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ND Women’s Soccer: Freshman flips over chance to contribute

Chris Khorey | Thursday, August 31, 2006

When Notre Dame forward Michele Weissenhofer was in elementary school, soccer wasn’t her favorite sport.

She preferred gymnastics.

Then Weissenhofer, who also played soccer, went to one of her mother’s recreational soccer games and found a way to combine the two sports. One of the players would do a handspring before a throw in, using her body as a catapult to fling the ball to the center of the field.

The seven-year-old Weissenhofer decided she wanted to learn, and set about doing flips and hurling soccer balls whenever she got the chance.

“I practiced it and got it down,” the 5-foot-4 freshman from Naperville, Ill. said. “I practiced it in the gymnastics gym and in my back yard a lot.”

Eleven years later, Weissenhofer’s flip-throw ins have already made an impact for the No. 5 Irish, earning her an assist on sophomore forward Kerri Hanks’ go-ahead goal in a 2-1 win against Ole Miss Sunday.

Weissenhofer’s throw lofted high in the air and made to the center of the penalty area, where senior midfielder Jill Krivacek headed to Hanks for the score.

Several of Weissenhofer’s throw-ins landed in the box in the Notre Dame’s 9-0 win Saturday over Iowa State, but none of them resulted in goals.

Flip throw-ins carry higher and farther than normal throw-ins, allowing teams to cross the ball into the box in the air without a defender right on the passer. Weissenhofer said this luxury, which usually only comes when a team attempts a corner kick, should lead to more goals in the future.

“It’s almost like a corner kick, so I definitely think it’ll be dangerous [throughout the season],” she said.

Weissenhofer scored the first two goals and tallied the first two assists of her collegiate career against the Cyclones in her first collegiate start.

The next day, she came off the bench to pepper the Rebel goal with four shots and earn an assist with her throw in.

Weissenhofer said she expects to play this weekend against Southern California Friday and No. 7 Santa Clara Sunday, but she is not sure whether she will start.

“[Irish head coach Randy Waldrum] always changes the lineups,” Weissenhofer said. “Nothing’s really set. I hope I start, but if I don’t, I know I’ll get in there and do my best.”

Both the Southern Cal and Santa Clara games will be at Alumni Field. The Trojans and Irish will kick off at 7:30 p.m. Friday, while Notre Dame will take on the Broncos Sunday at 1:00 p.m.