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Better late than never

Matt Mooney and Dan Tapetillo | Monday, November 15, 2004

Notre Dame found a way to get the same result out of two very opposite games.The fourth seeded Irish (21-1-1) advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the College Cup NCAA Tournament after two different victories in the first and second round. Both games were held at Alumni Field. The Irish trounced Eastern Illinois (13-6-2) by a 4-0 score on Friday night and then narrowly squeaked by Wisconsin (16-6-1) 1-0 on Sunday afternoon. Midfielder Jill Krivacek provided the heroics on Sunday when she scored on a header off of a corner kick with 53 seconds remaining in the game. After losing to Connecticut during the finals of the Big East tournament last weekend, the Irish were determined to get out to a quick start in the first round of the NCAA tournament.”They were angry losing to [Connecticut], and they were anxious all week to get out and get a game,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “They didn’t feel sorry for themselves during the week. They really just wanted to get out and get started.”To begin the match against Eastern Illinois, it did not take long for Notre Dame to find the net. Notre Dame drew first blood seven minutes into the game. The goal came from freshman forward Amanda Cinalli off of a corner kick by midfielder Katie Thorlakson. After an assist on the first goal, Thorlakson quickly found the net eight minutes later for the 2-0 lead.However, despite the impressive first half, the Irish found difficulties in finding shots at the goal during the second half of play. “We were a little lackadaisical to get the rhythm in the second half,” Waldrum said. Notre Dame continued to struggle until late in the half when defender Kim Lorenzen managed to knock in a goal, followed 48 seconds later by another goal from senior Candace Chapman. Chapman took the ball from the midfield to the left side of the field before firing a shot past an Eastern Illinois defender.”The angle she scored from was a tough angle,” Waldrum said. “It was an incredible goal.”The Irish found the going against the Badgers to be more difficult. Though Notre Dame registered 18 shots on goal, the Wisconsin defense played a physical style that disrupted the Irish ball control. Three yellow cards were handed out during the game, two of which went to the Badgers.”That’s Big Ten soccer,” Waldrum said. “It’s a very difficult style to play against. They take you out of your rhythm.”The going was particularly difficult for Thorlakson, who often faced multiple defenders while trying to maneuver on offense.”They were on my back the whole game,” she said. “Usually, [opposing defenders] start out with that focus and then they lose it during the game, they can’t find me as much. But [Wisconsin] seemed to find me a lot. I just have to stay persistent and try and do what I’m going to do.”About the only time Thorlakson had any room was during corner kicks. However, through 89 minutes of play, the Irish had been unsuccessful on their three previous attempts. On Notre Dame’s fourth and final corner kick, Thorlakson lined the ball into the goal box where the 5-foot-11-inch tall Krivacek leapt and deflected the ball into the right side of the net. Her first goal of the season proved to be a timely one even though the play was not drawn up for her.”Mainly I’m there for a distraction but this time she played a ball which I was able to get to,” she said. “I had their goalie basically on my back and no one fronted me so I was able to get a good flick.”With the win, Notre Dame now puts to rest many of the fears about a repetition of an early postseason exit. A loss in the Big East championship this year recalled memories of last season’s Big East semifinal loss to Boston College and subsequent second-round 1-0 loss to Michigan in the NCAA tournament at Alumni Field. The Wolverines scored on their only shot on goal in that game and, though his defense only allowed one shot on goal on Sunday, Waldrum worried that the same result might happen again.”I was kind of seeing shades of Michigan again,” he said. “If we’d have ever got one [goal], I felt like we could’ve broken it open with four or five. As a staff, we felt the heat a little bit of getting past [the second] round.”The Irish have a week to practice before they play at Alumni Field Saturday against Connecticut.