ND Women’s Soccer: The comforts of home
TIM DOUGHERTY AND CHRIS KHOREY | Monday, October 9, 2006
No. 1 Notre Dame just keeps on winning.
The Irish (13-0, 6-0 Big East) moved into first place in the Big East’s National Division with a 5-0 win over Seton Hall Friday and a 2-0 victory over Rutgers Sunday at Alumni Field.
“The last two weekends we’ve really started to come into our own,” Notre Dame coach Randy Waldrum said. “Before we were playing well enough to win, but now I think we’re playing up our potential.”
The Scarlet Knights (11-2-1, 5-1-1 Big East) came into Sunday’s game in first place in the National Division by one point, thanks mainly to having played one more game than the Irish. Sunday’s victory moved Notre Dame into the top spot, but sophomore forward Kerri Hanks downplayed the achievement.
“As long as we’re winning, that’s all that’s important right now,” she said.
Waldrum said he was impressed by Rutgers and expects to see the team again in the conference tournament.
“They’ll be right there at the end in the Big East standings,” he said.
The Irish outshot the Scarlet Knights 31-3 and had 10 of those shots on target to Rutgers’ none. Since allowing a score against West Virginia Sept. 29, the Irish have allowed just two shots on goal.
“[Our back four have] really started to gel and come together,” Waldrum said. “I don’t keep tracks of streaks or shot totals, but I know our keepers haven’t had much to do in the last couple of games.”
Senior defender Christie Shaner credited the defensive success to chemistry.
“A lot of that comes from the great leadership that we have in the back,” she said.
Sophomore forward Brittany Bock opened the scoring for Notre Dame, taking a centering pass from Hanks and drilling it past Rutgers keeper Erin Guthrie in the 35th minute of the first half.
Early in the second half, junior forward Amanda Cinalli extended the lead to 2-0. Taking a similar pass from Hanks, she blasted a shot into the corner barely three minutes after the break.
Although the Irish scored considerably less than the five goals they had put up in their previous two contests, Waldrum was happy with the offensive effort against a Scarlet Knights squad that had allowed just four goals all season coming into the matchup.
“You worry about these Sunday games, being tired, but I thought we played with great energy today,” he said.
Notre Dame 5, Seton Hall 0
Hanks helped No. 1 Notre Dame jump ahead of Seton Hall early with two first half goals before adding another score and an assist en route to an Irish win.
Hanks’ two first half goals marked the most the Irish had scored since netting six during a 9-0 win in the season opener against Iowa State.
Eighteen minutes in, Bock received a pass from senior midfielder Jill Krivacek just outside the 18-yard box. With her back to the net, Bock danced around her defender and found Hanks screaming down the left side before smashing a low left-footed shot past Pirate keeper Amanda Becker for the first score.
“The last week and a half we’ve been working with [Bock] on [playing with her back to the goal],” Waldrum said. “She’s just so good at holding the ball. You saw it on the first goal how she screened her player. She made a great play to get Hanks in there.”
Krivacek hooked up Hanks six minutes later, sending a ball just between two Pirate defenders that the forward tracked down and slipped underneath a charging Becker.
Given Notre Dame’s second biggest first-half lead this year and a boisterous crowd of 3,000 plus, the game was never in doubt. In addition to a strong show of support from O’Neill Hall, the Irish received a boost of noise from Goshen College men’s soccer coach Tavi Mounsithiraj and his players, who brought drums and organized chants to energize the crowd.
It certainly energized Hanks, who added her third score of the game and an assist minutes into the second half.
In the 55th minute senior midfielder Jen Buczkowski sent a cross to the back post, where Hanks put a leg on it and redirected it just inside the near post. Minutes later, Buczkowski crossed another gem to Hanks, who passed it off to freshman forward Michele Weissenhofer in the box, who touched it past Becker.
Coming off a two-goal, one-assist game last Sunday against Pittsburgh, Hanks was excited to put together another productive performance for her team.
“It’s just awesome not only to score but to win,” she said. “Just for our team to succeed and for us to keep winning keep being number one, we want to continue having this number one ranking, so when it comes to [the tournament] we can play at home as long as possible.”
Freshman midfielder Courtney Rosen saw her first action since suffering a foot injury in Notre Dame’s 3-1 victory over Santa Clara seven games ago, creating four shots, though none found the net. Waldrum said he was pleased with her play considering the time she has missed.
Buczkowski capped the scoring in the 66th minute, placing an upper shelf shot over the reach of the keeper from 18 yards out.
u Among the Goshen-led cheers were chants for various people to “do a dance,” which included the entire Irish team after the game. Despite an invitation, Waldrum refused.
“I told them if we win the national championship then I’ll dance,” he said.
u Sunday’s game, which was played before just over 3,000 people, was the last regular season home game for the Irish. Notre Dame has four more regular season games before the Big East and NCAA Tournaments, both of which might include contests at Alumni Field.
u The Irish will return to action next week, traveling to UConn on Friday and Providence on Sunday.