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Women’s Soccer: Notre Dame can’t rekindle 2004 magic, falls in quarters

Ken Fowler | Friday, May 19, 2006

A year after capturing their second-ever national championship, the Irish couldn’t find a way to top Portland in a national quarterfinal in Oregon that pitted the nation’s top scorers over the past two years against each other.

“The first 10 or 15 minutes, we were all over them,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said after the game. “We had a couple great chances to score. … The thing that really deflated us is the first time they got down, they scored, and it was a long-range shot that [Irish goalkeeper] Erika [Bohn] typically handles pretty comfortably.”

Notre Dame and Katie Thorlakson lost the game to Portland and Christine Sinclair 3-1. And two months later, Thorlakson finished second again to Sinclair, this time at the Hermann Trophy presentation for the top NCAA player.

But the season was not without its accomplishments for the Irish.

Notre Dame captured its first postseason Big East title in five years with a dominating 5-0 victory over Connecticut in the Big East Championship in Milwaukee, Wisc.

The season began with second-semester freshman Kerri Hanks entering the college spotlight in brilliant fashion. Hanks scored three goals in Notre Dame’s season-opening win over New Hampshire. Then she netted four in game two, a 6-0 victory over Vermont.

Hanks scored her eighth goal of the season in her third game – a 4-1 Irish victory over then No. 13 Florida – and two more against Maryland two days later to finish her first four games with 10 goals.

For her part, Thorlakson had had five goals and seven assists in the four games. Both Thorlakson and Hanks finished the season with 71 points, one short of the Notre Dame single-season record.

The Irish suffered their first defeat of the season at Santa Clara on Sept. 9 but went until Sept. 30 before losing again – a 4-1 defeat at Marquette in front of 2,034 boisterous fans.

But Notre Dame found its grove and entered the Big East tournament on a seven-game winning streak that included a 4-0 home win over the Huskies.

The Irish beat Georgetown 6-0 in the first round of the conference tournament, then avenged the loss to Marquette with a 3-0 victory in the semifinals at Valley Field in Milwaukee, Wisc.

The blanking of Connecticut continued a streak of three straight shutouts that would continue into the NCAA Tournament.

Notre Dame opened the Tournament with a 6-0 win over Purdue in the first round at Alumni Field. A 3-0 victory over Michigan State followed to cap Notre Dame’s shutout streak at five postseason games.

The Irish then met Yale, which had shocked Duke the week before in the second round of the tournament.

“I think that Yale is a team that a lot of people are underestimating,” senior Irish midfielder Annie Schefter said before the contest. “And I think they are looking forward to proving everyone wrong.”

But Notre Dame’s relentless attack proved too much for the Bulldogs. Hanks scored twice, and junior Christie Shaner, sophomore Amanda Cinalli and freshman Brittany Bock all added goals.

The Irish then traveled to Portland, with the winner earning a trip to the College Cup in College Station, Tex. Portland quashed Notre Dame’s dreams of a repeat championship and captured the national championship a week later.

“As some time goes by, we’ll look at and feel like it was a really successful season,” Waldrum said after the game. “It’s tough because I still think that we were good enough to win again.”