A league of her own
Fran Tolan | Tuesday, September 2, 2008
She won the Hermann Trophy as the best player in the NCAA as a sophomore and scored 13 goals as a junior despite being frequently double-teamed. Some people might think Irish senior forward Kerri Hanks could not get much better.
They would be wrong.
In Friday’s 4-0 Irish win over Loyola Marymount, Hanks notched the sixth hat trick of her prolific career, tying Jenny Heft’s Notre Dame record.
“It means a lot, being a part of this school means so much and just for me being able to break records is awesome,” Hanks said.
Hanks was awarded the Offensive Most Valuable Player Award of the Inn at Saint Mary’s Classic this weekend. For her powerhouse performance, Hanks was also named the Top Drawer Soccer National Player of the Week Monday.
And Hanks is not likely to stop accumulating milestones anytime soon. She stands within striking distance of 70 career goals and 70 assists, a plateau reached by only two players in NCAA history. The elite club includes only two members – Notre Dame alumna Jen Streifer and women’s soccer icon Mia Hamm of North Carolina.
“[Hanks] is gonna continue to set more and more records. She owns a big majority of them now for scoring for this program over its 20 year history,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “And its kind of fitting, you know, that we are celebrating, this year, 20 years of the women’s soccer program and for her to have a chance of breaking the 70 goal-70 assist mark … it’d be in very good company if she could do that.”
Waldrum praised Hanks not only for her talent but also for the intangible qualities she brings to the field.
“She’s a leader, she understands the game, she sees it at a higher level than a lot of our players,” Waldrum said. “She is just a really smart student of the game. The thing that she’s got going for her is she’s not the most physically gifted and not the biggest, strongest player, but you won’t find a harder competitor.”
Hanks said that while it is an honor to be seen as a team leader, she knows if she did not play for a top-flight program like Notre Dame, she would not have had the opportunity to rack up so many points.
“Having younger players look up to me, it means a lot to me, it’s an honor,” Hanks said. “But I couldn’t have done it without my teammates setting up those plays and letting me be the one stepping up taking [penalty kicks].”
Two of Hanks’ goals on Friday came on penalty kicks after teammates were fouled inside the 18-yard box.
Waldrum said that despite Hanks’ 68 goals and 59 assists, she is far from a one-dimensional player.
“She does a lot of work for us defensively and a lot of people don’t realize,” the coach said. “They think all she does is score goals but when you watch her she’s chasing back all the way deep into our half. She’s a complete player.”
Hanks will not have a chance to join the 70-70 club until at least midway through this season, but for now Waldrum said he is just proud that she tied the school record for three-goal games.
“It couldn’t happen to a better player,” he said. “She’s been so much to our program over the [past] four years.”