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ND WOMEN’S SOCCER: Total domination

Bobby Griffin | Monday, September 5, 2005

Two more games, two more wins.

It was hard to find much wrong with Notre Dame’s play this weekend, as the Irish cruised through the Inn at Saint Mary’s Classic, defeating Florida and Maryland on their way to winning the tournament title.

“We’re going to have a great team this year,” Katie Thorlakson said. “We built on our team last year and were just stronger and stronger. We’re probably going to bring it to every team we play this year.”

Thorlakson was named tournament MVP after scoring three goals and adding three assists on the weekend.

Notre Dame 4, Florida 1

Thorlakson and the Irish shook off a slow start Friday night to beat the No. 13 Florida Gators in front of 2,086 fans at Alumni Field in the team’s home opener.

Thorlakson assisted on forward Amanda Cinalli’s deciding goal 17:40 into the first half, then went on to score two of her own.

The assist was a perfect corner kick from the right side, allowing Cinalli to head the ball into the net. Her two goals came in the middle of the second half, with the first a one-timer off a cross by Christie Shaner.

With that, she became just the seventh player in Irish history – and 28th in NCAA history – to reach 40 goals and 40 assists for her career.

Her second goal came on a penalty kick at 75:12, and marked the 33rd time in the Irish’s previous 49 goals that Thorlakson has either scored or assisted on the play. It extended Notre Dame’s lead 4-0 and took the game’s outcome out of question.

While Thorlakson was providing most of the offense on the night, she also had help.

After carrying most of the offensive weight last year, Thorlakson has enjoyed the on-field company of second-semester freshman star Kerri Hanks.

Hanks scored her eighth goal early in her third collegiate game, receiving and capitalizing on up-field leads from Cinalli and senior midfielder Annie Schefter at 11:46. She hit the far right corner from 10 yards out to put the Irish up 1-0.

For Hanks, that extended her Irish record for goals to start both a career and season.

It also marked a critical turning point in the game for the team, which had struggled to maintain possession of the ball in the opening minutes of the game.

“It took us about 15 minutes to get going,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said.

But from then on, the Irish had no problem controlling the ball.

Notre Dame dominated in shots and shots on goal, finishing with 15 and eight, respectively, compared to Florida’s seven and four.

The Gators cut the lead to 4-1 with 11 minutes remaining when forward Jasmine Johnson tapped a crossing pass from KeLeigh Hudson into the right side of the net.

But that would be all the Gators could muster.

It was the only blemish on the night for Irish goalkeeper Erika Bohn, who saved Florida’s other three shots on goal.

The win improved the Irish to 52-13-3 against ranked opponents under Waldrum.

Notre Dame 6, Maryland 0

Following Friday night’s strong victory, the Irish dominated the Terrapins from the first minute, cruising to a 6-0 victory on Sunday afternoon.

Hanks scored two more goals, becoming the fastest Irish player to 10 goals both for a season and a career, while Thorlakson scored once and assisted on two.

The Irish completely controlled time of possession, and the Terps rarely had a chance to fight back on offense – Maryland had only one shot to Notre Dame’s 31.

“With Maryland playing in an overtime game on Friday, we felt like the depth that we had would give us the opportunity to really run them a lot and wear them down,” Waldrum said. “It was real important, we talked about starting the game early with real high tempo so that they couldn’t set the pace and try to slow the game down.”

And that the Irish did, forcing fast play from the opening kickoff.

To exacerbate the situation for Maryland, Ashley Kennedy was given a red card at 10:19, which forced the Terps to play one-short for nearly 80 minutes. The Terps had a difficult time playing a man down, and Waldrum understood that some of his team’s ability to control the game was related to the ejection.

“In fairness to Maryland, a little bit of that domination had to do with that,” Waldrum said.

Notre Dame scored its first goal 14:20 into the first period, when Hanks picked up a Thorlakson rebound and put the ball in the top left portion of the net to give the Irish a 1-0 lead.

The Irish missed several opportunities in the next 15 minutes due in part to several tough saves by Maryland goalkeeper Nikki Resnick, but scored their second and third goals within five minutes of each other at 28:30 and 33:15.

“I thought the goalkeeper was great today,” Waldrum said. “She came out and made two or three really big-time saves early in the first half.”

The Irish’s second goal came when Carrie Dew scored her first goal of the season when she took a pass from Thorlakson and beat Resnick close to the net.

Hanks added her second goal of the game, pushing the lead to three, when she headed a pass from Candace Chapman into the upper right corner of the net.

The Irish took the 3-0 lead into the half, but more importantly, outshot Maryland by an 18-to-0 margin.

Notre Dame’s dominance continued shortly into the second period, when Thorlakson netted her fifth goal of the season, an unassisted shot from 20 yards out.

Susan Pinnick and Beth Koloup also scored at 76:44 and 88:56 to put a game that saw the Irish completely outplay their opponent officially out of reach.

Following the game, Waldrum spoke about the importance of the team’s ability to rest some of its players in the second period.

“It gave us a chance to see some young players in the last 25 or 30 minutes, and still got a couple of goals out of them,” Waldrum said.

The Irish will take their perfect early season record into next weekend, when they travel to California to take on Santa Clara on Friday and Gonzaga on Sunday.