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ND Women’s Soccer: Irish advance to quarters

Joe Meixell | Monday, November 20, 2006

Sophomore forward Brittany Bock struck gold with both her foot and her head Friday to lead No. 1 Notre Dame over No. 16 Colorado 3-0 in the NCAA Sweet 16 match at Alumni Field.

After playing evenly with Colorado for the first 15 minutes, Bock took a pass from senior midfielder Jill Krivacek, turned to the goal and fired a rocket from 25 yards out that sailed by Buffalos keeper Kirstin Radlinski. Irish coach Randy Waldrum watched in admiration as he stood on the sidelines.

“I thought Brittany tonight had a great game for us,” Waldrum said, “and I think the first goal she scored was world class.”

But the Irish didn’t stand by idly after Bock’s first goal, kicking their intensity up a notch for the rest of the match and outshooting the Buffalos 26-5.

In the 34th minute, Bock used her head to place a Kerri Hanks corner in the right corner of the net to take a 2-0 lead – marking the 245th straight game Notre Dame has won after reaching that point. Bock’s header was the 11th she’s knocked in for a goal out of her 23 career scores.

“I’m very aggressive up in the air so any chance I can get to get my head on it I do,” Bock said. “I always feel the ball is going come right to me and I’m going to find the goal. That’s my mentality.”

The Irish kept their lead thanks to strong defensive play by the backline. Senior defender Christie Shaner returned to the field after missing both of last weekend’s contests, providing an aggressive presence in her 26 minutes – an attitude the Irish defense missed in Notre Dame’s second round 1-0 victory over Wisconsin-Milwaukee a week earlier.

After the game, Shaner said she had been held out the last two weeks after contracting meningitis, which forced her to stay away from the team and at the hospital for three and a half days. She said she didn’t know if she was going to be able to play until Friday.

“It felt good to get my legs back from under me,” Shaner said. “Even though I haven’t been practicing, [I wanted to] get a few minutes in at a time and try to get healthy this next week because I’d like to be on the field as long as I can.”

Her backliners probably didn’t catch her virus, but her attitude was contagious. Notre Dame limited Colorado freshman forward phenom Nikki Marshall – who entered the game with 17 goals – to just one shot. Central defender freshman Haley Ford took the ball off Buffalo strikers’ feet, helping to fortify a defensive unit already missing Big East Defensive Player of the Year Carrie Dew, who tore her ACL three weeks ago.

In the second half, Hanks followed her assist with her national-best 22nd goal in the 89th minute, curving a direct kick into the upper corner of the net from 25 yards out for her fourth goal of the NCAA Tournament after a hat trick in the 7-1 opening win over Oakland (Mich.).

After Notre Dame squeaked by Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Friday’s game went a long way to rebuild Irish momentum as they prepare this week for their final home game of the year Friday against Penn State at 7:30 at Alumni Field. A win will vault the Irish back to the Final Four.

“We talked about our outside backs dealing with the wide players, and I thought we did a good job with that,” Waldrum said. “I think [midfielders] Jill [Krivacek], [Jen Buczkowski] and Amanda Cinallli were determined they weren’t going to have another performance like that. And I thought all three were very good for us settling the ball and calming things down.

Waldrum also said he was “extremely pleased” with Notre Dame’s intensity coming into the game.

“I [said] during the week I’d be shocked if we didn’t come out and play well, and I felt the girls came out with a really good focus,” he said.