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Irish Update: Winner take all

Chris Khorey | Friday, December 1, 2006

CARY, N.C. – Notre Dame scored twice in as many minutes late in the first half, then held off a furious Florida State comeback attempt to win a 2-1 thriller Friday at SAS Soccer Park here Friday and advance to the College Cup final against North Carolina Sunday at 12:30 on ESPN2. The Irish (25-0-1) and Tar Heels (26-1-0) are tied for No. 1 in the polls.

“We’re thrilled to have won and very excited about playing Carolina on Sunday,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “That’s probably the matchup everybody wanted to see.”

Notre Dame freshman midfielder Courtney Rosen put the Irish up 1-0 with nine minutes left in the first half. Rosen, who had come into the game for fellow freshman Michele Weissenhofer five minutes before, took a pass on the right flank, juked a defender and rocketed a shot past Florida State goalie Ali Mims.

“I heard [Mims] was a little tentative with the ball in the air,” Rosen said. “So I was like, ‘Why not?’ and I let it fly.”

The goal was Rosen’s second of her career.

The Irish scored again barely two minutes later, with a corner kick by sophomore Kerri Hanks landing right on the head of sophomore Brittany Bock, who knocked the ball toward senior Jill Krivacek. Krivacek and a Seminole defender both went for the ball, which went off the Florida State player and into the net. Krivacek was credited with the goal.

“I was right there and I had good enough position that whichever of us touched it, it was probably going in the net,” Krivacek said. “But she was the one who headed it, not me.”

The Seminoles (18-4-4) had controlled possession for most of the half but were unable to generate many chances. Florida State had more corner kicks than Notre Dame in the first half, 5 to 3, but was out-shot 9-2.

Waldrum said he was concerned at halftime because the Irish had not been as dominant in the first half as the scoreboard indicated.

“Being up two is probably the most dangerous lead you can have,” Waldrum said. “Sometimes you would rather maybe be up by just one, because you don’t want to sit on a two goal lead, but you don’t want to give up a quick goal either.”

The Seminoles continued to pressure after the break and marked a goal early in the second half. Senior India Trotter blew past Irish freshman defender Haley Ford and beat keeper Lauren Karas.

Trotter had started the game at left back, but Seminoles coach Mark Krikorian moved her up front after Florida State fell behind 2-0. It was Trotter’s eighth goal of the year, second on the Seminole team.

“We thought we had some matchups today with her attacking that would work for us, and I guess they did,” Krikorian said.

Soon after the goal, Trotter moved back to defense, a move that “relieved” Waldrum.

“India Trotter is a great athlete, and she was really creating some havoc against us,” he said.

Florida State had a chance to tie the game with 23 minutes left. A Seminoles free kick flew into the box and was headed toward the net. Karas missed it, but it hit the cross bar and bounced to the ground, where the Irish keeper knocked it out of bounds.

Florida State got two shots off on the ensuing corner kick, but both were deflected.

“We were under a lot of pressure,” Notre Dame defender Christie Shaner said. “We had to get organized because players were running free.”

Late in the game, Krikorian removed Mims and put a goalie jersey on junior center back Libby Gianeskis in order to get a quicker, more offensive lineup into the game.

“We’ve been working on that for a few months,” Krikorian said. “If we’re in a desperate situation where we need a goal, that’s usually what we go to. There’s no difference to me between losing two to one and three to one.”

The strategy almost paid off, with the Seminoles getting two scoring chances with less than 15 minutes to play.

The first, with 13 minutes left, came on a through-ball to forward Kelly Rowland. Rowland was one-on-one with Karas, but the Irish keeper smothered the ball before the Florida State senior could get a shot off.

Ten minutes later, the Seminoles had a two-on-one break down the right flank, but Notre Dame freshman defender Amanda Clark, the only Irish player left on that side, managed to clear the ball.

The Irish counter-attacked after the clear and junior forward Susan Pinnick found herself running free behind Gianeskis, who had moved up almost to midfield. Gianeskis recovered just in time to harass Pinnick’s shot, which rolled just wide of the open net.

Notes:

– D.C. United star Freddy Adu called the Florida State locker room before the game.

“He wanted to wish us luck and give us some advice,” Rowland said.

– North Carolina defeated UCLA 2-0 in the other semifinal.