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ND Women’s Soccer: Irish continue winning ways

Tim Dougherty | Monday, September 11, 2006

Notre Dame relied on late scores to shut out TCU 2-0 and SMU 3-0 this weekend, scoring all its goals in the second half as the Irish defended their No. 1 ranking on the road.

Playing underneath new lights Friday night in the second-biggest crowd at Garvey-Rosenthal Stadium in Horned Frog history, the No. 1 ranked Irish expected a hostile environment. Though the TCU (3-2) fans were more welcoming than expected, its stingy players made the Irish earn a two-goal victory despite controlling the ball most of the game.

“It was a little frustrating Friday night,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “We were better than a two-goal margin but in fairness TCU was very well-organized and defensively settled in and played the game close. They really bunkered in and made it difficult to play through the ten players they packed in.”

Despite outshooting the Frogs 19-4, two second-half headers from senior midfielder Jill Krivacek and sophomore forward Brittany Bock were the only goals Notre Dame could finish. They also proved enough to escape with a win in enemy territory.

“I was disappointed in not figuring out how to break them out [from being] bunkered in so much,” Waldrum said. “[But] at this point in the season we need to keep winning and that [perseverance] shows character.”

Freshman forward Michele Weissenhofer assisted both Irish goals to rack her national-best total to eight. The first cross to Krivacek followed the turnover Weissenhofer created in TCU territory. Her cross to Bock came on a set play she struck from the wing that found Bock on the back post.

Bock’s goal was surprising in that earlier in the week Waldrum said he hadn’t planned on playing Bock or Dew after they returned to Notre Dame from the U-20 World Championships in Russia the last several weeks.

“I hadn’t really planned going into the weekend with preconceived notions of playing them,” Waldrum said. “Friday night I felt like the players we had just weren’t sharp enough attacking the side of the field. Brittany is the type of player that can help you get a goal. We may have to play her because she can get a goal for us and sure enough she scored a goal.”

Waldrum also played Dew, as well as six other subs to beat the southern summer heat. After Dew and Bock have another week to settle in, Waldrum won’t know until Thursday what his starting lineup for Friday night’s match at DePaul will look like.

Amid the hoopla surrounding the game, Irish captain defender Kim Lorenzen was pleasantly surprised by the reception her team received.

“There were a lot of people but the crowd wasn’t that loud. It was fun playing under the lights but I expected it to be a little bit more [hostile]. We had a lot of support from the fans in Texas, so that was nice.”

After a day off, Notre Dame faced a Mustang squad (3-2-1) led by veteran head man – and Waldrum’s coaching mentor – John Cossaboon, who was looking for his 50th victory at SMU with an upset of the top-ranked Irish.

For the first 45 minutes, that looked possible. But after another slow start on the road, the Irish attack picked up the slack in the second half to rally for three goals, including two by forward Kerri Hanks. Hanks beat Mustang keeper Ashley Gunter three minutes into the half to post the first points on the scoreboard. Hanks added her team leading fifth goal of the season on a penalty kick in the 70th minute after junior forward Amanda Cinalli was taken down in the box. Forward Molly Iarocci also added her first score of the year three minutes before the final whistle.

“We were sluggish in the first half and didn’t have that much energy,” Waldrum said. “But we played well in the second half and looked like a top-ranked team.”

While goalkeeper Lauren Karas only had to make three saves in her two shutouts this weekend, Waldrum and Co. are not satisfied with their overall defensive play.

“We’ve been shaky though in all our games,” he said. “It’s not just giving up goals, at bad times we have made some unforced errors and turned it over in bad parts of the field. That continues to give us difficulty on those turnovers.”

Though the Irish have only surrendered two goals in six games, Lorenzen agrees with her coach’s assessment.

“I don’t think the numbers really show [the problems],” Lorenzen said. “It’s good that we kept shutouts but I think our defense is something we’re continuing to work on and get better. Obviously we expect a little bit better play from us in the future.”

Waldrum thinks the unit will improve as it continues to play together.

“I think we’re a good defense, but not a great defense,” he said. “We need to get better in that area. The players we have can get it done, but we have to get some consistency because we’re not used to each other enough.”

The Irish began Big East play Friday before closing their non-conference schedule with a trip to Ann Arbor Sunday to face Michigan.