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ND starts with two shutouts

Fran Tolan | Monday, September 3, 2007

Despite outshooting Michigan 28-6 and keeping the ball on the visitors’ side of the field for nearly the entire second half of regulation, the Irish played the Wolverines to a scoreless draw at Alumni Field Friday night.

In front of a crowd of 3,264, Michigan junior goalkeeper Madison Gates racked up a career-high 10 saves while keeping the host Irish from extending a home winning streak that had reached 32 games. The streak is tied for the third longest in NCAA history. “It feels like a loss,” Irish senior captain Amanda Cinalli said.

Notre Dame pressured the Wolverines enough to earn 10 corner kicks and several free kicks just outside the penalty box, but Gates was able to turn away every set piece opportunity.

The Irish also sent a number of shots just over or wide of the goal.

“We have to focus more on finishing and focus on being composed around the [penalty] box,” Cinalli said.

Irish coach Randy Waldrum agreed, but added that the team would rebound after the tie.

“We created way too many chances not to be effective,” Waldrum said. “It’s not going to kill us but it’s not how we wanted to do.”

The best Irish chance came early in the second half when freshman midfielder Lauren Fowlkes headed the ball off the crossbar. After Fowlkes’ chance, which was set up by junior forward Kerri Hanks’ free kick, the Irish continued to pressure the Wolverines until they appeared to run out of gas in overtime.

Sophomore Michelle Weissenhofer set up the attack with several shots that narrowly missed, as well as long throw-ins that gave the Irish a number of other golden opportunities.

But the Irish began to tire as regulation ended and the game headed into overtime. Waldrum attributed his team’s fatigue to the fact that he was forced to use his key players for more time than he would have preferred.

“We changed a lot [of players with seventeen minutes left] in the first half,” Waldrum said. “The players we wanted out there had to play a lot more minutes than we would have wanted.”

Two Irish goalkeepers, sophomore Kelsey Lysander and Nikki Weiss, combined for the shutout, although each had to make just one save behind a team that possessed the ball for most of the contest.

Notre Dame 2, Florida 0

Junior defender Elise Weber notched a goal and an assist as the visiting Irish bounced back to take down No. 7 Florida 2-0 Sunday in Gainesville.

Notre Dame weathered a four-and-a-half four rain delay before facing off with the Gators. The wait did not affect the Irish, who were hungry to get back on the field following Friday’s tie with the Wolverines.

The game was Notre Dame’s 21st shutout in its last 29 games. The team was able to keep Florida off of the scoreboard despite being outshot 11-4 by the Gators.

Junior midfielder Brittany Bock opened the scoring less than seven minutes into the contest when she headed a cross from Weber into the left side of the net.

Weber then tallied a goal of her own in the 65th minute to give Notre Dame some breathing room. After receiving a pass from junior forward Kerri Hanks outside the penalty box, she beat one defender, then skipped a shot past Gators goalkeeper Katie Fraine.

But the extra score was more of a cushion than the Irish and senior goalie Lauren Karas would need. While only saving one shot on goal, Karas helped Notre Dame overcome a 6-2 corner-kick deficit and kept Florida from finding the back of the net.

The win marked Notre Dame’s 27th straight regular season match without a loss, a streak that dates back to the 2005 season.

The team could not be reached for comment following the game.