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ND Women’s Soccer: Clean sweep

TIM DOUGHERTY AND CHRIS KHOREY | Monday, September 4, 2006

After sparking a second-half firestorm in Sunday’s 3-1 win over Santa Clara (3-1) at Alumni Field, Notre Dame junior striker Amanda Cinalli may have helped her team keep a more important light display – the one on top of Grace Hall.

Both teams entered the match with a No. 1 ranking this week by different polls, but the Inn at Saint Mary’s Classic offensive MVP Cinalli and her two-goal, one-assist second-half show solidified Notre Dame’s claim to the top spot.

Coming off a 2-0 win over No. 19 Southern Cal (2-1) Friday night, the Irish (4-0) created opportunities early on and controlled possession, but could not find the net.

Twelve minutes in, the Broncos’ all-tournament striker freshman Kiki Bosio beat defender Christie Shaner to the middle of the field, before finding junior striker Meagan Snell in the middle of the box, who slid her shot by keeper Lauren Karas for the first goal of the game.

Despite several direct kicks just outside the box before halftime by sophomore striker Kerri Hanks, the Broncos took their 1-0 lead into halftime.

“There were a couple of things we addressed at half,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “We had to change our mentality. We gave the ball away too much.”

To spark the offense, Waldrum moved Shaner to the middle to replace defender Amanda Clark. By the suggestion of his son and assistant coach Ben Waldrum, Clark switched to defensive midfield to take the place of senior Jill Krivacek who moved to offensive midfield in the 4-4-3 set. Entering the game to replace Shaner’s spot on the outside was freshman Haley Ford, as freshman midfielder Courtney Rosen – who is still battling the injury bug – left the game.

The moves helped strengthen a defense that Waldrum felt gave up too many scoring opportunities in the first half. Shaner’s headers kept Santa Clara’s air attack from reaching the goal.

The moves also led to the first Irish goal. With 26 minutes left in action, Cinalli attacked open space in the middle before dishing to a wide-open Krivacek, who two- touched from just inside the box to the upper right corner out of the reach of sophomore Santa Clara keeper Megan McCray.

Five minutes later, freshman Michel Weissenhofer lined a cross to an exposed back post for the lunging leg of Cinalli to redirect into the goal. Cinalli saved her best for last, though, scoring her second goal of the game less than 4 minutes later after outmaneuvering several defenders in succession and firing a left-footed rocket to the upper right corner to cap off the Irish scoring.

“In the first half they kind of dominated us in the air,” Cinalli said after the game. “Our entire team decided we have to keep each other accountable, play together and play with a lot of heart. That was important for us.”

Though disappointed in Notre Dame’s first half play, Waldrum was pleased with the players’ ability to rededicate themselves at halftime and storm back. Though Bosio – who Waldrum compared to former Irish great Amy Warner – was the offensive fireplug of the Bronco offense throughout the day, the Irish were able to contain her in the second half.

“As early as the season is, I’ve liked this team and compared it to the ’04 team,” Waldrum said. “That year we had 10 games or so where we came from behind or won it in the last few minutes of the game. Today to be down to such a good team like that could be a big game for us down the road – to come back and win and play so well in the second half and turn things around.”

The win marked the 31st consecutive Irish home win, as this weekend Notre Dame won its third and fourth straight contests against a 2005 NCAA Tournament team.

Friday against USC, the Irish controlled possession for most of the first half, but didn’t find the back of the net until the fourteenth minute of the second half, when Weissenhofer lofted her patented flip throw-in into the box that Clark redirected past Trojan junior goalie Veronica Simonton for her first career goal.

Twelve minutes later, Weissenhofer got another chance at a long throw in and, after losing the ball on her first attempt, lofted another perfect pass into the penalty area and into the goal – this time off the foot of Cinalli.

The ball spent most of the first half in the Southern Cal end of the field as Notre Dame peppered Simonton with several scoring chances, but couldn’t find the back of the net.

“It was a little frustrating,” Waldrum said. “I thought the work rate and the competitiveness the kids had was great, but we needed to finish on the offensive end. We lacked sharpness in the final third [of the field].”

Late in the first half, the Irish had four corner kicks in the space of under a minute, but Notre Dame couldn’t score on any of them.

Notes:

u Team USA’s Carrie Dew and Brittany Bock are expected to rejoin the team early this week after finishing up the U-20 World Championships.

u Karas recorded a career- high nine saves Sunday after earning the shutout Friday. She had been battling freshman Kelsey Lysander for the starting spot.