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Offense stays on a roll

Matt Mooney | Monday, November 1, 2004

Notre Dame began its quest for a Big East Tournament Championship on a crisp Halloween afternoon, and Katie Thorlakson showed St. John’s just how frightening the Irish can be.A Notre Dame offensive explosion in each half buried the visiting Red Storm by a 7-0 score as the Irish (19-0-1) dominated St. Johns (6-8-1) in every facet of the game. Three unanswered Notre Dame goals in under a five-minute stretch midway through the first half put St. John’s in a deep hole. Only two teams have scored two goals against the Irish all season.Another even faster three-goal flurry by the Irish in the second half put the game out of reach. It took only 1 minute, 21 seconds for Notre Dame to double its lead and run out the clock. Kim Lorenzen added a goal in the 69th minute to provide the final margin of victory.Thorlakson did much of the damage, lighting up the scoreboard with four goals and two assists for a total of 10 points on the afternoon.”I had a couple weeks where I was a little frustrated because I wasn’t putting the numbers up,” she said. “But our team’s playing really good and I’ve been able to put the ball away.”Following a two-week scoring drought, Thorlakson has been on a tear over the last three games, totaling seven goals and five assists.”Good players that score goals all the time can get down on themselves if they’re not scoring,” coach Randy Waldrum said. “It’s great to see her get back on track. We’re gonna need that to win in the playoffs.”Notre Dame’s offense racked up a combined 27 shots on goal while the Irish defense stifled St. John’s attack, allowing only two shots on goal. The Notre Dame goalkeeping duo of Erika Bohn and Nikki Westfall easily handled the few chances they saw to preserve the team’s 10th shutout of the season. Sophomores Lizzie Reed and Christie Shaner also tallied a goal apiece for the Irish.”Today is the day we [finally] put most of our chances away,” senior Candace Chapman said.”I couldn’t have asked for better,” Waldrum said. “Seeing 27 shots and seven goals, I’m pretty pleased with that. I thought it was a really good effort today.”The blowout allowed Waldrum to rest many of his starters and get a number of his bench players some significant post-season minutes. Several of the starters left the game with over 30 minutes left to play.”It’s kept us healthier, kept us fresh,” Waldrum said. “You want to finally settle in as you get into the postseason with your team, but I think at the same time as much as we can keep playing [as many] players [as possible], it’s only going to help us at the end.”While Waldrum is looking out for his team’s well-being down the playoff road, he constantly stresses to his players the need to stay in the present. Last year, the Irish lost three of their last five games, including once in the Big East Championship semi-finals and then again in the second-round NCAA. “I hope that the group that played last year, as good as it was, gained some maturity and got a little better of understanding that you have to approach each game like it’s your last game. So far this year we’ve done a good job of that and we’ll know more as the season progresses.”Chapman sees this philosophy as just a continuation of the team’s approach from the regular season.”I think this year we have a lot of faith in ourselves,” she said. “We just have to look at it like we’ve been looking at the season and take one game at a time.”Now in the “win-or-go-home” stage of the post-season, Thorlakson feels that the added pressure requires much more focus.”You have to be more intense because up until now the games haven’t really mattered,” she said. “They’ve mattered for positioning but once you get to the NCAAs it’s single round knockout so [you have to play] every game like your last.”