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ND Women’s Soccer: Two down, four to go

Joe Meixell | Monday, November 13, 2006

Wisconsin-Milwaukee just wouldn’t go away.

No. 1 Notre Dame scored in the first five minutes but had to hang on to beat the Panthers 1-0 Sunday at Alumni Field in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

“I thought we got outplayed today,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “The intensity level of the kids was very poor. We made one good play – the goal.”

Forwards Michele Weissenhofer and Kerri Hanks made that one play for the Irish, a give-and-go with Hanks finding Weissenhofer streaking past a defender for an open shot past Milwaukee keeper Erin Kane.

After that, the Panthers turned up the heat. Milwaukee produced several chances in the first half and tested a depleted Irish back wall that was without injured sophomore Carrie Dew and senior Christie Shaner, who Waldrum said was out with an illness but would be back next week.

“They created a lot of dangerous opportunities by dumping the ball in the box,” Waldrum said.

Two freshmen – Haley Ford and Amanda Clark – replaced Dew and Shaner.

“As with any change, it’s a bit of an adjustment,” senior defender Kim Lorenzen said. “But they’ve played enough games that they’re no longer freshmen.”

Ford and Clark played well enough to keep the ball out of the net, but couldn’t keep the Panthers from getting off seven shots on goal – the second highest total the Irish have given up this year.

Notre Dame keeper Lauren Karas said she wasn’t fazed by the extra action.

“It was definitely packed in our half the first half of the game, but I didn’t have to make too many saves,” she said. “It was mostly communication and pickups.”

The Irish also struggled in the midfield, where Panthers coach Michael Moynihan put four players – one more than Notre Dame plays. While the Irish had faced the formation several times this season, Waldrum said the players did not adjust as well as they should have.

“They had a four-man midfield and we play with three,” he said. “Our wings players weren’t dropping back to help and our outside backs weren’t moving up, so [midfielders] [Amanda] Cinalli, Jill [Krivacek] and [Jen Buczkowski] were just chasing the game the entire time.”

Notre Dame had advanced to the second round with a 7-1 win over Oakland Friday – an easy win on paper, but in reality, a major toll on the players’ legs. A thunderstorm during the game reduced the field to a muddy slop and an almost-two hour lightning delay meant the contest didn’t end until about midnight.

Even by the time Sunday rolled around the Irish were still feeling the effects of the game against the Grizzlies, Lorenzen said.

“When the field got wet [on Friday], it was like running around in sand,” she said. “We’re looking forward to a fresh start next weekend.”

But the real problem with Friday’s late ending, Waldrum said, wasn’t added fatigue.

“We didn’t get to go to Chili’s like we usually do,” he said. “They were closed.”

Notre Dame will face Colorado Friday at Alumni Field at 7:30 p.m. in the Round of 16. The Buffaloes beat Denver 2-1 Sunday in Boulder, Colo.

“[Wisconsin-Milwaukee] is past us,” Waldrum said. “We got the win, ugly or not.”