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Irish split at home this weekend

Fran Tolan | Monday, September 17, 2007

Notre Dame had to play from behind in each of its games this weekend, and split a pair of games in the Inn at Saint Mary’s Classic.

Notre Dame 4, Princeton 2

Irish senior captain Amanda Cinalli did not start but, upon entering the game, wasted little time in lifting her team to a victory over Princeton. The midfielder, who did not practice all week because of a hip injury, scored twice and notched an assist in the win.

“One thing with Cinalli is you know you’re always going to get a great effort,” Irish coach Randy Waldrum said. “That’s what you want out of your team.”

Princeton drew first blood in the match, scoring in the 22nd minute, but the Irish responded immediately. Three minutes after Tigers freshman forward Alexandra Valerio scored off of a corner kick, Cinalli came into the game. It took her just 51 seconds to put the Irish on the scoreboard.

Cinalli ripped a shot from the top of the box into the right corner, just beyond the reach of Tigers goalkeeper Maren Dale.

The game remained tied until early in the second half when Notre Dame sophomore forward Michele Weissenhofer headed home a corner kick from junior forward Kerri Hanks.

With just over 30 minutes left in the match, Hanks added a goal of her own on a free kick. She knocked the ball into the left side of the net, just out of Dale’s reach.

Princeton, meanwhile, was unable to produce much offense in the second half but scored on a free kick from 30 yards out with 14:53 remaining in the game. Tigers junior midfielder Jen Om knocked a looping drive past Irish senior goalkeeper Lauren Karas, who stood motionless and did not appear to see the ball clearly.

But Cinalli eliminated all doubt about the result of the match when she hammered a Weisenhoffer throw-in after Princeton was unable to clear it.

The Irish needed 15 shots to muster the four goals, a stat with which Waldrum was unsatisfied.

“To be honest, the only thing I was happy about was that we won,” Waldrum said. “The offense played well except for finishing.”

Oklahoma State 2

Notre Dame 1

Despite outshooting the No. 16 Cowgirls 20-6, several sloppy defensive plays cost the Irish dearly in the team’s second overtime loss of the year.

The Irish dominated Oklahoma State early, keeping the ball in their attacking third of the field for nearly the entire first half. But in the 16th minute, Oklahoma State sophomore midfielder Siera Strawser stole the ball from Irish sophomore defender Amanda Clark and beat freshman goalkeeper Nikki Weiss to give the Cowgirls the lead.

“The back line was awful,” Waldrum said. “It was tough to take.”

The Irish offense responded with constant pressure of its own but headed into halftime still trailing.

The Irish began the second half as they had ended the first and finally broke through for a goal with just over 22 minutes to play. After sophomore midfielder Courtney Rosen was fouled while making a run, Hanks drilled the ensuing free kick into the top left corner of the net, almost the exact spot that Strawser’s first-half goal ended up.

And Notre Dame’s offensive pressure did not stop after the goal. The Irish forced Oklahoma State junior goalie Erin Stigler to make several diving saves as the clock ran down in regulation.

“We clearly dominated,” Waldrum said. “We should have scored five in the second half.”

But it was the Cowgirls who struck quickly in overtime, scoring 79 seconds into the action.

The Irish were unable to clear the ball out of their zone when Oklahoma State sophomore midfielder Kasey Langdon crossed the ball into the goalmouth. After Weiss knocked the ball down, Cowgirls senior midfielder Sasa Jackson hammered it home to give her team the victory and its first win of the tournament.

“In that situation, you just have to get the ball out,” Waldrum said. “The smart thing to do would have been to kick the ball out of bounds. When you do things like that, you’re going to lose games.”