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ND Women’s Soccer: No Easy Way Down

Bill Brink | Monday, December 10, 2007

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Notre Dame fought hard to reach the national championship game on Friday, but did not have quite enough to gain the upper hand on Florida State.

Seminoles midfielder Amanda DaCosta’s goal in the 72nd minute gave her team a 3-2 victory over Notre Dame in the College Cup semifinals.

The loss ended the season for the Irish.

“I’m certainly disappointed for our team,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “I thought we had every opportunity to win today.”

The Seminoles lead 1-0 and 2-1, but the Irish evened the score twice before DaCosta put Florida State ahead near the end of the second half.

Forward Sanna Talonen started the play on the right side of the field outside the box and passed through three Notre Dame defenders to DaCosta, who blew past Irish midfielder Amanda Clark and touched the ball under keeper Lauren Karas for the game-winner.

“I don’t know how [Talonen] got through that,” DaCosta said. “I just made a run, I guess it got through.”

Seminoles coach Mark Krikorian said he felt his team could find openings in Notre Dame’s defense.

“I think that’s one of our strengths, the combination of play and finding seams,” Krikorian said. “I think that each of our goals were somewhat similar, with the quick combination and the through-ball for the forward to run to.”

Waldrum was surprised the Irish allowed the goal and that the limited time remaining, rather than his team’s play, limited their chance to tie the game.

“I didn’t think we’d give the third goal up,” Waldrum said. “Now the clock’s your enemy. I wouldn’t say we fell apart, I would say we ran out of time.”

Florida State forward Mimi Yamaguchi scored off the opening kick-off 15 seconds into the game. The Seminoles took the kick and made a quick pass to DaCosta, who found Yamaguchi with a through-ball behind the defense. Karas charged, but Yamaguchi slipped the ball into the right side of the goal.

“Yamaguchi, she’s just so good with the ball,” Waldrum said. “If you don’t keep her closed down all the time, she can really make some things happen.”

The Irish looked punch-drunk after the quick goal, but eventually found their form. Forward Kerri Hanks said the team could recover because the players knew their responsibilities.

“We’re not a team that’s going to huddle it up and talk about what we need to do and what we don’t need to do” Hanks said. “As individual players, we already know what we need to do.”

The Irish evened the score in the 15th minute when Hanks’ corner kick from the right found defender Carrie Dew by the left post. Dew deflected the kick off a Seminole defender and into the near corner.

In the 33rd minute, Talonen came free and ran onto a pass from Yamaguchi in the box. She tipped the ball underneath Karas and just inside the right post to make the score 2-1.

“[Talonen] is very good with her runs off the ball,” Waldrum said. “She’s got good size, she knows how to time her runs.”

Florida State kept up with Notre Dame in the first half, something few teams have done against the Irish this season. As a result of trying to slow Florida State, Notre Dame committed 12 fouls in the first half to Florida State’s six.

Waldrum said the game had its ups and downs, but he felt his team handled itself well.

“There was some ebb and flow to it,” he said. “Outside of the goal 15 seconds in, once we got that past us, I thought we had a good 20 to 30 minutes, maybe, of us really controlling the game. I thought that the last 15 of the first half, we made a few changes and started to get in rhythm.”

The Irish found their game early in the second half, when they applied pressure to the Seminoles with shots and set pieces, a flurry of which came in a five-minute period and culminated in Notre Dame’s second goal.

A Florida State defender knocked midfielder Amanda Cinalli’s centering pass out of bounds in the 51st minute, giving the Irish a corner kick. Hanks’ corner kick fell short, but she was fouled while pursuing the rebound. Hanks appeared to be fouled in the 18-yard box, which would have given the Irish a penalty kick, but the officiating crew ruled that the foul occurred just outside the box.

“You watch it on the replay if you want,” Hanks said when asked if the foul occurred in the box. “Says it right there.”

Waldrum was displeased with the ruling as well but said he’s not supposed to question the officiating. If he were to do so, he said with a wink, “Somebody get ready to pay the fine.”

Hanks’ free kick rebounded to Clark, whose shot deflected off a defender and out of bounds to give the Irish another corner kick. This one rebounded out and gave forward Michele Weissenhofer a chance to flip-throw the ball into the box. The throw bounced to Hanks, whose shot was again deflected out. Her ensuing corner kick found Dew in the center, but Dew’s header flew just above the crossbar.

One minute later, a Florida State foul gave Hanks a free kick from the right side. Her kick found Weissenhofer near the right side of the goal, but Weissenhofer’s header went inches wide of the post.

Defender Elise Weber tied the game in the 56th minute. Weber controlled the ball on the left side and started to the outside before cutting back in. She found an opening and fired a strong shot that ricocheted in off the left post a few feet under the crossbar.

“We thought they would get that second goal for a while because they were pressing and pressing,” Krikorian said. “Sooner or later they were going to capitalize, and they did.”

Weber said the goal was helpful, but that the team failed to finish the job.

“I think it gave us a lot of momentum but we just couldn’t put the third goal away,” Weber said.

The Irish could not take the lead before DaCosta’s goal and failed to convert opportunities before time expired.

“It kind of epitomizes how this team has been all year,” Waldrum said. “I think this game just showed their resiliency again. A lot of teams would fall apart completely after giving up the first goal 15 seconds into the semifinal.”

Hanks said despite the outcome, she felt proud of her teammates.

“We worked hard, we fought hard,” she said. “Credit our teammates for coming back.”