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ND Women’s Soccer: Perfect season ends with loss in championship

Douglas Farmer | Thursday, May 14, 2009

Notre Dame entered the season with a lofty goal – to win a national championship.

Even though the Irish fell short of that goal, they still earned many trophies and accolades that will distinguish this season in the Notre Dame history books.

After a perfect regular season and successful run through the NCAA Tournament, top-ranked Notre Dame met up with No. 5 North Carolina in the College Cup Final. Despite a quick goal by senior forward Kerri Hanks just 16 seconds into the game, the Irish could not keep Tar Heel Casey Noguiera from finding the back of the net. Noguiera’s two goals were too much for the Irish to overcome in the 2-1 defeat.

While Notre Dame obviously wished for a different outcome, not even Hanks could feel bad for the team.

“That definitely wasn’t our game plan [scoring early]. You score a goal early and that’s good for our team, just try to keep doing it, but obviously we didn’t get it done,” Hanks said. “I thought we played a good game, but that’s how it goes, the game of soccer.”

Looking back on the season it is quite clear that the Irish put together a season to remember, with or without a final victory.

Notre Dame first won both the Inn at Saint Mary’s Classic and the Carolina Classic, including a 1-0 defeat of North Carolina, in routine form. The strong offense led by Hanks outscored their first six opponents 22-1.

This offense and Hanks proceeded to post a 25-0-0 record leading up to the final meeting with North Carolina. Within that 25-game run, the Irish won the Big East final over Connecticut in overtime, 1-0, and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals by topping Minnesota 1-0 in an extended period as well.

In order to reach North Carolina in the final, the team beat No. 6 Florida State 2-0, and No. 3 Stanford 1-0.

All season long it was Hanks’ play, records and leadership that paved the way for the Irish.

“She [has] what separates the good players from the great ones,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “Great players have that constant mentality to win at all costs.”

Hanks agrees that she puts winning above all else, and indeed, she has. The senior class has recorded a four-year record of 92-10-3.

“I would rather win than have the records,” she said. “I just want the younger players to look up to me.”

Nonetheless, record and accolades have seemed to gravitate towards Hanks. She was named to the NSCAA All-American first team along with fellow senior Carrie Dew. Senior Brittany Bock was named to the second team. Hanks, junior goaltender Kelsey Lysander, and freshman Courtney Barg were named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team, while Dew received Defensive Player of the Year honors.

In January, Hanks received the Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy, awarded to the nation’s top NCAA Division I player, her second M.A.C. Hermann Trophy in two years. Hanks is the first to acknowledge others deserve recognition for her success.

“It would be impossible without my teammates to finish off those assists and set up those free kicks for me to take,” she said. “Without my teammates and [Waldrum] I wouldn’t be able to get those records.”