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Women’s Soccer: Irish stay unbeaten against two Big East foes

Chris Khorey and Tim Dougherty | Monday, October 2, 2006

Notre Dame’s shutout streak ended Friday night, but its winning streak didn’t.

ND Sophomore forward Kerri Hanks broke a 1-1 tie with a header with 16:47 left in the game for the winning goal. Senior Amanda Cinalli added an insurance score with four minutes left to give Notre Dame (11-0, 4-0 Big East) a 3-1 margin over previously unbeaten No. 6 West Virginia (9-1-2, 3-1-1 Big East) on a blustery night at Alumni Field.

“It all started when [senior defender Kim Lorenzen] won a ball at midfield,” Hanks said of the goal. “Then [senior midfielder Jen Buczkowski] made a nice pass and I was just in the right place at the right time.”

Hanks’ goal was her team-leading seventh of the season.

The Mountaineers controlled most of the first half and got on the board before the Irish. Sophomore midfielder Amanda Cicchini rocketed a shot past Irish keeper Lauren Karas in the 17th minute, ending Notre Dame’s five-game shutout streak.

“We made a mistake and left [Cicchini] unmarked,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said of the goal.

The Mountaineers had several other first half chances but couldn’t convert.

“The defense saved our butts in the first half,” freshman forward Michele Weissenhofer said.

Trailing 1-0 at halftime, Waldrum knew he had to make some changes.

“We didn’t have patience,” Waldrum said. “We weren’t holding it long enough for the forwards to get free. In the second half, we tried to get to ball to [sophomore forward] Brittany [Bock] and let her turn and distribute.”

Waldrum said the offensive adjustment was a play the Irish had practiced during the week.

“[Bock] did a great job in that spot for us tonight,” he said.

Four minutes into the second half, the Irish used Bock’s distribution to even the score. Weissnehofer took a pass from Bock on the right side of the West Virginia penalty area and put in the seventh goal of her young career. The Irish also hit the back of the net in the 17th minute of the second half, but the goal was disallowed after a foul call on Notre Dame.

The game featured five yellow cards and several other hard fouls. Waldrum said the quality of the two teams and the importance of the game caused the physical play.

“There was a lot at stake and two good teams going at it out there,” he said.

The second largest women’s soccer crowd in Notre Dame history – 3,046 people – watched the contest despite the rain and cold. A large student section, comprised mainly of residents of Stanford and O’Neill Halls, stood behind the Mountaineer net the whole game and heckled Bannerman.

“I can’t thank them enough,” Waldrum said of the fans. “That was huge. You could tell they had [the keeper] rattled. It lifted the whole atmosphere of the stadium.”

Notre Dame 5, Pittsburgh 0

Notre Dame started another scoreless streak Sunday, beating Pittsburgh 5-0 – only allowing one shot in the process.

With a 2-0 lead early in the second half, Hanks set up two goals for Weissenhofer less than three minutes apart to put the game out of reach.

The sophomore then added the final Irish goal in the 73rd minute, taking a Buczkowski pass to the left of the net and slipping a shot between Panther’s goalkeeper Alison Finch and the post.

“I thought Kerri this weekend looked a lot more in her rhythm, the way she played for us last season as a freshman,” Waldrum said. “I think today it’s nice to get the goals and stuff, but I thought Kerri did a great job just being very unselfish. Some of the little seams she found, she was just finding those little spaces to get people in.”

After totaling 34 goals and 16 assists last year, the forward entered the game with seven scores this season and just one assist. According to Hanks, that relative lack of productivity had started to eat at her. Now that she helped Notre Dame keep its record unblemished, that tension has eased.

“I was getting a little down on myself because as a goal scorer I’m supposed to score goals,” she said. “But I realized as the season goes on, I don’t care if I score anymore as long as we’re still winning. If we’re undefeated that’s all you can ask for. So if someone else [scores] that’s perfectly fine as long as we’re still winning.”

In the 31st minute, Pittsburgh midfielder Corina Sebesta fired a direct kick into the arms of Karas. The shot ended an Irish streak of 106 minutes without allowing an opposing shot on goal dating back to Friday’s game.

The Irish were able to control the Panthers, even though the starting lineup was missing regulars like Jill Krivacek, Cinalli and Weissenhofer to keep Irish legs fresh, before massive substitutions midway through the half.

With their starting lineup in the game, Notre Dame capitalized on an own goal when Buczkowski crossed a ball near Bock that Panther defender Katie Surma knocked into the net. In the 54th minute, senior defender Christie Shaner’s cross found Bock’s head before passing the bottom corner of the goal to take a 2-0 lead.

Pittsburgh coach, and former Irish assistant, Sue-Moy Chin was disappointed in the outcome, but admitted the challenge the Panthers faced.

“We did a good job of playing but it was sporadic,” she said. “The Irish are good. When they put you under pressure, it’s hard to get out of it.”

The Irish return to action next weekend against Seton Hall and Rutgers at Alumni Field.