at a windy Alumni Field.

Michigan State contained the senior for much of the first half but couldn’t keep Notre Dame’s all-time leading postseason points scorer off the board too long.

Thorlakson got the assist on Notre Dame’s first goal after taking the ball in the left corner, faking right, going left and finding Hanks cutting to the goal. Thorlakson’s pass was right on line, and Hanks tapped the ball in to give the Irish a 1-0 lead.

Five minutes later, the Irish laid stake to a 2-0 advantage when Thorlakson took a pass from Annie Schefter on the right side, measured the goalkeeper and blasted a shot past Nicole Galas from the close right wing.

“We had our work cut out for us, and we knew that,” Michigan State coach Tom Saxton said. “Notre Dame has two of the best forwards in the country on their team, and it’s tough to play against that. … [Thorlakson] did her job today, and she’s a good one.”

Schefter added a goal of her own three minutes into the second half with a header to the left side of the net thanks to a cross by Cinalli.

“I thought considering the wind and the weather … I was fairly pleased with the way we played today,” Waldrum said.

Michigan State managed just one shot on goal, an attempt by Emily Weigand late in the second half. Lauren Karas, who replaced Erika Bohn in net in the second half, dove to her left and blocked the only true Spartan scoring opportunity of the afternoon.

With the win, the Irish advance to the round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament and face Yale at home on Friday.

Yale pulled off the upset of the day Sunday, stunning Duke with a 2-1 victory thanks to a goal by Laurel Karnes with less than one second remaining on the clock.

The Bulldogs are one of just three unseeded teams left in the tournament.