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Women’s Soccer: Sunday slaughter

Ken Fowler | Monday, November 7, 2005

MILWAUKEE, Wisc. РKatie Thorlakson finally added a postseason Big East Championship to her r̩sum̩.

The two-time conference offensive player of the year, who also picked up national player of the year honors last season from three soccer publications, led the No. 5 Irish Sunday to a 5-0 victory over rival Connecticut for Notre Dame’s first conference tournament victory since 2001.

“I was getting to the point where it never thought it was going to happen,” the senior said. “It’s good [and] it’s good that we won so handily.”

In front of just 418 fans at blustery Valley Fields on the campus of Marquette University, Thorlakson secured tournament offensive MVP honors with two assists and a corner kick to set up another Irish goal against the No. 15 Huskies.

With 20 minutes remaining in the first half, Thorlakson sent a corner kick from the right side that drifted back towards the net amidst the heavy Milwaukee wind. Connecticut goalie Stephanie Labbe blocked junior Christie Shaner’s one-time header, but freshman Brittany Bock found the net on the rebound to give the Irish a 2-0 advantage with 19:17 remaining in the first half.

“It was hard because the wind’s really high today, so I was just trying to put it up a little higher because I know Shaner can out-jump pretty much anyone,” Thorlakson said.

Notre Dame, whose victory extended its winning streak to 224 games when it takes a 2-0 lead, remained aggressive even with the early advantage. The Irish bench kept the first line’s quick tempo and forced Connecticut to play on its heels all 90 minutes.

Irish head coach Randy Waldrum said Notre Dame’s talent on its second line makes it more like a hockey second line than the usual soccer substitution.

“I think you could see today our depth came on and did a great job for us,” Waldrum said. “Those kids, any [time] … we’ve changed them, we haven’t skipped a beat.”

Freshman standout Kerri Hanks extended the Irish lead to three and picked up goal No. 24 on the season – a new Irish freshman record – with a tap-in of a Thorlakson cross 20:15 into the second half.

Thorlakson said she was not surprised she and Hanks combined for the goal.

“That was like the fourth replay of what that play could have been,” she said. “It happened three other times right before that, and it just wasn’t happening for us. At least we were creating the opportunities and [put] it in.”

After surrendering its third goal, Connecticut regrouped and tried to mount an offensive attack to cut into the Irish lead.

But the Irish defense, led by Kim Lorenzen and Candace Chapman, prevented the Huskies from capitalizing on their chances. Despite controlling the ball for most of a 10-minute stretch in the middle of the second half, Connecticut failed to sustain a prolonged attack deep in the Irish zone.

Lorenzen redirected several crosses from her position at the center of the defense, and Chapman, the right back, marked the Connecticut forwards closely on her side of the field.

Waldrum said Chapman’s ability to sustain a high energy of play for the entire game gives the Irish a decided advantage.

“I think she’s kind of found her rhythm again as the outside back … after playing up front for us last year,” Waldrum said. “She’s just so composed and she’s just such a weapon coming out of the back.”

The Irish offense complemented the team’s defense in the second half, cashing in on opportunities it gained after the defense forced Connecticut turnovers.

Senior forward Maggie Manning scored her eighth goal of the year to give Notre Dame a 4-0 lead with 17 minutes remaining in the game. Thorlakson led Manning with a long pass to the right before Manning converted a one-on-one opportunity past a lunging Labbe.

Less than four minutes later, Susan Pinnick gave the Irish the 5-0 lead that would stand as the game’s final score. Pinnick took a pass from Amanda Cinalli, faked left and netted her sixth goal of the season on the right side.

Notre Dame 3, Marquette 0

Notre Dame earned a spot in the title game with a 3-0 semifinal victory over Marquette Friday night in a redemption game for the Irish.

The Golden Eagles embarrassed Notre Dame earlier this year with a 4-1 drubbing at Valley Field but had little success mounting an attack Friday.

Waldrum said the team’s success Friday was a result of postseason experience rather than revenge as motivation.

“You can’t put all your energy into thinking about a revenge game and things like that,” Waldrum said. “We’ve been in this situation of pressure-packed postseason games so many times, and our players know what it takes to perform at a high level when it matters the most.”

The healthy and rested Irish, playing with junior defender Lorenzen, dominated the game from start to finish.

Lorenzen, who sat out both Irish losses this year for health reasons, centered the defense against Marquette and stifled the Golden Eagles’ attack.

Waldrum said the presence of Lorenzen in the center of the backfield altered the course of Friday’s game compared to the teams’ previous meeting.

“We didn’t make the excuses because of the injuries [after the loss],” Waldrum said. “[But] we weren’t quite the way we would normally be on our back line [without Lorenzen].”

With Notre Dame’s 3-0 victory Friday and 5-0 shutout Sunday, the Irish are now 15-0-0 in games in which Lorenzen starts, with a 76-3 goal advantage in those contests.

On the offensive side, Thorlakson opened the scoring for Notre Dame at 31:13 with goal No. 16 of the season for the senior.

Jen Buczkowski, who was named conference midfielder of the year at the Big East awards banquet Thursday, assisted on Thorlakson’s goal and scored one of her own 9:44 into the second half.

Hanks reached the 60-point milestone in Notre Dame’s 20th game just 10 minutes later. With assists from Annie Schefter and Lizzie Reed, the freshman tied Anne Makinen’s team record of 23 goals in her freshman season and sealed the game for the Irish.

Notes:

u With Thorlakson’s second assist, she and Hanks became just the fourth duo of teammates in NCAA history with 60 points each in a season. Thorlakson (16G-28A) said she takes more pride in their accomplishments as a tandem than in her individual stats.

“I love playing with her,” Thorlakson said of Hanks. “It’s great that we can put those numbers up together.”

u Notre Dame scored three or more goals for the eighth straight game Sunday and extended its winning streak to 10 since its September loss to Marquette. The eight straight games of three or more goals ties a school record.

“We’ve been good offensively all year,” Waldrum said. “We’ve got a lot of weapons if we can get them all clicking at the same time.”

u With the two weekend victories, Notre Dame avenged losses to the only two Big East teams to defeat the Irish since 2003. The Irish fell to the Huskies in the 2004 conference title game, 2-1.