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Irish girls continue to roll this weekend

Matt Mooney | Monday, October 4, 2004

Another weekend, two more wins.In what has been a recurring theme this season, No. 1 Notre Dame (12-0-0, 5-0-0 in the Big East) extended its perfect record with a 3-1 victory at West Virginia Friday night and then returned home to dominate Providence 3-0 Sunday afternoon. The Irish are now the nation’s only Division I team of 308 without a loss or a tie.Notre Dame’s three greatest strengths – defense, depth, and Katie Thorlakson’s offense – were on full display this weekend. The Irish defense continued its dominating play by allowing only one goal in the two games. Notre Dame has now held 10 of its 12 opponents to less than two goals scored, including six shutouts. On the season, the team has more goals scored (37) than its opponents have shots on goal (31).”This might be, arguably, one of the best back four that this program has ever had, and that would be saying a lot,” coach Randy Waldrum said. “This one has a great blend of athleticism. They’re all good in the air [and] they’re all hard as nails.”Meanwhile, Thorlakson, who began the week as the second-leading scorer in the nation, notched two more goals to bring her team-high total to 11. With a goal in each game this weekend, she extends her streak to five straight games with a goal scored.The Irish also got some offensive support from more unlikely candidates. Sophomores Christie Shaner and Kim Lorenzen tallied their first goals of the season against West Virginia while freshman Jannica Tjeder scored the first goal of her Irish career against Providence.Tjeder, who has been injured for much of the season, was relieved to get the first one under her belt. “It felt great, of course, [especially] to get the win,” she said. “It was difficult coming back [from the injury] in the beginning, but I’m starting to feel better.”To start the weekend, the Irish made the most of their long bus trip with a victory over No. 20 West Virginia (8-3-0, 3-2-0). Notre Dame jumped out to its quickest start of the season when Shaner headed a Thorlakson corner kick past Mountaineer goalkeeper Lana Bannerman just 2:38 into the game. West Virginia came back to tie the game in the second half when Mountaineer Rachael Minnich scored on a header off a free kick.But the Irish responded when Lorenzen took a pass from Lizzie Reed and knocked a long crossing shot past Bannerman for the go-ahead goal. Thorlakson sealed the win when she made a move past her defender and scored inside the right post to give Notre Dame a 3-1 lead.”You hate to give up the goal to make it 1-1 late in the game, but then we came back and responded really well,” Waldrum said. “I was pleased overall with pretty much every phase of the game.”Despite the long bus ride back to South Bend, the Irish had even less trouble Sunday afternoon when Providence (3-9-0, 0-5-0) visited Alumni Field. Notre Dame dominated Providence in all facets of the game, from shots on goal (38-2) to corner kicks (12-0). Providence did not record a shot on goal until 10 minutes into the second half. Thorlakson, Annie Schefter and Tjeder all scored goals for the Irish, though the margin could have been much greater had it not been for several diving saves by Providence goalkeeper Ashley Fedyshyn. “It’s just a matter of capitalizing on our good scoring chances,” Schefter said. “We just need to focus on creating better ones and making them count.”Waldrum was less concerned about the scoring than getting the chance to utilize his bench.”The thing we’ve been preaching about the whole year is trying to develop that depth so that when we get into the NCAA’s we’re much deeper,” he said. “[Today] we got a lot of players some rest and a lot of players some playing time that needed more minutes for us.”The Irish goalkeepers were also in and out of games throughout the weekend. Freshman Lauren Karas started against West Virginia, but Waldrum removed her for junior Erika Bohn shortly after Karas allowed the Mountaineer goal. Bohn subsequently started Sunday’s game, but was replaced by both Karas and sophomore Nikki Westfall. Waldrum played all three of his goalkeepers against Providence because he feels no one has emerged as the clear-cut starter.”One of them really needs to step up and say ‘It’s mine’,” he said. “We need that sharpness and that mental focus all the time [but] they’re all capable of being that goalkeeper for us.”