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ND Women’s Soccer: Own goal helps ND top Illinois

Bill Brink | Monday, November 19, 2007

When forward Kerri Hanks didn’t have partner Brittany Bock to help her score because of an injury, she decided to use the opponent’s defense instead.

Hanks’ centering pass led to an own-goal by Illinois that put the Irish up 2-0, the final margin in the second-round NCAA tournament win Sunday at Alumni Field.

The Irish, a four seed, advanced to the round of 16, where they will face No. 1 seed North Carolina in a rematch of last year’s national championship game.

Irish coach Randy Waldrum held Bock out of the game because of a sore hip flexor. He said she was scratched right before the game.

“She warmed up, but said she didn’t feel 100 percent,” Waldrum said.

The Irish kept the ball in the attacking third for much of the first half of the game, but for the most part, Illinois prevented them from setting up an offensive formation. This, however, didn’t prevent the Irish from getting scoring chances.

Minutes into the game, forward Kerri Hanks touched the ball to Amanda Cinalli, who replaced Bock at forward. Cinalli touched the ball over to forward Michele Weissenhofer, who dribbled her way into the six-yard box and fired a point-blank shot, but keeper Lindsey Carstens fell to her left and made the save.

Weissenhofer scored with 18:26 left in the first half when midfielder Amanda Clark played a through-ball to Cinalli down the right side.

“It was a really good ball through by AC, she just stepped on the field and tried to make an impact and she did,” Cinalli said. “She stepped in and won that ball.”

The Illini defense blocked Cinalli’s shot, but Weissenhofer followed the play, found the rebound in front of the net and put her shot past Carstens to give Notre Dame a 1-0 lead.

“I followed to the ball and just placed it,” Weissenhofer said. “Actually there was one just like it earlier in the half that I missed, so it was nice that that one went in.”

In the final 10 minutes of the half, the offense started to set up offensive plays, control the ball in the offensive third and create scoring chances.

With three minutes remaining before the break, Illinois midfielder Jackie Santacaterina positioned herself in front of the net and headed the ball toward the right side of the goal, but Irish keeper Lauren Karas dove to her right to make the save.

With 1:28 to go in the half, Hanks attempted to cross the ball from the right side into the center of the box. The cross deflected off Illinois defender Emily Zurrer and past an unsuspecting Carstens for an own-goal and a 2-0 Irish lead heading into the half.

Illinois put more pressure on the Irish in the second half and kept the ball in its attacking third for most of the period. The Illini pressure overwhelmed the Irish defense, but Notre Dame did not allow a goal.

“I was a little disappointed in our composure in the 20 minutes,” Waldrum said. “I don’t think we handled it very well.”

Weissenhofer said that the extra man Illinois brought into the attacking third caused the Irish problems.

“We had to figure that out and put more people on the back,” she said. “We just wanted to get the ball cleared out as fast as possible. There’s things we need to work on definitely for next weekend, but we got it done.”

The defense looked flustered at times and struggled to keep up with Illinois’ attack. But Waldrum said the difficulty they had may aid them against North Carolina.

“Maybe you need that kind of a game, where things aren’t going the whole time your way,” Waldrum said. “I think the positive out of it is as much havoc as they created, I don’t think Lauren had much to do. Even as busy as it was around her and in front of her, she didn’t really have to come up with any big saves.”

In the absence of Bock, Waldrum moved Cinalli to the forward spot and started Rebecca Mendoza at midfield. The loss of Bock hurt, Waldrum said, but it showed his team’s true ability.

“You’ve got a player with fourteen goals sitting on the bench, and that takes a lot away from your team,” Waldrum said. “You’ve got to be pleased that you’re able to win at this level without one of your key players.”

Waldrum said Mendoza handles the ball well and provides stability in the midfield.

“People look at her size and things and don’t expect much from her but she really is a calming effect on our team,” Waldrum said of the 5-foot-2 Mendoza.

Bock and Hanks ensured that the Irish reached the second round of the tournament with their performances in Notre Dame’s 3-0 win over Loyola-Chicago on Friday. Bock scored two goals and Hanks assisted all three.

With 7:06 remaining in the first half, midfielder Amanda Clark crossed the ball to Hanks on the far side. Hanks headed it across the box to Bock, who controlled it and put it past the keeper for a 1-0 lead.

Hanks had her 11th corner kick assist with 32:04 left in the second half. Her kick hung in the center of the box for center back Carrie Dew, who charged up the middle of the field and headed the ball into the center of the net to score her sixth career goal and put the Irish up 2-0.

Less than two minutes later, Hanks passed to Bock on the right side of the field. Bock crossed the ball back to the left, past the charging keeper into the left side of the net.

Notre Dame plays North Carolina at noon on Nov. 24 in Chapel Hill, N.C.