ND Women’s Soccer: Cary Cruising
Chris Khorey | Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Freshman forward Michele Weissenhofer scored three goals as No. 1 Notre Dame beat No. 8 Penn State 4-0 Friday to propel the Irish into the national semifinals.
The Irish (24-0-1) will face Florida State, who came back to beat Clemson 2-1 in its quarterfinal, Friday in Cary, N.C. The winner of that game will take on the winner of UCLA and North Carolina in Sunday’s final.
It will be the fourth time in coach Randy Waldrum’s eight years at the helm that the Irish have gone to the Final Four.
The Irish and Lions played a scoreless first half Friday, with Notre Dame getting the majority of the chances and outshooting Penn State 13-3 before the break.
“We did everything but score,” sophomore forward Kerri Hanks said of the first half. “We just couldn’t buy one.”
The Irish finally found the back of the net eight minutes into the second half. Senior midfielder Jen Buczkowski sent a free kick into the box where Hanks flicked it to Weissenhofer for the score.
Barely two minutes later, the freshman scored again, this time on a rebound. Hanks sent a cross into the box which sophomore forward Brittany Bock settled. Bock then rocketed a shot toward Lions goalkeeper Kate Milstead. Milstead got a hand on the ball but Weissenhofer charged in to knock it past her into the goal.
“After we scored the second goal, you could see [Penn State] bow their heads,” Waldrum said. “You could see they knew they were in some trouble.”
The freshman knocked in another rebound to complete the hat trick. Hanks lofted a free kick toward the net and Milstead came out to play it and seemingly batted it away, but Weissenhofer one-timed it back past her for a 3-0 lead.
Weissenhofer let someone else score the final Irish goal – a diving header from senior midfielder Amanda Cinalli on a corner kick from Hanks.
The two goals off set piece plays by Hanks were the result of a recent change by Waldrum. The sophomore had taken corner kicks all year, but only recently started taking most long-distance free kicks.
“It’s hard to find players that can hit spots on the field consistently,” Waldrum said. “Kerri does that very well.”
Hanks credited the success of the move to her teammates being able to get to the ball once she sends it in.
“We’ve been working a lot on getting a head on it or getting a body on it,” she said.
The Irish played defense in the second half as well, not allowing a shot to the Lions after the break and finishing with a 27-3 advantage in shots and an 11-2 advantage in shots on goal.
Hanks’ three assists gave her a team-high 20 for the season to go along with 22 goals. Weissenhofer’s hat trick increased her scoring total to 18 goals and 17 assists.
u Hanks was named one of three finalists for the Hermann Award, given annually to college soccer’s best player.
“I didn’t really expect it because I’m so young,” the sophomore said. “There are a lot of other players out there that deserve an award like this.
“If I win it, I would gladly give it back in exchange for a national championship.”